Belfast Telegraph

Christmas Day dinner: Where can family of four dine out for £700?


There is a lot of demand for Christmas dinners at hotels this year
There is a lot of demand for Christmas dinners at hotels this year
Loughshore Hotel: £80 per head
Culloden Hotel: £180 per head (adults)
The Stormont Hotel: £115 per head
Merchant Hotel: £700 family of four
The Cloth Ear: £95 per head
Merchant Hotel: £700 family of four

By Claire McNeilly, consumer correspondent

You'll not be going ho ho ho when you see what some hotels are charging for Christmas dinner this year - with the yuletide bill for a family of four coming in at an eye-watering £700 without drinks.

But even if you have deep pockets and don't mind shelling out the big bucks for festive cheer away from home, the bad news is that many high-end establishments in Northern Ireland have been sold out for weeks.

Indeed it has become so popular to pay for someone else to dish out a main meal on December 25 that no-one bats an eyelid when the accompanying price tag hits up to £225 for an adult and £125 per child.

Belfast's landmark Merchant Hotel, which usually boasts two venues for Christmas lunch, said both of them were fully booked by the end of September so they've added a third dining option for the first time this year.

Research conducted by the Belfast Telegraph found that although it's exactly 10 weeks until Christmas Day, finding a suitable slot at an eatery of your choosing could be quite a challenge.

Tables at The Merchant's Great Room Restaurant, where the bill for a "sumptuous six-course Christmas lunch" for a family-of-four is £700 (up £120 from 2018), have all been taken since the end of last month.

For £225 per adult and £125 per child you'll enjoy a Champagne reception followed by starter, champagne sorbet, main course, dessert and cheese, finishing off with tea or coffee and mince pies and petits fours.

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Around the corner in its sister venue Bert's Jazz bar, also fully booked, diners can enjoy a "mouth-watering" six-course Christmas offering priced at £150 per adult and £75 per child on December 25.

Meanwhile, The Cloth Ear, a first this year, is £95 per adult.

An "exquisite traditional Christmas Day five-course luncheon" in Vespers Restaurant at the plush Culloden costs £180 a head for adults and children over 12, while younger kids (aged from four to 11) will set you back a mere £95 each.

There was only one table left there yesterday but there is more availability in the Co Down hotel's Stuart Suite which costs a little less, at £145 per adult and £95 for each child under 12.

Christmas Day luncheon at the Burrendale Hotel, Newcastle, costs £70 per adult and £30 for children aged under 12 - but there were just places left for the 12.30pm sitting when we checked yesterday morning.

At the Everglades in Londonderry, the Grand Buffet five-course lunch comes in at £100 per adult and £55 for the under-12s, although, bah humbug, it has been fully booked since the end of September.

There are some tables remaining at the Stormont Hotel in Dundonald, where "a mouth-watering array of appetisers, roasts, main courses and desserts" costs £115 per adult and £70 per child under 12 (and kids under six are free) but be warned: staff expect there to be no room at the inn by the end of the week.

A five-course Christmas carvery at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel in Carrickfergus is £80 for adults and £30 for children aged three to 12, and there is still availability.

Although it's "filling up quickly" according to staff, you'll also find space at the Hilton Hotel in Templepatrick where adults can dine for £92, while children aged 13 and over pay £45 and those aged six to 12 cost £15.

There's only one table at noon at the Curran Court Hotel, Larne, where adults can eat for £75 and children under 12 dine for £35, while the under fives fork out £10.

Sadly you're too late if you fancy fully booked Ballygally Castle on the Antrim coast, where a buffet costs adults £110 and children under 12 are charged £70.

Tables still remain, however, at the Premier Inn, Lisburn, where it costs adults £43.99 for three courses and children aged between four and 15 £15.99 for three courses or £6.99 for two.

At Leighinmohr House Hotel, Ballymena, a four-course carvery meal comes in at £95 for adults and £30 for children aged six to 12, while kids aged three to five pay £15 - and there are "plenty of spaces left".

But you can't have a standalone Christmas dinner at the Manor House Country Hotel in Enniskillen - it doesn't offer Christmas dinner to non-residents but if you fancy a two-night stay including food (Christmas Eve and Christmas night) it'll set you back £380 for two adults.

Belfast Telegraph