This boutique hotel is an elegant and extremely stylish Georgian conversion running over three floors in one of Belfast's few remaining Georgian terraces. Two glass gas lamps hang above the entrance, and the hotel looks out on to bustling Botanic Avenue, which has a raffish atmosphere and is full of off-beat shops and mid-range ethnic restaurants.
The original layout of the house has been strictly adhered to wherever possible, with plenty of nooks and crannies, banisters and small stairways. It also has dramatic, decorative gold wallpaper and an aubergine-coloured carpet. It is easy to lose your way in the warren of corridors, where you half expect to turn a corner and bump into some kind of literary ghost.
Its unique selling point is the contrast between something old and something new. Depending on your taste, you can stay in one of the two meticulously restored Georgian bedrooms or, alternatively, you can plump for a more modern room, which has sleek, beige lines, extremely smart leather sofas and armchairs and a range of chic, sugar-cubed shaped lampshades.
The Crescent Townhouse stands in the University Quarter in south Belfast, just off University Road, which is a conservation area.
The comfort factor
There are 17 recently refurbished rooms. The two Georgian rooms have Ralph Lauren curtains, bed canopies and duvets. In the modern rooms, contemporary touches include gleaming metal stand- alone coat hangers and plasma TV screens. Be sure to spend some time in the atmospheric, wood-panelled library, where you can recline in luxurious armchairs.
Soaps and smellies from Molton Brown, a walk-in monsoon shower and a distinctive, box-shaped Belfast sink. The Georgian rooms have olde-worlde stand-alone baths.
The food and drink
The hotel's Metro brasserie, which has the atmosphere of an upmarket wine bar, enjoys rave reviews from both the AA and the Good Food Guide. Dishes, though traditional, are served with no small amount of flair, and include Cumberland sausages, sirloin fillet and duck confit. Expect to pay around £25 a head for two courses, excluding drinks. Breakfast, included in the price of your room, offers a gentrified version of the Ulster fry (think full English breakfast, then add cholesterol). The hotel also runs Bar Twelve, a snug, oak-panelled pub next door.
Couples on weekend breaks make up a good portion of the clientele; plenty of business visitors during the week.
Queen's University, the Ulster Museum and its excellent early Ireland exhibition, and the botanic gardens are a hop, skip and a jump away - just turn right out of the hotel and then left on to University Road. Otherwise, you are a 15-minute walk from Donegal Square and the city's heart.
There is one room designed for wheelchair users and there is a lift and a stairlift.
Standard doubles cost £105 for a room per night, rising to £145 for a senior suite during the week. These are reduced to £85 and £120 respectively during the weekend throughout the year.
The Crescent Townhouse, 13 Lower Crescent, Belfast BT7 1NR (028 9032 3349; crescenttownhouse.com).Reuse content