A few years ago you couldn’t get a bed in this town for love or money without a six-month advance reservation and shedding a hefty wad of cash. How times have changed. Take one recession, add a sprinkling of time and … presto!—hoteliers are throwing in spa treatments, three-course dinners and free nights. Rates across the board, from the best Dublin hotels to small B&Bs, have plummeted in Dublin over the past few years so expect bargains, open arms, and a few bonuses.
This rocking Dublin hotel is owned by Bono and The Edge, but you won’t find paparazzi-shrouded entrances, lines of limos or glimpses of the small dude with wraparound shades. What you will find, however, is a small unassuming 1930s building, its terrazzo floors and wood-panelled walls given a simple modern makeover and a quietly efficient staff that make it one of the top Dublin places to stay. The discreet atmosphere is more royal boating club than party pad and its 49 rooms are furnished with surprising simplicity—muted colors, crisp cotton linen and wax candles. For a proper taste of rock star decadence, you could splurge on the duplex penthouse where a midnight cocktail from the rooftop hot tub overlooking the city makes it worth every cent.
The Morrison is the pearl of the northside and, with the addition of 48 bedrooms from the adjacent former print works, one of Ireland’s hippest boltholes and one of the best places to stay in Dublin. Hong Kong/Ireland fashion designer John Rocha’s Oriental fusion decor employs low sofas and coffee tables piled with massive art books. Contemporary silk wall hangings and stone Buddha’s add to the serene Zen-like atmosphere of these spaces but such bedroom extras as iPod docking stations, Apple Mac plasma screens, and Aveda goodies close the sale. It’s worth asking for a studio den in the new wing where rooms are bigger and some have balconies with enough space to throw a party.
The former home and 1960s party pad of architect Sam Stephenson (once host to Henry Kissinger and Ted Kennedy) began life as a coach house attached to a Georgian townhouse where Brendan Behan once kept a flat. After its conversion in 1958, its inviting open-plan living room with ceiling-to-floor windows, sunken lounge, kilim rugs and mirror-tiled cocktail bar soon became a magnet for Dublin’s glitterati. Little has changed. Since it became a guesthouse in 1997, its visitors’ book lists a Who’s Who to international arts. Nowadays, Number 31’s 21 rooms are divided between the original Coach House and more classically designed main house. It still feels like an urbane 1960s home, thanks to the affable charms of owner (and uncanny Peter Sellers lookalike), Noel Comer and his wife Deirdre. The highs at this top Dublin hotel are many: its cool historic interior with open peat fire and well-thumbed art books overlooking the garden; the attentive service and breakfasts of homemade bread, potato cakes with smoked salmon and strawberry and rhubarb compote. We love womb-like Room 14—it has no window other than a skylight.
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The grande dame of top Dublin places to stay, this much-loved institution on St Stephen’s Green opened in 1824 and still retains its old world grandeur. Although it is now a Marriott, changes are few other than the addition of a leisure center and swimming pool. The reproduction 19th century design remains tasteful while rooms benefit from generous dimensions and contain all the mod cons you’d expect. The Shelbourne’s proximity to government buildings means the atmospheric Horseshoe Bar continues to be a magnet for Dublin’s politicos and hacks and is the perfect place to eavesdrop on a bit of political gossip. It’s no wonder the Irish Constitution was first drafted here in 1922. Afternoon tea in the Lord Mayor’s Lounge with its piano and magnificent bay windows overlooking the Green is an enduring social tradition with well-heeled visitors up from the country and remains an experience to be savored.
You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d walked onto the set of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ on entering this former nursing home-turned-boutique hotel in the leafy suburb of Ballsbridge. Huge gilt mirrors hang on colorful stripy walls and odd-shaped oversized deep purple or burnt orange velvet chairs are scattered about the reception areas. It’s eclectic, it’s brash but somehow it works. The 44 bedrooms of this top Dublin hotel are tamer in style and use a more subtle color palette, though each is individually furnished with the occasional witty touch. All have top touches such as memory foam mattresses, plasma TV screens, Italian marble bathrooms and WiFi throughout. The outdoor garden terrace is a peaceful place for a pre-dinner drink, as is the library in winter.
