A former seed warehouse dating from the mid-19th century with an ornate Italianate sandstone facade, Malmaison Belfast is a prime boutique hotel close to many of the central tourism highlights of the capital of Northern Ireland.
Located in the heart of the city’s lively Cathedral Quarter with its multitude of cafes, bars and restaurants, this 62-room and suite hotel is also within walking distance of the Titanic district, the rejuvenated dockyard area where the ill-fated cruise ship was built and where a multi-million euro museum in its honor has been opened; the SSE Arena, a major sports and entertainment complex, and the Victoria shopping centre. This Belfast property is part of the Malmaison chain established in 1994 and owned by Frasers Property which operates sixteen hotels throughout the United Kingdom.
Chez Mal Brasserie, the hotel’s restaurant, is bright and airy and features booth seating and brushed steel tables. With assorted models of sailing boats on shelves, oars affixed to its walls and porthole windows on the entrance door, its distinctly nautical theme reflects the ethos of the area immediately around it known historically as Sailortown.
Breakfast is served here including what is known as the ‘full Irish’ comprising grilled sausages, sweet cured bacon, black pudding, baked tomato, mushrooms, potato croquettes and choice of eggs. Finish that and you certainly won’t need lunch. Maybe not even dinner. If not so hungry, there is also lighter vegetarian and continental options, as well as delicious eggs Benedict.
As evening approached, we enjoyed a quiet window-seat and the chic ambience of the hotel’s street-facing MalBar, its central fixture being an impressive counter stretching almost the entire length of the room, with a neon sign ‘Happiness Is…’ above it. Both the drinks and food menu are varied. Starters range from roasted tomato and red pepper soup to Thai noodle salad while mains featured grilled seabass with chorizo, chicken katsu curry, roast pork belly, as well as burgers and steak. For dessert, try the warm Valrhona chocolate and pistachio brownie – your waistline might regret it, but you certainly won’t. Featured on its all-day menu are chicken wings, sandwiches, smoked salmon and salads.
With Belfast becoming a popular weekend city break for celebratory groups, Malmaison prides itself on a broad breadth of cocktails to suit all tastes. Aside from the classics on its ‘Malchemy’ menu such as Old Fashioned, margaritas and daiquiries, innovative signatures include ‘Bad Boy Good Girl,’ a blend of Absolut Blue Vodka, rhubarb, lemon, strawberry, basil and Maison Champagne, as well as ‘Tea in the Rose Garden’ a mix of Hendricks gin, rose, blackberry and raspberry tea, lemon and tonic.
Then there’s what’s termed the ‘maltonicals’ – various gins with different accompaniments such as rosemary, elderflower and blueberries. The wine list is truly multinational in scope with grape varieties from Italy, France, New Zealand, the US, Argentina, Spain, Australia and South Africa prominent.
Malmaison hosts corporate events through two meeting rooms. Its elegantly-styled Mal 1 caters for up to 40 delegates or private dining seating for around 30. Chateau Mal is a smaller venue, hosting up to 12 people and comes complete with LCD TV, gas fire and natural daylight. Malmaison is pet friendly and even highlights photographs of guest pets in its ‘Pet Frame of Fame’ in the lobby.