Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Belfast hotel rooms scarce for Titanic centenary events

After months of meticulous planning, Belfast will mark the sinking of the Titanic with a weekend of centenary events.

But is there any room at the inn?

The Belfast Telegraph put this question to some of the city’s best known hotels — and the good news for the hospitality industry is that the Titanic dividend looks to be paying off with availability increasingly scarce.

We asked a number of hotels — based in the city centre or in the university area 15 minutes away — if they have availability for Saturday, April 14, and Sunday, April 15, when the sinking of the luxury cruise liner will be marked.

Two hotels in the university area of south Belfast are booked to capacity on the Saturday evening.

In the exclusive 62-room Merchant Hotel there were around five rooms available for that weekend, while in Jury’s Hotel, 30 of its 190 rooms were free.

The weekend of centenary events — exactly 100 years after the luxury cruise liner sank — is one of the hottest tickets on the Titanic festival calendar.

International and local artists will retell the story of the ship’s tragic demise on Saturday, April 14.

The 90-minute show, which will be broadcast live, will feature a documentary and an eclectic line-up of musicians, including the Ulster Orchestra.

On Sunday, April 15, Belfast City Council will unveil a special memorial garden close to the Titanic memorial sculpture on the grounds around the City Hall.

The garden will open following an inter-faith remembrance service, with performances from the Belfast Youth Orchestra and Queens Island Victoria male voice choir.

Four weeks in advance of centenary events, the city’s hotels are already reaching capacity.

In the landmark Europa hotel — with a total of 275 rooms — there are just over 100 rooms left between April 14 and 15.

The exclusive 130-room Fitzwilliam Hotel has just 17 rooms left on the Saturday — with significantly more available the following evening.

The Park Inn is just as busy — only 30 of its 145 rooms are left on April 14.

Tourists can also choose from just 35 of the Ramada Hotel’s 163 rooms on the same evening.

And in the 250-room Day’s Hotel, there were 100 and 150 rooms available on April 14 and 15 respectively — while the Hilton Hotel declined to disclose its availability.

Several hotels on the outskirts of the city centre meanwhile were booked to capacity.

Belfast City councillor Maire Hendron — who sits on the city’s development committee — said the shortage of space is concerning.

“It is getting fairly tight,” she said.

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