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Review: Tale of two cities at The Fitzwilliam Belfast and Dublin - luxurious staycation that you don't want to end

By Claire Williamson

"Is your cocktail ok ladies?” - that was how our tale of two cities began and it was a story that you simply didn’t want to end.

This was a masterclass in the ’staycation’ with a weekend so luxurious you felt as rested as if you had been away for a week.

They say the best things come in twos - and when it’s a night in Belfast followed by another in Dublin, it definitely is.

On Friday evening, we left behind the pouring rain and grey skies as we were whisked into the beautifully refurbished Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast by the doorman - and just like that our five star weekend had truly started.

It’s got the perfect location, standing discretely next door to the Grand Opera House and I’ll admit there is something extra-satisfying about staying in a hotel less than 10 minutes from your house.

The stunning foyer of the Fitzwilliam stops you in your tracks and the roaring fire draws you in. The huge long windows let you see the bustling city while you are warm and comforted in the elegant blends of pink and green decor.

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Relax in the calming foyer of the Fitzwilliam Belfast

After being met with a smile on reception we instantly felt welcome and the discretely attentive service was consistent throughout our stay.

The Executive Suite is quite simply elegance in room form.

The huge bed first commands your attention and adorning it was the quintessential hotel robes and slippers. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff. Having arrived later than planned we enquired on the off chance that they might be able to fit us in for dinner - and a short phonecall later we were in the bar awaiting to be called to our table.

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The beautiful rooms in the Fitzwilliam Belfast

The cocktail menu is fab - my recommendation would be the espresso martini, while my friend Rebekah opted for the classic Cosmopolitan, which was equally well received.

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Cocktails at the Fitzwilliam Belfast

And soon we were in food heaven. This is an added extra to the deal - but it is definitely worth it.

Our waiter Aiden was full of recommendations. The blue souffle starter was a real highlight and the dessert of chocolate fondant was to die for.

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Twice Baked Cashel Blue Soufflé, Carrot Salad, Caramelised Walnut, Pickled Shallot at Fitzwilliam Belfast

Breakfast was a treat with homemade pancakes, bacon and syrup. We needed to have a hearty meal ahead of our travels - because after all, it is called the tale of two cities for a reason - and it was time for the second stop on our luxurious adventure.

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The breakfast spread at the Fitzwilliam Belfast

And why should the five star treatment not continue on the transport? Translink have lent their support to this venture providing guests availing of the offer First Class travel to Dublin.

While getting comfy in our large and roomy seats we were offered some complimentary juice. A small but memorable touch.

The journey lasts around 2 hours but you barely notice the time go by and there is a full menu of  food and drink available to purchase on board.

A couple of games of jack change-it later and we had reached Dublin at the second part of our tale of two cities.

The Fitzwilliam Dublin is situated where Grafton Street meets St Stephen’s Green. But as you step in the door - the madness of the busy city is left behind and your relaxation mode is firmly switched on.

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The front entrance of the Fitzwilliam Dublin

We were met on arrival by Josephina whose warmth and energy made me the most excited I’ve ever felt arriving at a hotel. Our room on the fifth floor was decadent. It was hard to miss the huge Kingsize four-poster bed which demanded your attention.

But our favourite was the plush chaise longue by the window.

Now we had intended to do something cultural that afternoon - but the window seat overruled and instead we remained there until a knock at the door tore us away.

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Complimentary Prosecco on arrival at the Fitzwilliam Dublin

But we were more than happy to answer when it was two glasses of complimentary Prosecco.

The cocktail menu has recently been updated and they are not to be missed. I had the 50 Shades and it was divine - my friend opted for the Espresso Martini which was equally wonderful. A sample of the gin menu is also recommended.

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50 Shades cocktail

An example of the attentiveness of staff was when I briefly mentioned how it was raining outside when we were discussing our plan to take a look around the shops - and minutes later I was presented an umbrella - nothing is too much trouble.

While there if you fancy an added something special - dinner at the hotel is a taste extravaganza. It offers three diverse dining options from a casual bite to unique Irish cuisine.

We ate at the Citron which offers a fresh twist with a modern take on Mediterranean Cuisine.

Three courses of pure bliss followed. From a starter of a heirloom tomato tart to seared organic salmon.

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Heirloom Tomato tarte
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Seared organic salmon

And although all that was more than enough - it was only right to have the dessert too - an upside down cheesecake finished the meal off perfectly.

You couldn’t be stuck for things to do on a Saturday night in Dublin - and there is something for everyone.

The Fitzwilliam is walking distance to the hotspot of Harcourt Street so we ventured there. And soon it was time for breakfast and homemade waffles, bacon and syrup awaited us on the vast menu.

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Again we were impeccably well catered for as we were even asked if the breeze from the front door was ok - nothing goes unnoticed to make sure your stay is perfect.

The sun had decided to shine and we went for an explore around St Stephen’s Green to work up an appetite before our final food based activity of our stay.

Afternoon Tea. Now when you say those two words there is a general vision of the full cake stand that comes to mind.

But cast that from your mind - as this was anything from traditional.

The Fitzwilliam Dublin’s afternoon tea is an added extra - but it’s a contemporary, taste explosion and visually overwhelming experience.

First you are presented with the choice of six teas, you get the chance to enjoy the aromas of them all before making your choice.

I opted for the lemon and ginger while my friend had the strawberry and champagne.

It was the perfect refresher before our food arrived.

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Gone were the little sandwiches and instead it was a treat for the eyes as well as the mouth.

Every item on the platter sparked and ‘ooh’ or an ‘aah’ and it’s safe to say they tasted as good as they looked.

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A glass of prosecco and a cocktail finished our extravaganza.

And before we know it we were on our way back to the train.

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The journey home was eased by knowing it was a further two hours of luxury before we returned to reality.

How to book:

For more information about the Fitzwilliam Belfast and to book this deal, log onto www.fitzwilliamhotelbelfast.com telephone 0044 28 9044 2080, email enq@fitzwilliamhotelbelfast.com or call in Fitzwilliam Belfast, Great Victoria Street, Belfast, BT2 7BQ.

For more information about the Fitzwilliam Dublin, log onto www.fitzwilliamhoteldublin.com, telephone +353 1 478 7000, email enq@fitzwilliamhotel.com or call in Fitzwilliam Dublin 127/128 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland

Rate - €480 for 2 nights or £425 for 2 nights

Dinner at the hotel and afternoon tea are not included in the offer.

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