In need of a city break with that extra touch of luxe and pampering too? Book yourself in at Dublin’s most charming hotel, The Merrion.
The hotel: it’s got elegance and sophistication oozing from every perfectly restored rococo ceiling to original marble fireplace. And while the Georgian architecture and fittings certainly impress, it’s the wit and warmth of the staff and the cosy atmosphere (ah, those open fires, those inviting sofas) that had us falling for the place. Little surprise SJP is a fan.
Comprising four grade I-listed houses (the Duke of Wellington was born in one of them), this five-star hotel with manicured gardens stands serene, opposite Ireland’s government buildings – a mere ten minutes’ stroll from the “golden mile” of shops and St Stephen’s Green, where the fair city’s social elite party.
Must-do: the Merrion’s highly civilised Afternoon Art Tea (from 36 euros), held in the hotel’s sumptuous drawing rooms: the cakes are adorable! Each sweet creation is based on a painting from the Merrion’s amazing collection of 19th and 20th century Irish art, displayed throughout the hotel.
Spa: chill and reinvigorate at the hotel’s Tethra Spa (gym, steam rooms and an 18-metre infinity pool). There’s an extensive menu, including waxing and tanning to full-day packages, plus gorgeous Espa facials and treatments. The Luxury Foot and Nail treatment (75 mins, 90 euros) was perfect after a hard day’s shop!
Unwind: relax and chat over a pint of the black stuff in the hotel’s 18th-century Cellar Bar (complete with original vaulted ceilings). Making conversation over a drink is practically an art form in Dublin. Great atmosphere, quality live acts and popular with locals. Sláinte!
Dining: book the two-Michelin-star Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud; the food is sublime and the wine list is an oenologist’s dream. (We can recommend the Fillet of Irish Beef and Roast Foie Gras, Madeira and Truffle Jus, washed down with Givry Premier Cru). Autumn's tasting menu costs 85 euros a head including VAT. For a more low-key, family vibe, head to the hotel’s Cellar Restaurant. (The very cute and laid-back) head chef Ed Cooney and his team have created a simple, uncomplicated menu, using only the best-quality Irish ingredients. Their delicious range of Pantry homemade jams, chutneys and cakes make great presents to take home!
Kid friendly: younger guests should check out the Miss and Master Merrion programme, including a tailored room service and crockery, mocktails, mini bathrobes, colouring books, games and snacks.
For more information, call Tourism Ireland (0800 039 7000) or visit discoverireland.com
By Louise Sugrue