Ships in the Night
Harland + Wolff’s former headquarters was at the heart of Belfast’s shipyard. That’s where 1,000 ships including many of the world’s most famous ocean liners were designed and built. A Who’s Who of the seas: Canberra, HMS Belfast, Majestic, Oceanic, Olympic, Teutonic. Oh, and Titanic. The birthplace of many a “floating hotel” is now a hotel itself. Puns there are aplenty in its publicity: anchor down | maid in summer | monthly sail | slip into spring. Anyone for an iced tea on the rocks? Ok, maybe that’s a bit far.
The original red brick building, constructed in stages from 1886 to 1922, has been augmented by contemporary extensions in a contrasting yet complementary style. Robinson McIlwaine Architects added a new top bedroom storey, a five storey bedroom wing, and infill glazed pavilions between the ground floor projections. Titanic had 416 First Class, 162 Second Class and 262 Third Class bedrooms. Titanic Hotel has 120 first class bedrooms: four metre high ceilings and monochromatic tiled wet rooms. Industrial chic.
The Typists’ Room is now the hotel reception. The offices lining the Queen’s Road elevation – Lord Pirrie’s, Mr Quin’s, Mr Morrison’s, the Secretary’s, the Chairman’s and so on – have become meeting rooms. The Telephone Exchange, which received the first communication of Titanic hitting an iceberg, has been switched to a sitting room. The Stores Department has been converted to a bar. The barrel vaulted double height twin Drawing Offices flanking the Typists’ Room have become the principal lounge and dining room respectively. Upstairs, the Estimating Department is now a lounge while the Progress Department has been split into two bedrooms. The synonymous hotel and museum are cheek by jowl, gable by bow.
“Titanic Quarter is great for a wee dander but mind you don’t get foundered.”
“Keep yer eyes peeled for the dock.”
“For a long time this place was Dunderin Inn.”
“Wait a ye see they’ve kept the windies of the oul building.”
“You can have a quare geg in the Drawing Room.”
“C’mon to get fed and watered in the Wolff Grill.”
“If you’ve hapes of money and all dolled up head for afternoon tea in the Presentation Room.”
“Get blootered in the Harland Bar.”