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1893 Grand Central Opened

The Grand Central Hotel opened on Royal Avenue in Belfast on Thursday 1 June, 1893. It was the brainchild of Downpatrick man John Robb, who had originally planned to develop a massive central railway terminus on the site based on New York’s famous Grand Central Station but reluctant town councilors did not give him the backing he needed. Instead, Robb developed a magnificent hotel with over 200 bedrooms and suites over five floors.

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1927 Grand Central Sold

Not surprisingly, the Grand Central became the social hub of Belfast and soon garnered a reputation as the finest hotel in Ireland. Following the outbreak of war, the Robb family learned that their beloved hotel was to be requisitioned for use by the Imperial Government in Whitehall. Reluctantly, the Robb family auctioned the entire contents of the hotel only to discover after several months that a mistake had been made and the requisition was meant for the Grand Central Hotel in Bristol.

Sadly, faced with the task of re-furnishing the entire hotel, the Robbs sold the business to a consortium led by the Scotch whisky distiller, John Grant, who, in 1927, reopened the hotel in which quickly regained its former status.

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1960 A Social Hub

In the ensuing years Winston Churchill, King Leopold of Belgium, Billy Graham, Al Jolson and Mario Lanza were some of the distinguished guests who relaxed on the magnificent ornamental bed of room 217 – the hotel’s most celebrated suite.

Other celebrities from the world of entertainment included The Lone Ranger (Clayton Moore), Bob Hope and cowboy film star Gene Autrey. By the time the swinging sixties arrived, it was the Beatles and the Rolling Stones that brought crowds thronging once more to the Grand Central in search of something special.

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1969 Doors shut

As one might guess, the trouble that the city endured from 1969 onwards, brought the curtain down on this magnificent city institution, but now that we are looking forward to a more peaceful and prosperous future, it seems appropriate that the name of the Grand Central should once more become a byword in Belfast for splendour, service and style.

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2018 A legend Reborn

The new Grand Central is the second of its kind, a contemporary reincarnation of a Victorian hotel with the same name that glimmered on Royal Avenue from 1893 to 1979. The modern equivalent is beautifully simple, simply beautiful on every sublime level. Inside grandeur meets glamour just as it did in the Grand Central of yesteryear. Historic stories, of the linen families and the maritime history of Belfast featuring the omnipresent seahorse inspire the contemporary design and luxury is elevated by local authenticity.  The hotel is truly something to behold, a new jewel for Belfast with an old soul.

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