Recently, I made my first ever visit to Ireland (excepting a Shannon refueling stop). I started with a few days in Dublin, and so we start this week looking at the capital’s best hotels and top suites, including where I stayed and highly recommend, The Shelbourne. However, there are a number of excellent choices, so read on!
1. The Merrion
Travel + Leisure’s top-rated hotel in Dublin, it writes, “The four row houses that make up the Merrion date back to the 1760s, and the antiques-filled rooms and impeccable service are equally classic. Though the National Gallery and Douglas Hyde Gallery at Trinity College are nearby, it’s worth devoting time to the hotel’s private collection of 19th- and 20th-century art, which also inspires the hotel’s signature afternoon tea.”
Forbes Travel Guide inspectors add, “While it may look like your living quarters came straight out of the 18th century, the amenities are all modern. When not lounging in the comfort of your suite, take advantage of the downstairs gym, spa and pool. The latter looks like a bath you might have encountered in ancient Rome, and the cheery murals along the wall make up for the pool’s secluded underground location. The property’s two lavish gardens were designed by notable Irish landscape artist Jim Reynolds. Each space re-creates the feel of an 18th-century garden and features box hedges, water fountains and whispery pathways with sculptures tucked in between.
The two-bedroom, 2,200-sq.ft. Merrion Penthouse has played host to heads of state, visiting dignitaries, celebrities, and other guests for whom independence and privacy are vital.
The interior of the two-story apartment, which can accommodate up to five guests, is elegant, yet comfortable and conducive to relaxation. On the ground floor, both bedrooms are en-suite with separate baths and showers. The bedrooms are decorated with Georgian-inspired fabrics, in keeping with the heritage of the original 18th-century townhouses at the heart of Dublin’s finest luxury hotel.
Upstairs, the carpeted living and dining areas are decorated with exquisite furniture and fabrics. The separate marble-floored kitchen is fully equipped for the convenience of those who like to cook for themselves. Guests can relax in the Penthouse Suite’s own Music Room, and on the private wraparound roof landscaped terrace which overlooks the hotel’s classical 18th-century gardens.
More suites at The Merrion.
2. The Shelbourne, an Autograph Collection
The Telegraph says, “The signature red-brick Victorian façade of The Shelbourne Dublin has glowed on the northern side of St Stephen’s Green since 1824. Think five-star elegance: the main bar is a popular fixture on the city’s social scene, while afternoon tea in the Lord Mayor’s Lounge is something of a Dublin tradition.”
Forbes Travel Guide adds, “When it comes to distinguishing features, The Shelbourne Dublin, Autograph Collection has them in spades. One of the city’s most elegant and historic properties is steeped in tradition, culture and prominence, from the original 19th-century facade, gleaming marble, sparkling chandeliers, decorative stained glass and artwork to its 265 rooms, many of which overlook St Stephen’s Green Park.”
Princess Grace Suite
The 1,528-sq.ft. Princess Grace Suite offers high-ceilings, two bedrooms with separate living and dining areas.
More suites at The Shelbourne.
3. The Westbury
Conde Nast Traveler writes, “The Westbury has been a Dublin landmark since it opened its doors in 1984. A member of the Doyle Collection (which also includes London’s The Kensington, The Marylebone and The Bloomsbury), you can’t get a much better location. Shopping hotspot Grafton Street and the vibrant cultural and social hub of the city center are mere steps away; Trinity College is just a five-minute walk. The Terrace Suites, with their soaring views, Italian marble bathrooms, and mirrored cocktail bar are always in high demand. Cocktails in The Sidecar are a must with the liveried bartenders always on top of their game, while supper in Wilde is the place to be seen.”
Forbes Travel Guide says, “The extensive art in the mezzanine is one of Ireland’s finest privately owned collections. Take a gander and keep your eyes peeled for its soon-to-be-launched art trail. There’s a healthy breakfast served in collaboration with BodyByrne, one of Dublin’s go-to gyms, that provides a refreshing alternative to the usual full Irish spread. The dining offering is the best in the city under one roof. You needn’t leave the luxury hotel — every mood and taste is catered for here between the two restaurants, gallery and bar.
The private meeting rooms have natural light and large windows — a detail that makes a big difference to corporate clients.
The 1,507-sq.ft. Presidential Suite is in a secluded wing of the hotel providing extra privacy. Spaciousness and understated define the ultra-chic bar, dining area and lounge, while the marble-clad bathroom includes steam room, and sauna. Your private butler can take care of the rest.
More suites at The Westbury.