You’d pay top dollar for this address on a Dublin Monopoly board—it doesn’t get much hotter than the corner of Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street. This minimalist Terence Conrad-designed place has been a top place to stay in Dublin and a perennial favorite with visiting pop stars and minor celebrities for its superb location, luxurious rooms and discreet service. Try for a corner room on the fifth floor (502 or 508) with big balcony overlooking the Green. Or live large in the 2,000-square-foot penthouse with personal trainer/shopper/chef thrown in.
There’s something about the Westbury’s clientele that’s hard to put a finger on. A stone’s throw from Grafton Street, its central location makes it a good meeting place and while the open plan first floor lounge can be an oasis of calm on one day, it may buzz with business folk the next. As a top Dublin hotel it can be as popular with diminutive Irish grannies as it is with Hollywood directors. Newly refurbished, rooms are luxuriously comfortable with Frette bed linen, top-tier entertainment systems. Nespresso coffee machines and Acqua di Parma bathroom goodies are a standard.
This quaint redbrick Victorian building began life as a parish school in 1861 and was populated mainly by children from the nearby barracks at Beggar’s Bush. Though closed in the 1960s it was eventually converted into an atmospheric and fun Dublin hotel three decades later and furthers community life with its lively bar and restaurant and 31 deluxe rooms. Each room is named for a famous Irish writer. The furnishings here tend to be busy, but rooms have buckets of comfort. All feature king beds, LCD TVs with complimentary movies, and WiFi.
If you’re in town for more than a few days it’s worth making the trip about three miles out to one of Dublin’s best place’s to stay for atmosphere and value. Treat yourself to a stay in the decadent luxury of this 18th century mansion that was once the home of a British viscount. Built of Portland stone the imposing building is surrounded by formal gardens. The impressive reception areas with their massive columned ceilings, ornate plasterwork and marble floors, prove to be much more opulent than the 151 guestrooms, including 25 suites. What bedrooms may lack in décor they make up for in comfort. All have mini-bars, movie channels, WiFi and king size beds.
This is a converted Victorian townhouse favored by visiting DJs and hipsters for its tongue-in-cheek, minimalist design, its fun cocktail bar and smile-inducing prices. You’d swing a cat in its doubles (all of them come with custom-made beds, TV/DVD and WiFi), but not a tiger. So if space is high on your list, opt for an executive room or the loft suite with two bedrooms and massive walk-in power shower. If you’re looking for action, this is the best place to stay in Dublin—the corner of Georges’ and Fade Streets is usually thronged with youth and celebrants on weekend nights.
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With its black leather banquettes, mirrors galore, oversized chandeliers, leopard print and faux Louis XIV gilt mirror frames you may need to don your shades before you settle into a mojito at the Morgan’s cocktail bar. This is the best Dublin hotel if you are looking for a party place in the middle of Party Central: Temple Bar. So if you bring your aging granny, be warned. Easy-on-the-eye rooms, however, feature ornate silver bed frames and white furnishings and flowing curtains. The pièce de resistance, we reckon, is the beautiful white two-bedroom penthouse suite that comes complete with white baby grand piano, Philippe Starck-designed furniture and a rooftop garden sporting its own retro leather-embossed airstream caravan for chilling.
Midway between town and the canal on the southside is this modern and hip Dublin hotel, popular with bands playing the nearby Tripod venue. While the rather conventional interior is nothing to write home about, service is great and rooms are spacious, comfy, and all have WiFi and big bathrooms. There’s a LUAS (tram) stop right around the corner that makes the one-mile trip into St Stephen’s Green. The best kept secret in town, though, is its lovely swimming pool here, and the sauna that never seems to get crowded. A good option if you want to avoid the madding crowds.
You might find this top Dublin budget hotel to be an excellent alternative to city centre accommodations. It’s big, bright and airy place right on the edge of gorgeous Herbert Park in the leafy suburb of Ballsbridge, about two miles from St Stephen’s Green. A glass modernist foyer opens onto two vibrant bars, an open-plan cafe and a restaurant. Upstairs are 153 spacious and comfortable rooms with classic pale furnishings, king size beds and PlayStation amenities. Executive rooms come with bathrobes, Jacuzzi tubs and daily newspapers. Top choice here is the fabulous (and surprisingly pocket-friendly) suite, designed with a nod to the art deco era and featuring a Bang & Olufsen surround sound music system, a huge marble bathroom and big balconies overlooking Dublin’s most chi-chi park.
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