From Most ‘Bombed’ Hotel in Europe to a Belfast Beacon of Hope
For over 50 years, The Europa Hotel has been at the heart of Belfast. It opened its doors in July 1971, on the site of the former Great Northern Railway Station on Great Victoria Street. Before long it became established as a base where most journalists stayed to cover the Troubles, and was the go to venue for all major press conferences.
It is not certain how many times this iconic building was bombed, but it is estimated to be 33 times. At one point it earned the unfortunate title as the “Hardboard Hotel” as the the windows were broken so many times, resulting in those at the front of the hotel being boarded up. Hotel rooms at the back of the hotel were £10 more expensive at the time.
The hotel was bought by William Hastings and became part of The Hastings Group in 1993. It was a huge gamble but it paid off. Following an £8m investment, the hotel reopened in February 1994.
President Bill Clinton
A major turning point for the hotel and for Belfast came when former US president Bill Clinton stayed in The Europa in 1995, as part of the peace process. The suite used by the Clintons was subsequently renamed the Clinton Suite. The presidential entourage booked 110 rooms at the hotel. The Clintons stayed at the hotel several times in the years following their first visit. Bill Clinton wrote to the staff in 2002 to congratulate them on their work at the hotel. The Europa, he said, symbolised the “strength of Irish character” and was “a living reminder of an extraordinary past and the promise of an even greater future.”
Former US president Bill Clinton with concierge Martin Mulholland at the Europa Hotel in 1998
A Beacon of Hope
In early 2008, an extension to the hotel increased the height of a rear wing to twelve floors and increased bedrooms from 240 to 272.
Today, the four star Europa is now a central part of the city’s renaissance as a tourist destination. A favourite of VIPs, with its elegant decor, contemporary bistro, bustling bar and relaxing piano bar lounge.
Due to its prime location, the Europa Hotel is a short distance from many of Belfast’s top visitor attractions including the Ulster Museum, Grand Opera House, City Hall, Titanic Belfast, Waterfront Hall and SSE Arena.
It truly is an iconic hotel to experience the Renaissance of Belfast, and the best that this enduring city of hope has to offer.
For more, see The Europa Hotel