By James Walker

WHEN travelling from Glasgow to Belfast, you barely have time to adjust to the altitude before you land. Sitting at a window seat on the descent, however, I was lucky to catch a glimpse of the iconic Samson & Goliath Cranes – which jut out of Belfast’s sprawling dockyard, providing a reminder of the city’s industrial past.

The award-winning Titanic Hotel proved the perfect base from which to explore. The former headquarters of Harland & Wolff, builders of the ship itself, it mixed modern comfort and historical intrigue. My room, which was spacious and with an air of “industrial chic”, looked out towards the towering and modern eight-storey building which hosts the Titanic Experience – the first stop on my visit.

The Herald: Titanic DistillersTitanic Distillers (Image: unknown)

The exhibition inside tells the story of the Titanic but it also does so much more than that. In two hours, I felt as though I had only just scraped the surface of the tragic story and how it interacted with Belfast’s rich maritime and social history. A truly absorbing and moving experience, it was well worth the price of a ticket. (Prices start at £25 for an adult.) After a short lunch back at the hotel, the next stop was a whisky tour at the Pump House Titanic Distillery.

The distillery, situated at the Thompson dock where the eponymous ship was built, offered a behind-the-scenes look at the craft of whiskey-making. The premium tour (costing £40) includes a taste of a vodka as well as a blended whiskey. A short drink followed at the hotel bar, which used to be home to Harland & Wolff’s former Victorian drawing offices. I next took a taxi to the incredible Home Restaurant. The starters here were particularly divine, with the beef arancini and duck pate among the strong highlights. From there, a nice wander around the city centre and into the Cathedral Quarter led me to an evening of live music and a perfectly poured Guinness at the Duke of York pub to cap off the night. The next day couldn’t have started off better.

The Herald: Titanic Hotel, BelfastTitanic Hotel, Belfast (Image: TH)

The Titanic Hotel’s breakfast buffet was flawless, and the options nigh-on limitless. Perfect scrambled eggs and fresh fruit set me up nicely for a tour of the hotel from head concierge William. He took us from room to room, including the one where Harland & Wolff employees first heard of the Titanic’s tragic sinking.

Next was a taxi tour through Belfast and the history of the Troubles. Billy, whose own personal connection to the horror of the time was moving, was an excellent and measured guide as he drove us past the Divis Tower, Sandy Row and Shankill Road, to name a few. It was hard to fully contemplate how recent that painful history is with where the city is now.

A beautiful meal at Mourne Seafood Bar – and a wonderful dish of moules marinières followed by a lobster burger – proved a welcome interlude before venturing out to Royal Hillsborough, a regal castle with beautiful gardens and still the official residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. It was a fitting end to an incredible trip.

Rooms starts from £129 per night including breakfast.

GLA: Aer Lingus Regional operates a year-round service between Glasgow and Belfast City Airport, up to twice daily. With fares starting at £32.99*, customers can book their tickets now via

*One-way as part of a return trip