Europa Hotel Completes €17.5m Investment With Nostalgic Art Commission

By Robert McHugh
Europa Hotel Completes €17.5m Investment With Nostalgic Art Commission

Hastings Hotels has announced the completion of a €17.5 million renovation at the Europa Hotel in Belfast.

The five-year renewal project encompasses upgrades to all 272 guest bedrooms, the lobby bar, the Piano restaurant, meeting rooms, and the penthouse.

‘Belfast Icon’

“It is no mean feat to completely renovate a hotel, especially when it’s one of the busiest hotels in Northern Ireland,” said chairman Howard Hastings.

“We are thrilled to unveil the culmination of our €17.5 million investment in the Europa Hotel. This project not only modernises the hotel’s facilities, but also honours its rich heritage as a Belfast icon.”

‘Nostalgic Journey’

To commemorate the renovation, Hastings Hotels commissioned celebrated artist Colin Davidson to create new artwork that pays homage to the hotel’s historical significance.


Titled The 71, the painting aims to capture the ‘essence of a nostalgic journey home’ with an abstract rendering of the red double-decker 71 bus that both Davidson and Hastings used to take home from school.

It has added significance, as the Europa first opened its doors in 1971, on the site of the former Great Northern Railway station, when it inadvertently became a base for overseas journalists covering the Troubles, including Trevor McDonald, Kate Adie and John Sergeant.

‘Looking To The Future’

“It’s a real privilege for me – not just as an artist, but also a native of Belfast who grew up during the dark days in this city – to have a painting hanging in this iconic hotel and to see it renewed once again and looking to the future,” said Davidson.

“This painting is personal to both me and Howard. The 71 is a red double-decker bus that we both got to and from our different schools, albeit a bit further down the road and a few years apart.”

Celebrated Artist

Davidson’s work is held in many public and corporate collections worldwide, including Queen’s University, the Ulster Museum and the National Gallery of Ireland.


As well as numerous commissions, Davidson’s portrait sitters have included Brad Pitt, a former guest at the Europa, as well as Seamus Heaney, Liam Neeson, Brian Friel, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Christy Moore and Ed Sheeran.

‘Poignant Tribute’

“We are honoured to showcase Colin Davidson’s remarkable painting in our lobby, serving as a poignant tribute to the enduring spirit of the Europa,” said Hastings.

“Close up, it is an abstract blaze of red and yellow brushstrokes, and only by looking at it from a distance can the image of the double-decker bus be discerned. The painting evokes fond nostalgic childhood memories of growing up in Belfast – for Colin, myself, and I hope lots of our guests – and is a unique nod to the once-in-a-generation renewal project of this special hotel.”

Sir William Hastings

Acquired by the Hastings Hotels group in 1993, the Europa underwent a significant €9.3 million refurbishment, spearheaded by the late Sir William Hastings, before reopening in 1994.

The Europa Hotel has hosted a myriad of notable guests down the years, including President Bill Clinton, musicians including Kurt Cobain, movie stars, and fashion icons.