“ Ormaeu Avenue, Belfast BT2 88F. Tel 0870.400.9005 „
As Belfast continues its’ public transformation into a safe, fun vibrant city, perfect for business, the hotel chains are falling over themselves to win the accolade of top dog for business. Not so long ago it was the Europa or nowt if you wanted a business class address whilst in town, but with a reasonably priced and comfortable Jury’s Inn, and the new Hilton, competition is hotting up. The PostHouse Premier is the latest to enter the fray. Pitched half way between the elegance of the Hilton/Europa and the comfort and affordability of Jury’s, it opened in October 2000. Situated just a two minute walk from the City Hall, on Ormeau Avenue and Dublin Road, it is a perfect spot to explore the city. It is also easy to find if you are driving in, or a fixed £7.00 taxi fare from Belfast City airport (although expect to pay significantly more from the international airport). Inside it is very much a corporate Fotre PostHouse outlet, and you could be anywhere, until you talk to the check in staff, who are so friendly and welcoming you know you’re a long way from London. Parking is available on street, and is free after 6pm and overnight, but you will have to get up and move the car by 8am, or at least feed the meter for the maximum of four hours. At just 20p per fifteen minutes, it’s almost 60% cheaper than Londons meters, and despite what you may think, my car felt a lot safer here than in most London spaces (no, I didn’t ask it how it felt, that’s my opinion on how safe I felt leaving it!). The ‘official’ hotel car park comes in at a hefty £1.75 per hour, but those trusty reception staff have struck a deal with the car park above the Burger King, 100 yards away on the Dublin Road. If you show your room key card you can park up for £5 per night. The competition may be putting pressure on the business hotels in town, but they are not yet too keen on discussing the D word (discount) too openly. It’s easy enough to knock £20 off the price of an advance midweek booking, but for real cuts, you will need to hang on for last minute deals. What the PostHouse is happy to do though is throw in an upgrade at the slightest hint that you may take your expense account bucks over to the waterfront. One frustration I had with the hotel was that the leisure club is not yet finished, although they are pushing memberships so if you are a Belfast resident it shouldn’t be too tough to secure yourself a free weekend trial membership on the off-chance that you’ll be happy to part with big membership and subscription fees. It should be open before the summer, but if I’m paying the best part of £100 a night I do like to have a swim. The rooms are still spanking new, and this makes for a nice stay. Executive rooms have a comfortable bed, banquette seating, a sofa bed, large desk, and a natty little ‘roomlet’ between the bedroom and bathroom, where you can store your luggage, and scare yourself with the rather cruelly well lit floor to ceiling three foot wide mirror. A good nights sleep is helped by the fact that my room had no curtains, but rather large wooden sliding shutters that kept the room dark. The bathroom was delightfully fresh and clean, with a bath, regular wimpy shower and an energising American style power shower. The toiletry haul is above average, with a neat little wash bag stuffed with Neutrogena goodies. They aren’t as cool as the Hiltons test tubes but, hey, I’m getting picky now. The TV comes with the regular 5 channels plus RTE, Sky News, and in executive rooms, free Sky Sport. Pay movies of recent video releases are available for £7.50 a shot, but as there is a multi screen cinema just around the corner on Dublin Road this is probably only of interest to dedicated porn fiends. The restaurant is pleasant enough, with a standard corporate menu, with no concessions to the locale, meaning no salmon or trout specials, and sadly, no champ. You can order a la carte, although some guests staying on a DBB rate get a cut down menu. Unless you are a real bloater don’t bother with this as it squeezes in three courses plus coffee for £15. You can ask for the £15 to be ‘taken into consideration’ as an allowance against the real menu, which usually means two good courses are available for the price of four rather icky ones. Lunch from the carvery is dinner served up in a sauce, but very tasty nonetheless. Service in the restaurant needs a little kick up the butt at times as it is a little slow and patchy with some staff running ragged whilst other stand around and complain. I tended to nab the waitperson of my choice and hang on to them, meaning I could be my annoying self and order my range of tweaks and menu changes. It is fairly empty in there, which is emphasised by the huge expanse of glass showing the outside world how few folks are eating. There are strange Damien Hurst-esque dotty pictures at one end, and the areas that are closed of at any time are covered by leather padded wood paneling, which is just odd. Continuing on the odd line, if you ask for wine by the glass rather than a full bottle, they bring you a little itty bitty airplane type screw top bottle of your choice. Whilst this does ensure freshness it doesn’t exude elegance. Breakfast is just plain huge, and at least has the decency to offer white pudding, soda bread and potato farls to turn the standard full English into an Ulster Fry. This can be taken in the restaurant, or on room service. Every guest gets a complimentary copy of The Times, so you can save yourself a few pence on a morning paper. The bar is a standard hotel one, perfect if you want to spend the evening being bored by salespeople whose spouses don’t understand them. A better option is Morrisons, ju st about 50yards from the front door of the hotel, where you can have a Guinness and read the paper in splendid squalor without being bugged. I’d certainly be happy to stay here again, just as soon as the leisure club is up and running. Note to DooYoo: Oi! The clientele choice says 'business men', not 'business people' you sexist little swines you - sort it out.