Dublin’s hotel buzz has ramped up recently and shows no signs of slowing, with a raft of new arrivals. Some of the city’s enduring favourites have been renewed and reimagined for a whole new audience and homegrown and international brands are crowding into the capital, opening in some of its most desirable addresses and underappreciated neighbourhoods on the up. You can slip between the sheets in some of the city’s most opulent Georgian mansions or discover a more urban take on the city in other happening hotspots. Here we round up the best hotels in Dublin right now.
If the Westbury were a person, it would be that friend you call up as soon as you hit town. An enduring spot on the city’s scene and the flagship of the Irish, family-run Doyle Collection, this is somewhere that prides itself on its sense of place. It’s all about location, location, location – tucked away just off the shopping mecca of Grafton Street and perfectly placed to tap into the scene. Guest rooms are gradually being spruced up and burnished with a lighter, brighter touch, there are killer cocktails and a local crowd at the glamorous Sidecar bar and staff work hard to help guests unlock hidden sides of the city.
THE MERRION HOTEL
The hole-up of choice for visiting A-listers, spanning four magnificent listed Georgian townhouses dating from the 1760s and across the street from the Irish Parliament, The Merrion is arguably Dublin’s grandest place to bed down. It’s all elegant proportions, sensational stucco work and cracking fires, and even the art rivals what is hanging on the walls of the National Gallery of Ireland at the end of the block, with one of the country’s finest private collections on show. Guest rooms follow the grown-up theme, echoing their stately surroundings and spread across the Main House and the Garden Wing with its views of the hotel’s secluded courtyard space. There’s also the Michelin two-star Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, a spa with mosaic-tiled and pillared pool and a refreshingly family-friendly approach.
Not every hotel can claim a pivotal role in a country’s history, but in 1922 the Constitution of the Irish Free State was drafted in room 112 on the first floor of The Shelbourne Hotel. Since it first opened in 1824, Dublin’s social scene has played out within its walls and The Shelbourne has seen it all – Peter O’Toole reputedly took a Champagne bath here, while poets, playwrights and politicians have all dropped into its diminutive Horseshoe Bar. Then there is its enviable perch overlooking the verdant tones of St Stephen’s Green. A reboot has added the new 1824 Bar, while rooms are tastefully traditional but with all the comforts you would expect – British designer Guy Oliver was tasked with updating the hotel’s main Heritage Wing.
A large fragment of graffitied wall in the reception sets the tone for The Hendrick. The chunk, signed by the band members of U2, was part of the original Windmill Lane Recording Studios, whose walls became a pilgrimage site for fans the world over to scribble their appreciation. The theme continues across the hotel’s public spaces and guestrooms with a 270-piece-strong collection of urban art, a mixture of graffiti and street art from both Irish and international artists, such as American star Kaws. The hotel is set in Dublin’s gritty but gentrifying Smithfield area, and there’s a youthful feel, with utilitarian rooms that are compact but comfortable, with a choice of doubles and bunks sleeping three. Guests are encouraged to linger over coffee or cocktails in the buzzy ground-floor bar and then head out to unlock the area’s thriving scene.
There is a lot going on under The Mayson’s multiple roofs. Sitting on the north bank of the river in one of the capital’s rapidly regenerating neighbourhoods, this former docker’s pub and adjacent redbrick 19th-century timber warehouse have been given a radical makeover. Rooms have a stylish retro feel with brass, exposed-brick walls, wood and vibrant colours and run the range from small to spacious, with excellent showers and on-trend amenities such as Dyson hair dryers, mini Smeg fridges, Marshall speakers, Nespresso machines and Netflix-enabled TVs. From Ryleigh’s, the top-floor steakhouse, there are spectacular views of the River Liffey, Dublin Bay and the Poolbeg Pier. Then there is the Bottle Boy Pub, a traditional-style Dublin boozer; the old-school Green Dolphin Barbers; and the basement Power Gym with relaxation pool, steam room and sauna.
TRINITY TOWNHOUSE HOTEL
Spread across three townhouses dating from the 1730s, in two adjacent buildings with another across the street, this is part of Irish-born Singaporean hotelier Loh Lik Peng’s Unlisted Collection. The rooms channel a gently modern style, paying homage to their Georgian setting in restful tones of dove-grey, mauve, gold and forest green, with all the necessary frills but no froth. The hotel’s Allta wine bar is currently one of the capital’s hottest tables, where talented chef Niall Davidson mans the stoves, serving up sharing plates of sustainable Irish ingredients – but you’ll need to book in advance for lunch or dinner. Trinity College is one of the nearest neighbours and guests have use of the university’s impressive sports centre a short stroll across the campus’s leafy grounds
Appearances can be deceptive. While you might enter number 31 from an unassuming door tucked down a small laneway, this is a hotel with a split personality – part grand Georgian townhouse, part modernist mews. A recent makeover means the bedrooms in the townhouse now channel an opulent Jazz Age theme, but even so, the star of the show is still the Seventies-style mews house, with its disco ball-mirrored honesty bar, sunken seating area, whitewashed, rough stone walls and seven rooms with a more modern bent. Try and snag number 14, the building’s previous architect-owner Sam Stephenson’s onetime bedroom. Breakfast, eaten at communal tables in the mews, is one of the best you’ll find.
THE WILDER TOWNHOUSE
When it was first built in the 1870s, this handsome Victorian redbrick served as a home for retired governesses, but in its modern-day mode, guests are more of a mix of weekending couples and visitors from overseas. It’s set back from one of central Dublin’s prettiest, tucked-away residential streets, with the Grand Canal at one end, and there is little to disturb the peace, since it’s also residents only. The comfortably kitted-out rooms with their oak parquet floors, jewelled tones and velvet throws are dotted throughout the three floors, the welcoming touches more house than hotel. There’s no restaurant, but the charming House of Hackney-wallpapered Gin & Tea Rooms serves up breakfast, cocktails and snacks to keep the munchies at bay.
Travel east along the River Liffey and a different side to the capital presents itself. Many of the hotels in Dublin play on their historic heritage, but not so The Marker. Set to rebrand as Anantara Hotels’ first urban hotel in Europe, this serves up a more modern view of Dublin with its splashy, chequerboard-glass exterior in the heart of the self-styled Silicon Docks with tech giants such as Google and Facebook and the striking, Daniel Libeskind-designed Bord Gáis Energy Theatre for neighbours. Light floods into the rooms with their floor-to-ceiling views of the water and on clear days you can see the heather-flecked Dublin Mountains from the rooftop terrace.
Not strictly a hotel, but architecture or history buffs should not miss the chance to check in to Henrietta Suites. Although these days it might not be the fashionable part of town, in its 18th-century heyday this was Dublin’s most stately residential street. The fashionable decamped south of the River Liffey and by the 1970s Number 3 had become a run-down, overcrowded tenement. Now you can have it almost to yourself, as it was rescued from ruin to preserve this precious piece of Dublin’s architectural story. There are just eight suites oozing aristocratic appeal, although it has to be said the traditional-style decor does not exactly wow. But you are here for the Georgian grandeur and that does not disappoint – you can lie in the four-poster bed of the King Suite and marvel at the ravishing, Rococo stucco-work ceiling far above your head.
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