New research looked at the cost of hotels, hairdressing, drinks, nightclubs and taxis
Belfast is the 10th most expensive UK city for a night out, according to new research from a national jewellery business.
Jewellerybox investigated various factors in each city across Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales, including the average prices of cocktails, double hotel rooms and weekend entries to nightclubs.
The retail site numbered locations based on how cheap they were out of 10, with Belfast ranking 6.62. One cocktail in the city reportedly stings punters an average of £8, with a taxi into the city centre and back (within a 10km radius) costing an average of £10.70.
The cheapest women’s cut and blow-dry at a highly rated hairdresser worked out at around £50, while the average price for a double hotel room in the city at the weekend came in at £121.
London took the number one spot for the most expensive clubbing area and Stoke-on-Trent was found to be the cheapest, also claiming the nation’s cheapest taxi fares alongside Liverpool, Kingston upon Hull, Leeds and Liverpool.
Across the rest of the region, the cheapest city for club entry is Edinburgh, Coventry has the most affordable cocktails, and Hull gives the best value for a hotel room.
Right before the coronavirus outbreak here in March 2020, Treated.com ranked Belfast as the third most affordable major UK city for a night out, after analysing the prices of pints, clubbing clothes, transport costs, and post-party takeaway meals.
That data too found London to be the dearest place for a night out. Nearly two years on, as Belfast climbs the pricing ladder, it appears social outings in the city are set to get even more pricey as the cost of living rises, despite recent research by the Living Wage Foundation revealing NI has the highest proportion of jobs paying below the living wage at 21.3%.
“From our end of things, we see how money, ticket prices and drink prices maybe are more of an issue here than other places that have higher wages, so we always endeavour to keep them as competitive as we can and we always have,” said Alan Simms, music promoter and director of Belfast nightclub The Limelight, which charges £5 for ticket entry on a Saturday night.
“We’re going to continue to do that and should Brexit or pandemic pressure cause us to have to increase prices, that will be something we might have to do in due course — but certainly there’s been no major discussions about that to date.”
In summer of this year, Belfast man Brendan Harkin compiled a list of almost 300 pint prices across Northern Ireland, finding that the 10 most expensive came from his native city.
The dearest beer, in the Grand Central hotel’s luxurious Observatory bar will set you back by £10 a pint, while their cocktails start at £14.
Brendan recalled that in a number of Belfast establishments a pint would have set you back just over £4 before the Covid-19 pandemic, but since hospitality reopened its doors, customers are now having to pay at least £5.
However, Alan believes that inflation could naturally have a part to play in this despite the complications of lockdowns and the impact of Covid-19.
“It’s no surprise that maybe some of the places have gone up in price since bars and clubs reopened, as it was nearly two years ago since they last opened, so they would have gone up anyway,” he added.
Getting to and from your party destination will also have you digging deeper in your pockets, as the maximum taxi fare set in Northern Ireland is to be further increased by 7.6% under plans to help address a shortage of drivers.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon announced the new proposals earlier this month, alongside numerous other measures to encourage new drivers into roles.
In summer, one of Belfast’s largest taxi firms, Fonacab had to turn away almost 3,000 customers on one Saturday because they did not have enough drivers.
Ms Mallon thus said that the increase in fares was taken into account due to “views expressed and the recent rise of fuel and other running costs”.
But William McCausland, managing director of Fonacab, said at the time that more needed to be done.
“The fares need to change when there is a serious shortage of drivers.
“A driver at the moment working on a Tuesday is earning almost as much as they do on a Saturday night. When would you choose to work?”