4. The Marker Hotel
Conde Nast Traveler writes, “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.”
Forbes Travel Guide adds, “In a city rife with landmarks and a history that stretches back centuries, it’s refreshing to discover the modern side of Dublin. The whole area boasts a contemporary-chic vibe complete with one-of-a-kind art installations, the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and technology businesses peeking around every corner. Despite the setting, The Marker’s actual building speaks more to Ireland’s natural surroundings. For example, the checkerboard facade is an ode to the hexagonal stones of the Giant’s Causeway. The name pays homage to the country, and comes from the historical marker in the Grand Canal that dictated the end of the trade route. In this way, the Marker showcases both a love for the island while tipping a hat to its future.”
The 1,950-sq.ft. Presidential Suite boasts unobstructed views of Grand Canal Square and the iconic architectural landmarks – both old and new – that make up the unique fabric of Dublin. There are two ensuite bedrooms opening onto a breakfast room and separate living room.
More suites at The Marker Hotel.
5. InterContinental Dublin
The Telegraph says, “The InterContinental Dublin is luxurious, Irish-owned and beautifully comfortable. Come here for impeccable five-star service in spacious surroundings. It’s a great choice for weekending couples in need of a little pampering; and families seeking intimacy and comfort. This is an excellent location (although it) isn’t central and it doesn’t want to be. Instead, it makes a virtue of its tranquil location in south Dublin’s prosperous embassy belt. Parks, bars, restaurants, the Royal Dublin Showgrounds, and the Aviva Stadium are within easy strolling distance; and downtown Dublin is a 10-minute taxi ride away.
Conde Nast Traveler adds, “Public spaces are airy and bright, but the Lobby Lounge adjoining the entrance has cozy leather booths for more intimate dining. Two acres of gardens make this place feel somewhat pastoral while still being close enough to the hum of the city. The decadent spa has a 14-metre swimming pool, hot tub, and relaxation room plus a courtyard garden. In the summer months, don’t miss dining on The Terrace, while in winter we heartily recommend exploring the 100 whiskeys – 69 of which are Irish – at the Whiskey Bar. The bar even has a Whiskey Sommelier who offers guided tastings.”
James Joyce Penthouse Suites
The 2,691-sq.ft. James Joyce Suite can be booked as one-bedroom or up to three connecting rooms making it the biggest in the city.
More suites at InterContinental Dublin.
6. Conrad Dublin
Ranked as the city’s second-best hotel by U.S. News, it notes, “Hilton fans will be pleased to find a Conrad property right in the heart of Dublin. The hotel’s accommodations, with options for twin beds or king-sized beds, are complete with blackout curtains, workspaces, flat-screen TVs, 300-thread-count sheets and 24-hour housekeeping services. Downstairs, guests can sip afternoon tea at Lemuel’s Tea Time, or taste one of the craft beers, and whiskeys at Alfie Byrne’s by Galway Bay Brewery. The hotel’s location is one of its top redeeming qualities: The building overlooks the National Concert Hall and is surrounded by many natural spaces, including St. Stephen’s Green. After a quick walk through the park, guests should explore bustling Grafton Street, and its endless shops and pubs.
The 1,679-sq.ft, Presidential Suite features top-floor, panoramic city views from the living room and dining area with baby grand piano. The suite also features two toilets, a large bathroom with walk-in rain shower, a kitchenette, and Baby Grand Piano.
More suites at Conrad Dublin.
7. The FitzWilliam Hotel
Forbes Travel Guide writes, “From the eggplant top hats and tails of the doormen to the Tomas Clement diptych portraits in the lobby, arriving at The Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin is every bit the modern-day castle experience it was designed to be. The hotel is stylish and sophisticated at every turn, with charming, impeccably turned-out staff, offering all of the bravado of a boutique hotel without any of the buzzy background noise. There’s a sense of serenity found here that is a rare find in the city, probably thanks to the hotel’s no-tour-groups policy and the balance of business and leisure guests. The Citron restaurant offers a casual forkful, while Inn on the Green on the ground-floor serves hearty bar food and an exceptional afternoon tea. In addition to the fully equipped fitness suite, the Spirit Beauty Salon offers therapies from massages, and facials to beauty treatments.”
The 2,000-sq.ft. Penthouse features deep shag pile rugs are laid over rich fired acacia wood on the floor and you will notice the sculptured ceiling. Furniture is from Italy, there is a hideaway giant TV, a hidden second bed in the study, and an elliptical limestone tub in the main bathroom.
More suites at The FitzWilliam.