As romantic retreats go, Derry has often been eclipsed by its north coast neighbours and brazen Belfast big brother. But the opening of Bishop's Gate Hotel has heralded a newfound confidence in the city's seductive appeal. In fact, just this January and less than a year after opening, TripAdvisor rated Bishop's Gate as the UK's second best hotel. Not bad for the new kid on the bloc.
Situated next to the eponymous entrance within Derry's 17th Century Walls, this former Gentleman's Club has been reborn as an elegant, award-winning overnight option. Its stunning Edwardian facade speaks of a refined era when the city's good and great congregated to dine, debate and do business.
Today's clientele can enjoy the same exquisite ambience, from the foyer's sweeping staircase to the colourful expanse of stained glass windows. The original revolving door (in its heyday, local children used to sneak in for burls) motions you inside to a cosy fireside nook and, just beyond, the bustling Wig Champagne Bar & Gown Restaurant. Wood panelling, grand portraits and wingback chairs continue the historic air, as the chatter of locals and visitors combine to create a convivial vibe.
The menu rejoices with plenty of local, seasonal produce, from crispy pork belly to supreme of guinea fowl, spiced rump lamb to pan seared sea bass. Afternoon Teas and Sunday Lunches complete the popular culinary offerings.
Thirty one gorgeously appointed bedrooms exude a soft palette of greys and creams with touches of ochre, yellow and rose. Individual layouts take advantage of the hotel's Grade B1 listing with high ceilings and original features throughout. And suites overlook the city rooftops, River Foyle and neighbouring St. Columb's Cathedral. All rooms have fluffy bathrobes and slippers, Rituals toiletries and separate desk areas.
Everything a sightseer could desire is right on the doorstep, as is a handy car park just across from the entrance. Before you depart, ask staff to show you the Siege Well, said to pre-date the famous walls and a real link to the fascinating history of this unique city.