Categories: accommodation

If you’re looking for a romantic getaway with a difference, you’ve come to the right place. In among Northern Ireland’s city hotels, castles and friendly B&Bs are some very unusual holiday locations. In truth, some may well be a city hotel or a castle but they’ll have lashings of attitude and a unique spirit which makes them all the more interesting.

Belfast – the buzziest city around

George Best House is the childhood home of footballing legend George Best, a dreamer at heart whom the whole world fell in love with. It was from here that he set off to join the famous Manchester United and take the football world by storm. If you’ve secretly dreamed of following in his footsteps, spend a night or two here and who knows what could follow?

Or meet Dinky, Comfy and Roomy at Bullitt Hotel. Cosy rooms that have everything you actually need for a city centre stay. King size beds, rain showers and super-fast Wi-Fi.   

Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio said it with tears in the movie epic Titanic. Now you can say it for real where the real thing began, at the very authentic Titanic Hotel – the one-time Harland & Wolff Headquarters and Drawing Offices. Handy for the world-famous Titanic Belfast attraction, you’d think. Just open the door and you’re there.

Magical Antrim, your way

With rooms called Lapwing, Heron, Brown Trout and Irish Hare, you know the beautifully styled Ballylagan Organic Farm is somewhere very special. A private promenade takes you to the shore at Abbey Self-Catering (5*) three stunning properties in the grounds of a Georgian mansion. And it doesn’t get much more romantic than the Barbican at Glenarm (4*), practically your own mini-Castle. 

At their prime in the glory days of Belfast shipping (they guided Titanic on her journey), the restored Blackhead Lightkeepers Cottages have unrivalled views across the Irish Sea. Fool’s Haven, a gem of a thatched cottage, overlooks Belfast Lough, where you’ll also find the 150-year-old Coast Guard Boathouse and shipwrecks on the beach. 

Even more out of the ordinary, yet close to everything you want, the quirky Clydesdale Shepherd’s Hut packs modern comfort into a very tiny space. The Old Flax Mill harks back to Belfast’s industrial past and the Foxborough Bubble Den brings you bang up to date with a night in a Bubble and under the stars.

Pottering about Armagh

Ballydougan Pottery Courtyard Cottages make for a dreamy romantic getaway with pottery classes on site, if you wish. Memories of Ghost, anyone? There are memories to be made too at Tepee Valley. Here, glamping comes in all shapes and sizes, from yurts and gypsy caravans to a Geodesic dome – for extra special views.

Close to Craigavon, the Old School House is now the most romantic of country retreats. Or you might prefer self-catering in a Post House apartment, probably not one you’ve thought of before.

Tales of the Causeway Coast

Storytelling is part of the fabric of Northern Irish life and at Ballyeamon Barn in Cushendell you get to create one of your own. Here, at the hostel, you mix with local musicians, singers and tellers of tales to experience the folklore, music and dance of the Antrim Glens. Something out of the ordinary and certainly unforgettable.

As is Rathlin Island, a bird colony and puffin paradise off the coast of Ballycastle. Take the ferry across and arrive to a warm welcome at the Manor House Hotel. And from any passing guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills and fulmars.

For transport of another kind, try Castlerock Classics Vintage VW Camper Van. Not that you’ll get very far in their 1979 Devon conversion as she’s fully kitted out for a quirky and fun stay. For the record, her name is Sally.

If you prefer to be under canvas, try Swann’s Bridge Luxury Bell Tents near Limavady. Everything’s provided. So all you need to bring is your sense of adventure. While at Bushmills, you’ll find Aunt Rachel’s Causeway Coast Wigwams. 

On to Derry-Londonderry

Art House or Jazz House? You choose. Two Edwardian townhouses, one inspired by the glamour of the roaring 20’s, the other by the 1930’s Speak-Easy era. Both are just five minutes from the city centre – and like nothing you’ve seen before. 

Bishop’s Gate Hotel Apartments are boutique self-catering within the famous city walls, where you’ll also find the Sorley Boys Snug – a loft-style sanctuary for couples who want to get away from it all. Yet still be at the heart of it. 

There’s a guesthouse with literary links in nearby Magherafelt, just 10 minutes from Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney’s birthplace. Laurel Villa Guesthouse (4*) has a collection of Heaney memorabilia, rare special editions and run specialist tours on his life and work.

Winding down in County Down

Larchfield Estate Cottages hides a truly romantic getaway gem. Myrtle Luxury Glamping Truck is a beautifully adapted and fitted out 1952 Saurer Swiss Army truck - complete with a wood burning stove, under bed heating, sauna and fire pit. 
Donaghadee’s boutique B&B, One Shore Street (5*), is ultimate luxury with cashmere mattresses and the sounds of the harbour outside. There’s 17th century elegance at The Manor House, close to the legendary Grace Neils - reputedly the oldest pub in Ireland. And extreme amounts of waterside charm at the enchanting Boathouse on Sketrick Island. 

The Old Bank – it really was a bank, it has its own vault - is now a cool and quirky Portaferry base. And you can still see the original mill workings at stylish B&B, the Mill at Baloo.

If you like that top of the world feeling, the three-storey Helen’s Tower is a castle made for two, with sky-high views that go on forever. Or be king of the world in Titanic-themed luxury at Rayanne Guest House (5*), close to Belfast.

Fermanagh and its islands

It’s just a short ferry ride to Lusty Beg Island in County Fermanagh and an unbelievably romantic lakeside setting. Spectacular views, a spa retreat and a fairy trail are just part of this unique experience. The stunning Belle Isle offers a magical castle stay or a cosy cottage break. While Finn Lough Bubble Dome delivers something completely different - back to nature in a Forest Bubble Dome. Four-poster beds, all mod cons and transparent walls for star gazing.

If your dream getaway is an on-board one, take to Lough Erne in a luxury Carrick Craft motor cruiser. It’s like a cottage on the water. And it’s suitable for rookie seafarers. Training is given before you set out. Or take to the waterways in a wide-beam barge with Riversdale Barges. They’re more comfortable than a traditional narrowboat, with more living space too.

Time for Tyrone

It’s chilling time at An Creagán with peace and quiet, forest trials and newly restored self-catering cottages. While the romance of a country estate – and a choice of award-winning courtyard residences – is yours at Blessingbourne Apartments.

Or find time for cosy. With a turf fire, a free-standing bath and a four-poster bed, Rosehill House has romance in its bones. Though beneath the country charm, there’s a whole lot of modern day luxury.

Every romantic getaway should be unforgettable. And with places as unusual as these, it certainly will be. Of course, getaways make unusual gifts too. Give a holiday to someone you love (so you can come too) or surprise your friends or family. There’s something for everyone in Northern Ireland. You just have to take every chance to enjoy it.