This film is part of Free

Hardboard Hotel

Feast your eyes on this buffet for transport lovers. Squeeze in a visit to the ‘hardboard hotel’ between your train and plane spotting.

Amateur film 1970 3 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Northern Ireland Screen


A solitary plane is interrupted by footage of firefighters in Belfast. Then glimpse the Europa, nicknamed the ‘hardboard hotel’, after the wood used to cover the bomb-shattered glass. Despite being Belfast most bombed building and one of the most bombed hotels in Europe it has only closed its doors twice. Their proud motto throughout the ‘Troubles’ remained ‘we never close’. Finally fly down the motorway past the diesel trains to watch the marching bands in Portadown.

The Europa Hotel was developed by the Ulster Transport Authority. When it opened its doors in 1971 a double room cost £8 and a single room just £4.75. Since then it has been both a base for international journalists reporting on the conflict in Northern Ireland and a refuge for Hollywood stars hiding from the paparazzi. The BFI player features several of A.H. Martin’s personal films which capture the lost gems of public transport in Northern Ireland. You can see the Great Northern Railway Terminus before it was demolished in 1969 to build the Europa Hotel in his film ‘Full Steam Ahead to Dublin’.