Hotel Review - The Regency rolls out a new model for high-end hybrid stays in Ireland
New townhouse residences in Belfast’s Queen’s Quarter blur the line between luxury hotel and self-catering beautifully
When is a hotel not a hotel? Or a short-stay apartment not an apartment?
I’m loving how hospitality is evolving in our hybrid era; how the lines between hotels, guesthouses, apartments and self-catering are being blurred. Room2 will this year bring its ‘Hometel’ concept to Belfast; Staycity and Locke Living have taken serviced aparthotels to new levels in Dublin, and it feels like you can’t throw a wheelie case these days without hitting a new cabin or lodge.
Into this whirlpool of change comes The Regency, a pair of interconnected Georgian townhouses in Belfast’s Queen’s Quarter. Reading that, you might expect a pompous little five-star, or boutiquey notions. But the €2.25m transformation of buildings found “in disheartening ruin” into a quietly confident nest of beautifully luxurious, short-stay suites is far more interesting than that.
“We think we have found a niche,” as business manager Katie Jackson tells me. “You kind of feel like you’re in your own private, hosted residence.”
The rating: 8/10
Arrival & Location
The two townhouses sit at the centre of The Crescent, an elegant, curvy terrace and park that has seen better days (and worse ones, judging by the before-and-after pics). On-street parking requires an app to pay, which is a pain, but works fine once set up. Inside, I am greeted by a receptionist and porter, offered a glass of wine, coffee or soft drink, and invited to sit on a couch as I check in.
The Regency is a project and passion of couple Anthony and Andrea Kieran, and Cecil Hetherington. The trio have restored the derelict properties over two years, using local craftspeople, taking time and care over conservation, and drawing from experiences, interiors and operations models encountered on their own travels. The result aims to compete with Belfast’s best hotel suites - the likes of The Penthouse at The Fitzwilliam, the Grand Central’s Sir William Hastings Suite or The Culloden’s Palace Suite. They’re also members of a ‘Friends of The Crescent’ group working to improve the area — a move you’d hope will pay community dividends, too.
After check-in, I’m led down a black-and-white-tiled hallway, up stairs carpeted with a deep loop runner, and shown the code to access my suite. Queen’s is on the doorstep; City Hall a 15-minute walk away. 8/10
Service & Style
There is currently no spa, pool or restaurant. However, guests can expect 24/7 “butler-style” service and a pre-arrival call to prep for and personalise their stay. Welcome hampers and some pre-stocked groceries are included in the rates, and you can also hang out in a snug nook called The Parlour, with complimentary bar, nibbles and a courtyard with fire pit (10am to 11pm).
The idea is to create a high-end “home in Belfast”. On the landing outside my suite, there is a Tanglewood guitar and stacks of vinyl (albeit a little close to the heater... they’d want to watch for warping). Tech is smart and unshowy — as well as room-key codes, you’ll find fast Wi-Fi, Netflix and Sky set up on the TVs, a Quooker boiling-water tap, and you can contact security 24/7 via call or WhatsApp. But it all sits comfortably within the Georgian vibe.
The serviced-residences model takes some inspiration from the likes of La Réserve in Paris, or Mandarin Oriental’s swanky Residences in New York (“the unmatched comfort of a home, with none of the upkeep”). But I like that it never feel pompous or overreaching. 8.5/10
Several suites offer different sizes and layouts, all with top-end but understated kitchens and original features harking back to an older Belfast. A splash of window lettering here, a collection of shirt collars there, a linen wheel on the wall, or upcycled radiators from a Victorian school, for example.
Mine is the large, two-bedroom Park Suite, anchored by a lovely kitchen-cum-living area with wooden floors, gas fire, large table and sash-window views over Crescent Gardens. It’s really lovely. Thick towels and robes, premium gear like a DeLonghi bean-to-cup coffee machine or brass taps complement hidden modcons like washers and dryers. It feels like a high-end home, and the thought, taste and quality stitched into it give me a real glow. I can easily see a family based here, or business travellers, and feel as comfy working as with my feet up watching TV.
There’s attention to detail, too. A little dish by my bed bears a White Company pillow spray and cooling eye cream. The bathroom has underfloor heating, and baby monitors are available, as just some ideas. 9/10
Food & Drink
There’s no restaurant, but you can get takeaway, cook, or order platters like a charcuterie board. The suites feel like lovely spaces to host in; private chefs or delivery of dishes like cottage pies or lasagnes can be arranged. My breakfast was a delivery from the French Village café nearby, a small hamper of fruit, yoghurt, pastries, granola and juice. It was what it was, but felt a little underwhelming - in future, an enhanced food offering will include a hot breakfast option to be served in your residence or to go, I’m told. 7/10
The bottom line
Much is written about Belfast’s booming food scene, but its accommodation has been sneaking up under the radar, too. The Regency joins another unusual townhouse, The Harrison Chambers, as well as The Merchant and refurbished Fitzwilliam as standout city stays, with others like the Grand Central and Titanic Hotel Belfast adding to a city scene arguably second only to Dublin on this island.
The Regency isn’t finished, either. In 2024, a new phase will add more townhouse stays, a wellness suite and events space to The Crescent. “We are not and will never be a hotel,” Jackson tells me. “We seek to offer the same level of service in a totally different setting.”
You can add little extras like ‘brownies and bubbles’... or private airport transfers.
Queen’s is your playground, from the Botanic Gardens and Ulster Museum to eateries like Deane’s and Molly’s Yard nearby.
Rates from £650/€742 to £2,500/€2,856 per night depending on season and suite. Pól was a guest of The Regency. theregencybelfast.com