Splashing out: Belfast hotel hires 2 butlers to offer $40 water to gourmands

© Steve Dipaola
The posh Merchant Hotel in Belfast is expanding its water menu with 13 new brands of bottled water from across the world with a price tag of up to $40. Two special butlers were hired to help guests choose according to their preferences.

The five-star hotel’s new water buffet prices start from £4.95 ($7.5) and go up to £26.45 ($40) a bottle, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

The most expensive item on the menu is Canadian Iceberg Still harvested from an arctic ice shelf in Newfoundland, with each bottle containing 750ml of what “is considered to hold the purest water on earth” according to the description. The most affordable water Merchant Hotel has is sparkling Speyside from neighboring Scotland.

The selections originate from 10 countries, including the Faroe Islands, Fiji and Georgia, the ex-Soviet republic, not the US state.

“Just like wine, the location where water is produced will impact on its taste and flavor,” Merchant Hotel's general manager Gavin Carroll was quoted as saying.

“The ethos behind the new water menu is to allow our guests to have the chance and choice to curate their own bespoke food and beverage experience. Our water butlers can help customers decide on the type water that will best complement the food and wine they choose, to enable them to experience the perfect taste journey.”

The new water buffet will be launched this summer, the newspaper reported. The hotel plans to retain the old water menu, which includes local Irish brands.
“For those that don’t want to splash out on water, we can still offer a glass of ‘Belfast water’, free of charge,” Carroll suggested.

The announcement of Merchant Hotel’s new water menu last week didn’t escape notice and comment from Belfast residents. Amid a deluge of sarcastic comments on social media over what people called a luxury bonanza, a local bar rolled out its own water menu.

The water buffet from The Hudson Bar includes five items ranging in price from £0 “No flies on me, son. Tap water please,” to £20 - “The card I'm gonna use to pay for this? I signed it with a crayon.”

The menu says that if those offers can’t accommodate the “level of daftness” of the patron, the server would be happy to “pluck a number out of the sky” instead.