Belfast Telegraph

Sneak peek in new Northern Ireland Hotel aiming to bring the European style

Sneak peek at Ireland's first AC Hotel by Marriott

Room with a view: one of the Marriott hotel bedrooms
Room with a view: one of the Marriott hotel bedrooms
The dining room
The exterior of the hotel
Jean-Christophe Novelli
Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

Ahead of its opening next month, the Belfast Telegraph got a sneak peek at the new AC Hotel by Marriott at Belfast's City Quays.

The 188-room hotel represents a £25m investment by owners Belfast Harbour and will create 80 jobs.

AC Hotels was first launched by Spanish hotelier Antonio Catalan in Madrid in 1998, and the new location in Belfast is designed to have the pared-back, European feel with which the brand has become associated.

The AC Hotel Belfast will be the first Marriott in Northern Ireland and the first AC Hotel by Marriott on the island of Ireland. It is also the first built-to-specification AC Hotel in the UK, as opposed to others which have seen existing hotels rebranded.

The designer hotel features an almost entirely glazed façade providing a panoramic view across the river Lagan towards Titanic Quarter and the wider cityscape.

"We wanted it to have the European vibe, as if you could just pick up the hotel and drop it in Barcelona or Venice and it wouldn't be out of place," explained Amanda McBride, head of sales for AC by Marriott Hotels.

"The space is very open-planned, with lots of natural light and some absolutely stunning views. From one side you have Cave Hill and the city, and on the other you have the water."

On the culinary front, the hotel features the Novelli at City Quays restaurant, designed by award-winning chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.

The Michelin-star winning chef has created the menu and style of the restaurant, while Jim Mulholland, the former head chef at the Ballyrobin Country Lodge, will be heading up the kitchen.

Local produce will also feature heavily in the kitchen, with Craigavon's Hannan Meats and Belfast's Ewing's Seafood, among others, keeping the pantry stocked.

Lisa Steele, who previously operated the Hotel du Vin in Edinburgh, has taken up the leading position of general manager.

The AC Hotel by Marriott will have two classes of room, with the only difference between the standard and superior rooms being the views offered.

"Being in Northern Ireland, we've made a few changes to make it suit the location," said Ms McBride.

"For instance, instead of continental breakfast we'll serve hot breakfast and we will also be doing room service.

"We are on track to open our doors in April. We're 95% staffed and just putting the finishing touches on the façade and exterior, which will be completed shortly."

The AC Hotel is just one of several new hotels coming to Belfast in the next few years.

See Weekend Magazine for an interview with Jean-Christophe Novelli

Belfast Telegraph