This time, we headed for an overnight at the evergreen Everglades Hotel, part of the Hastings Group and a fixture in Derry’s tourism scene for more than four decades. With Belfast’s iconic Europa and Newcastle’s elegant Slieve Donard Hotels among their impressive portfolio, the Hastings guys and gals know their stuff.
The Everglades has had a stylish makeover, its spacious foyer with grand piano and elegant Library Bar delivering an instant ‘wow’ factor. And the sparkling Grand Ballroom is the largest in the North West. Bedrooms are equally luxurious and boast ‘cloud beds’ that promise the best sleep of your life. Ideal for recharging after a day exploring Derry City.
Derry’s crowning glory is undoubtedly its 17th century walls, built by early English and Scottish Protestant settlers and providing defence during the Siege of Derry. Walking the walls is a Derry must-do, and its riveting story is brought to life by the award-winning Martin McCrossan City Walking Tours.
The late Martin pioneered tourism in his native city, and his daughter Charlene and the team are committed to continuing his legacy with these impartial and entertaining tours. They cost just £4 for a one hour gentle stroll, and that includes entrance to St. Columb's Cathedral and a cuppa after your walk.
The mighty River Foyle slices through Derry, with the iconic Peace Bridge connecting the Walled City and Bogside with Ebrington and the Waterside. Cross this curved pedestrian expanse to visit the Walled City Brewery (www.walledcitybrewery.com, (+44) (0)28 7134 3336), a restaurant and brewhouse opened by James Huey and his wife Louise.
The couple have successfully combined their love of beers and food to bring Derry a fantastic, contemporary hub at the heart of emerging Ebrington Square. Their brews are blessed with Derry-esque names including Kicks (of The Undertones' Teenage variety), Stitch (celebrating the city's shirtmaking history) and Boom (after the defensive river barricade during the 17th century Seige). A hotel and whiskey distillery are poised to join the brewery in 2018 as this reimagined army barracks sits at the heart of a New Derry~Londonderry.
Our whistle-stop tour of this compact and friendly city ends as it began; onboard Translink’s Derry-Belfast train whose Derry-Coleraine section hugs the coastline, passing stunning Mussenden Temple. The route has been hailed by no less than Michael Palin as one of the Great Railway Journeys of the World. And if anyone knows his classy tracks, Palin does.
Bed & Breakfast at the Everglades starts from just £50pp and can be booked via www.hastingshotels.com/everglades-hotel, tel (+44) (0)28 7132 1066 and plan your train journey at www.translink.co.uk, tel. (+44) (0)28 9066 6630. When you arrive, hop on the free bus into town and get your bearings at the Visit Derry Information Centre where you can also organise your City Tour, www.derrycitytours.com, tel. (+44) (0)28 7127 1996.