7 Best Boutique Hotels in Northern Ireland
Whether you want to immerse yourself in the buzz of a city or escape to the Northern Irish countryside, there’s a beautiful boutique hotel to suit. This country might be small, but it delivers on everything between swish city breaks to peaceful, rural retreats. But to really make the most of your Northern Irish getaway, you’ll want to stay in the best hotels. Staying in a boutique hotel is a brilliant way to maximise your break – they excel on delivering a personalised service and are typically smaller and more intimate than larger or chain hotels. We looked at reviews, value for money, restaurant quality, service, location, and amenities to find the best boutique hotels in Northern Ireland.
Best Boutique Hotels in Northern Ireland, How do these rankings work?
This Gothic countryside manor could easily be mistaken for a castle, sitting high on the Holywood Hills. The views contribute to this hotel’s appeal – its hillside location benefits from gorgeous views across Belfast Lough and the surrounding rolling hills. The extensive grounds are lovely to explore – a real-life fairytale garden, leading down to nearby coastal walks. From this serene location, you wouldn’t think you were just outside of Belfast. It’s a wonderful place to relax and recharge, not least for its marble steam room, world-class spa, and well-equipped fitness facilities. Guests can book extra beauty treatments and massages, too.
Culloden Estate & Spa was built in 1876, and its long history can be felt in the grand dining areas and elegant bedrooms. The antique furniture, historical paintings, and chandeliers add to the hotel’s overall period feel. It might feel a little dated for some, but it’s this long withstanding grandeur that has fortified Culloden as one of the best boutique hotels in Northern Ireland. The friendly team also take this hotel from great to exceptional – nothing is too much trouble, and they excel on providing that boutique guest experience.
The Merchant Hotel in Belfast delivers on a lot of things, the main one being the ‘wow’ factor. It’s grand, luxurious, historical, and chic. The building itself is a big part of Belfast’s architecture – it dates back to 1860 and is a Grade I listed building. The interior is just as impressive, with a domed ceiling dining room featuring columns and baroque architecture. It’s not just the extravagant style that impresses guests, the service at the Merchant Hotel is proudly five-star with polite staff that go above and beyond.
Location-wise, this hotel is in the heart of the historic Cathedral Quarter. The city centre is a short walk away, but the Cathedral Quarter is the bloodline of the city’s nightlife, with live music venues, bars, and restaurants galore. It might be a busy area, but one step into the Merchant Hotel and the outside world melts away. Especially when you’re relaxing in the atmospheric spa – there’s a candlelit relaxation area, and you can pay extra for a massage. There’s a well-equipped gym (complete with a sauna and steam room) on the rooftop terrace, but if you’re only interested in relaxing, then the outdoor rooftop hot tub might appeal to you more.
Sitting on the northern coast, this seafront hotel is a wonderful place to unwind. The location alone is impressive, guests are steps from Whiterocks Beach and a short drive from the famous Giants Causeway. It’s in a great position for a peaceful seaside getaway. Some rooms even have sea views, but not to worry if you miss out on one – the large terrace has panoramic views of the wild Irish Sea. It’s the perfect place to sip on one of the bar’s masterfully crafted signature cocktails.
It’s not just the location that makes Elephant Rock one of the best boutique hotels in Northern Ireland, the distinctive decor is a head-turner. The bedrooms are vibrant and cheerful, featuring quirky artwork and brightening touches. The dining and bar areas are also a mix of playful and elegant, with art deco stylings and a speakeasy vibe. The hotel put on regular live jazz performances for the full experience. The food in the intimate dining area sets the standard here – the excellent menu features modern dishes, using super fresh, local produce.
Set amongst stunning, regal grounds, Newforge House is a dreamy countryside escape. The Georgian manor is straight out of a storybook, ensuring guests are wrapped up in a sense of pure relaxation and bliss. Step inside and spot the original fireplaces, grand four-poster beds, and opulent sitting rooms. But Newforge House is not without its modern facilities – there are flat-screen TVs in every room and swish bathrooms. The grounds are also a joy to explore – there are quiet nooks and crannies for peaceful moments alone, and there’s also a herb garden. The herbs grown are used in the kitchen, adding to the freshness of the seasonal dishes.
Location-wise, the area is full of beautiful historical houses, gardens, and museums. The welcoming and friendly staff are more than happy to point guests in the direction of local attractions, as well as nearby walking trails.
This family-friendly hotel puts guests in the heart of Warrenpoint, on the beautiful waterfront. The views are spectacular from this boutique hotel, stretching out across Carlingford Lough and the Mourne Mountains. The front terrace is the best place to take in the scenery – even better with a crisp glass of wine in hand. There’s also a children’s play area next to the terrace, and the location is also perfectly suited to families. Whistledown Hotel is in a central spot, with plenty of outdoor activities, independent cafes, and restaurants nearby. If you’d prefer to eat at the hotel, you’re in good hands – there are three restaurants at the Whistledown. The Bistro is a more formal dining area while Finn’s is a modern, quirky restaurant. Both restaurants serve lunch and dinner, while the third restaurant, Meabh’s Lounge, is ideal for light lunches.
The hotel staff’s commitment to delivering an excellent guest experience puts Whistledown as one of the best boutique hotels in the country. As well as welcoming guests with warm hospitality, they also offer laundry service, dry cleaning, and secure luggage storage.
This stylish boutique hotel is in a fantastic position to explore Derry, with views of the famous Derry City Walls from several of the rooms. Each of those rooms are completely unique, offering a bespoke experience to every guest that steps in. The small hotel describes itself as ‘customer focused’, showing their intention to prioritise the guests’ needs and wants. It’s all about the people, here, which makes the Shipquay Hotel stand out in the crowd. The restaurant has also become popular with non-guests, so you know it’s going to be good. The impressive a la carte menu is made of only the best local ingredients, with a good mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, and the wine list is extensive. The hotel cocktail bar, the Lock & Quay, is the perfect atmospheric spot for a post-dinner nightcap.
There are distinctly Irish touches around the hotel that stand out as uniquely special, particularly their range of 100% Irish seaweed, organic toiletries. The commitment to an exceptional guest experience and attention to detail is what makes the Shipquay Hotel so brilliant.
Located on the shores of Lough MacNean, the Customs House Country Inn has everything needed for a peaceful country escape. There are stunning views across the lough from the terrace – you can even spot the famous Hanging Rock from here. It’s the perfect place to enjoy your morning coffee, before spending the day exploring this beautiful corner of Northern Ireland. It’s known for its outdoor activities, surrounded by mountains, hiking trails, forests, waterfalls, caves, and loughs.
The world-class restaurant also benefits from stunning views of the lough, so guests can tuck into their dinner with a view. The contemporary dishes change to complement the seasons, using only the freshest and finest local ingredients. The menu is based on its surroundings, immersing guests further into Belcoo’s beauty. The dishes are paired with an excellent selection of wine to round off the perfect evening. Each of the bedrooms are designed to provide the utmost level of comfort, luxury, and pampering. With super cosy beds and bathrooms stocked with luxury toiletries, a good night’s sleep is guaranteed at Customs House.