More than a century after the RMS Titanic was lost on its doomed maiden journey and some 20 years after James Cameron directed the blockbuster movie that depicted the tragedy, the world’s obsession with the most famous ship of all time is unlikely to cease. At least that’s the impression after learning of people naming their children “Jack” and “Rose,” or after discovering that Belfast, the city where the Titanic was built, now has a brand new Titanic hotel.
It took two years to build the Titanic Hotel Belfast, and the construction efforts have reportedly cost around $37.8 million. The historic edifice of Harland & Wolff Drawing Offices was transformed into something stunning, to say the least. The location was carefully selected, for this was the place where prominent architects, ship engineers, and constructors sat and worked for hours, sketching out the drafts of hundreds, if not thousands, of ocean liners, the Ship of Dreams included.
That same headquarters is now the slightly futuristic-looking Titanic hotel. Undoubtedly, careful refurbishment was needed to get the new look of the place while retaining the history that was connected, one way or another, with the Titanic’s origins. The hotel has preserved spaces such as the “telephone exchange,” which received the first message sent that the Titanic hit an iceberg.
The preserved areas include the headquarters of the former directors, including Thomas Andrews, who was the first architect of the RMS Titanic. Andrews would lose his life on the ship, reportedly being last seen close to the first-class room for smokers, not long before the ship disappeared beneath the sea on the morning of April 15, 1912.
The office of notable Irish shipbuilder Lord Pirrie, who served as chairman of Harland and Wolff between 1895 and 1924, has also been preserved. It was under Pirrie’s watch that the sister ships were built, the RMS Olympic and the RMS Britannic.
Another space is the office of Charles Payne, who was the shipyard manager at Harland & Wolff. In fact, if anyone could be seen as having “launched” the Titanic, it would be him. It was under Payne’s order that the ocean-liner hydraulic machinery went on for the first time, moving the ship from the slipway into the water.
Such offices can be checked out just in front of the hotel. The facilities are also to be used as exhibition spaces, featuring the very first exhibition that thematically explores the conservation efforts of the venue and how things proceeded during the two years of building and reconstruction.
So along with being a hotel, the Titanic Hotel Belfast is, in a way, a memorial building, offering daily tours to visitors to see its original spaces.
The hotel rooms, 119 in total, have an Art Deco design subtly mixed with artwork and pieces of furniture that create a Harland and Wolff sort of ambiance. The rates start from $168 per night.
James Eyre, the commercial director of the newly built venture, has said that this is one of the “world’s largest urban-waterfront regeneration projects” and “it should be counted as a splendid venue for many visitors, as much as locals.”
The project was accomplished thanks to the efforts of Harcourt Developments and was also funded by the Titanic Foundation. It opened its doors to guests and visitors in September 2017.