OK, another trip, another hotel ! If my dooyoo opinion on Belfast, or anything else, has given you an inclination to visit this fine city, then this opinion (and those that I and others have given on the other Belfast hotels) may give you some idea where to stay (or where not to stay, as the case might be). As a Consultant, based in Edinburgh, but with most clients outside of this city, a significant proportion of my time is spent travelling and staying at hotels. On many occasions, I may only stay a single night ever in a particular city, so that I will only experience a single night in a particular hotel, and I would not consider it fair to either recommend (or to 'damn') a hotel on the basis of one stay. Furthermore, hotel management and staff and even the policy of a hotel group may change, so that what might have been a good (or bad) experience on the first stay, may not be the same even a month later. Thus I will not comment in detail on a hotel that I have found to be poor during a single stay, unless it is an establishment that makes ‘Farty Towels’ appear like the Grande Hotel. I have been serving a client in the centre of Belfast since early 1997 and I now visit there regularly, on a 4 to 8 week cycle, each visit taking from 3 to 5 days. Indeed, since first writing this opinion, I now have a second client in this fine city, so my continued trips are 'more guaranteed. The centre of Belfast is dominated by the City Hall (a photograph of which appears on the dooyoo category site) and, as soon as I leave the building in Donegall Square, where my main client is based, I have this very familiar view right in front of me. Fortunately the centre of Belfast is now well-served by hotels and in my time I have stayed at three of them, each within 5 minutes walk of where I work. The second client is about 1-2 miles away, so I may have to ‘decamp’ in future. The Europa Hotel in Great Victoria Street, Jury's Inn in Fisherwick Place, and The Travelodge in Brunswick Street are the three hotels that i have experienced so far, and opinions are posted on the other two. Other viable alternatives are only a little further away (but I have not yet tried them). They include the newly opened Hilton Hotel on the ‘Waterfront’ (where Bill Clinton stayed recently) and the newly opened THF Posthouse Premier Hotel (that gollygumdrops has featured). There is also the McCausland Hotel that I have heard good reports of (admittedly from a photocopier salesman that I met in a bar) and may try in the future. However, none of these hotels are quite as close to my centre of work as the above three (although the Post House is close enough to become the next ‘trial’ if the others are full). The Travelodge. Brunswick Street (02890 333555) Accommodation This was formerly known as the "Garden Court Plaza Hotel", run by the Hilton Group and had a poor reputation with my client for some reason. It was ‘refurbished’ as a Travelodge last year. The current charge of £59.50 a night is on a room only basis and the rooms that I have stayed in have each had a double bed. However, I understand that 'family' rooms are also available here as they have been in other Travelodges. These will (officially) accommodate up to 4 people, but we squashed the whole family of 5 into the Cardiff Travelodge a couple of years ago. Eating Breakfast (served on the first floor) costs £6.95 and is a buffet (small packets of cereal/canned grapefruit/scones/ croissants) except for the cooked items which are 'waitress delivered', fresh, hot and delicious. However, a cheaper alternative is at 'The Spires' on Howard Street, on the way to the City Hall, which opens at 8 am. You can alternatively opt to pay £4.25 for a 'Continental' (3 croissants/butte r/jam/ Cornflakes/milk/orange juice) put outside your door. A complimentary copy of 'The Times' is also supplied (and collected at the front desk). Dinner is served in the same restaurant and there is a limited choice. The quality is good and so is the service (about £15 for 2 courses). Only Draught Guinness, unfortunately, so I usually prefer Shennanigans on Howard Street (where if they don’t have the pint bottles, they will sell you twa half pint bottles for the same price !). The bottled Guinness in Ireland really must be tasted, as urged in my Guinness opinion. Paying the Bill A really great advantage of Travelodge is that you pay 'upfront' (buying vouchers for your breakfast) so that checking out is soo easy (just dropping the key onto the desk). The amount of time I have wasted at Jury’s Inn, waiting for the complaints to be corrected on other people’s bills ! ...... If you check the newspaper (The Times, The Daily Telegraph, and the Daily Mail) regularly there is often a special offer for some Travelodges (but not all - usually the two Oxford venues are excluded, for example). The telephone number is 0870 900 1995, but you need a reference number from the newspaper advert, so keep your eyes peeled !! If you have not got one, try ‘MOS 1” or “MOS 2”. These are often correct. For Belfast, the reduced price is generally £35 per night (and sometimes £30), and I have booked up at this price as late as the day before my travel and obtained a booking. Thus, a useful saving of £24.95/£29.95 a night (and you can still cancel your booking up to 4 p.m. of the day booked). Comfort & Convenience As regards the Belfast Travelodge, the double glazed windows are not as soundproof as those of the Jury's Inn, so that not only dooyoo have to contend with the helicopter drone (see my opinion on "Belfast, Bilfawst ..." , but also the noise from a night club close by that seems to regularly open its doors up at 2 - 3 a.m. to eject drunks and to let out the stale air and over-amplified noize. You end up closer to the helicopter, but this is infinitely preferable to being closer to 'the drunks'!! Also try to ensure that your room is on the 4th floor or higher and if possible aim for the higher numbered rooms on each floor (e.g 410 – 414) - this again is further away from the drunks. There are only two (small) lifts (that are very busy in the mornings) but the alarm call system is automated through the telephone. (you dial in what time you want a wake-up call and it is done automatically). If you want to make telephone calls from your room, the you have to buy a £10 'Talkaround' pre-pay phone card (but this is usable from 'most' UK telephones). Thus, there is no internet access for laptops. Security This is an important aspect to consider being Belfast. The Travelodge has a 'locked outer door' policy (opened by the desk clerk) but this could be easier to overcome than having security guys on duty. Thus I would be more reluctant to stay there if there was 'concerted' terrorist activity (but if there were then I might be somewhat reluctant to visit my clients anyway). Conclusions Well, you pays your money and you takes your choice. The Travelodge is the place to consider if you can find the advert in the Daily paper, and you want to go at short notice and are a deep sleeper ! Certainly this offers ‘value for money’ for a city centre hotel.