4 Regent St,
BT23 4LH

This long-established and popular haunt of Ards folk down the years is now a veritable warren of bars since its recent overhaul and development. The result is five bars in total, each attractive and distinctive in its own right, and all combining to produce a pleasing unity of structure and design.

The pub has been in the Hamill family for about 30 years, and was once known as Roma Hamill’s, but everyone referred to it simply as Roma’s, so that’s now its new name. Roma, incidentally, is the daughter Of Mickey Hamill, the legendary football star of Manchester City and Belfast Celtic back in the twenties.

The premises were originally a fine townhouse, with its own stables and yard, before becoming a public house run by a family called McAlea, who lived on the job, so to speak. The Hamills also lived here for about 15 years, but now all the upstairs living accommodation, the house next door, the gateway, coal shed stores and back yard have all been utilised and incorporated into the Roma’s of today.

Downstairs are the public bar, known as the Kitchen Bar, the Fox and Hounds lounge bar, and the Stables Lounge Bar right at the back. The public bar was the old gateway and coal stores, and features a fine colour picture, done by a local graphic artist, of the pub before its refurbishment. Here too are still to be seen the Fox and the Hounds Lounge. You’ll find the hunt scenes you’d expect on the mirrors and large pictures around the walls, but there’s something more “useful” for the customer – the inebriated one – also on the wall. It’s a Drinker’s Fault-finding Guide, enumerating a variety of symptoms, faults and remedies. Here’s an example: Symtom- Feet cold and wet, Fault – Glass being held at incorrect angle Remedy – Invert glass so that open end points towards ceiling.

The restful old-gold buttoned velvet seating and smart little bar make this one of the most frequented pubs in town. Move on through the arched entrance to the Stables Lounge, and the scene alters subtly, to one of stall-type snugs of tongue and groove timber, topped by iron railings, with corner hay racks and interesting wall displays, including pictures of old Newtownards and framed collections of Player Cigarette cards.

Upstairs, the sophisticated Hamill restaurant bar has already earned for itself a reputation for first class cuisine. This used to be the family living quarters, complete with two Victorian baths, but now it is the last word in elegance. If you’re going to eat first-class food, why not do so in first-class surroundings? That’s the Hamill’s thinking and practice.

Finally, we come to the cocktail bar, a cutesy little upstairs place at the back of the house. A most unusual item on one of the cross beams is a mirror clock inside a horse collar. Reflected in it is a stuffed otter, and odds and ends of horse harness. Under one roof, Roma’s of Newtownards offers a spectrum of styles, effects, and services, making it the best-known public house in this busy North Down town.