Belfast Telegraph

Huge appetite for Christmas Day dining out despite sky-high prices in Northern Ireland

By Claire McNeilly

Mouth-watering dinners at eye-watering prices are all the rage this Christmas, with families forking out up to £600 for a festive lunch for four - and that doesn't even include drinks.

Indeed, it has become so popular to pay for someone else to dish out the main meal on December 25 that many high-end establishments have been sold out for months.

So even if you're willing to hand over as much as £195 per head for some tasty turkey - or £95 for a child under 12 - you could already be far too late to reserve a table.

The majestic Merchant Hotel in Belfast, which boasts two restaurant venues for Christmas lunch, was fully booked by September, while the remaining places at the Culloden's Mitre eatery near Holywood were snapped up last week.

Research conducted by the Belfast Telegraph also found there's no availability at popular hotels in Londonderry, Dundonald, Larne, Newcastle and Ballygally - with most reservations made "months ago".

There are still a smattering of tables left in establishments in Ballymena, Templepatrick, Carrickfergus, Lisburn and Enniskillen but they're filling up fast - and it's not even December.

Tables at The Merchant's Great Room Restaurant, where the bill for a "sumptuous six-course Christmas lunch" for a family-of-four is £580, have all been taken since the beginning of September.

For £195 per adult and £95 per child you'll enjoy a Champagne reception followed by starter, mulled wine sorbet, main course, dessert and cheese, finishing off with mince pies and petits fours.

Around the corner in Bert's Jazz Bar, also fully booked, patrons will be sampling a "mouth-watering" six-course Christmas offering priced at £125 per person on December 25.

An "exquisite traditional Christmas Day five-course luncheon" at the Mitre Restaurant in the plush Culloden costs £175 a head for adults and children over 12, while younger kids (aged 4-11) will set you back a mere £95 each.

That's all booked up but there are some places left in the Co Down hotel's Stuart Suite which costs a little less, at £140 per adult and £90 for each child under 12.

Christmas Day luncheon at the Burrendale Hotel, Newcastle, costs £69 per adult and £30 for children aged between four and 12 - but bah humbug, there's no room at the inn.

At the Everglades in Londonderry, the Grand Buffet five-course lunch comes in at £99 per adult and £50 for the under-12s, although it has been fully booked since October. And there are no tables remaining either at the Stormont Hotel in Dundonald, where a grand buffet lunch comprising five courses costs £350 for a family-of-four if both children are under 12 - £110 per adult and £65 a child.

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.

You'll also find space at the Hilton Hotel in Templepatrick, where adults can dine for £76, while children aged between 12 and 15 pay £35.

But there's no room at the Curran Court Hotel, Larne, where adults can eat for £74.99 and children under 12 dine for £34.95, while the under fives pay £9.95.

Also booked up "for quite a while" is Ballygally Castle on the Antrim coast, where a buffet costs adults £100 and children under 12 are charged £60.

Tables still remain, however, at the Premier Inn, Lisburn, where it costs adults £43.99 and children £15.99.

At Leighinmohr House Hotel, Ballymena, a five-course carvery meal comes in at £79.95 for adults and £29.95 for children - though there are only a couple 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 prices sit at £65 per adult and £40 per child.

Belfast Telegraph

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