While it may not be considered a go-to luxury destination like Monaco or the Maldives, over the past decade Dublin has been steadily carving out a reputation for quality restaurants, boutique hotels and sleek bars. It’s not hard to see why: with its world-class pubs and theatres and elegant Georgian architecture, Dublin will please even the most discerning traveller. A famously compact city, the best way to discover the Irish capital is simply by walking – but once you’ve done that, where are the best places to stay, eat and drink?
Here’s your essential luxury guide to Dublin.
The Garden Room
The newly opened restaurant, The Garden Room, looks set to become another stellar addition to the Irish fine dining scene. Though the decor is smart and the enormous windows look out onto formal gardens complete with fountains, statues and landscaped greenery, the restaurant itself is decidedly less formal, with a light and relaxed atmosphere.
Chef Ed Cooney has created a mouthwatering menu that brings together whimsical combinations of flavours and seasonal, fresh produce: signature dishes include grilled black sole with creamed garlic spinach and lemon beurre noisette; wild halibut fillet with Dublin Bay prawns, broad beans, barley and kale; Irish chicken breast with French onion soup and a gruyère pate croûte; and homemade pappardelle with rabbit confit, pistachio and black olive jus.
Vegetarians won’t go hungry, either: meat-free dishes include smoked cauliflower and truffle with Glenilen creme fraiche, delicious salads with avocado, duck egg, baby spinach, aduki beans, spring onion, red chilli and wild rocket, and a startlingly good gnocchi dish with mushrooms and a poached egg. Try to leave room for one of the beautiful desserts: best of all is the heavenly chocolate tart with a scoop of homemade ice cream.
No. 23 Cocktail Bar
For an intimate and glamorous aperitif (or nightcap), head to the secluded No. 23 cocktail bar. The bar is comprised of a series of luxurious lounges and opulent armchairs perched in front of crackling fires: if it sounds old-school, it is – but in a good way, and the charming staff keep the ambiance light and fun.
Settle into a chair and sip on a flute of top-quality champagne (the bar serves Krug by the glass), or wine from L’Abeille de Fieuzal, one of Bordeaux’s best vineyards. If you’re peckish, there’s a delicious selection of canapés, and whiskey connoisseurs will enjoy the whiskey tasting selection. Make sure to try one of the signature cocktails, too – there’s over 30, all of which come with their own history and backstory.
The Cellar Bar
Get a taste of history by heading down into the Cellar Bar, which is housed in original 18th century Georgian wine vaults. Bare brick walls, vaulted ceilings and an oak-lined ambiance create a cosy atmosphere, and a warm welcome awaits as soon as you enter. A popular bar with locals, the Cellar Bar also has an all-day gastro-pub menu, so it’s a great spot for a bite to eat as well as pint.
If you’re looking for unadulterated luxury, there’s only one choice. Located in the heart of Dublin’s centre, The Merrion Hotel is the city’s most stylish five star offering, and Merrion Square, the National Gallery and Museum, and the Grafton Street shopping district are all within a stone’s throw. Housed in four restored Georgian townhouses, this 142-bedroom hotel is the perfect union of historic pomp and contemporary comfort.
The spacious, light-filled period rooms are magnificent; wandering through the drawing rooms is like stepping back two hundred years. The bedrooms and suites are all large, light and traditionally tasteful, with the decor echoing the building’s history and modern comfort like flat-screen TVs balancing things out. The gleaming marble bathrooms are spotless, and come with complimentary Asprey toiletries.
Art lovers will be in their element at The Merrion: hung upon the walls of the ground floor is Ireland’s largest private art collection, and you can even take an audio tour covering the history and background of all the paintings. The 18 metre swimming pool is another chic affair: bordered by columns and reflecting the bright blue mosaic flooring, the style is refined and classical. If you’re not relaxed enough after your swim, you can always head into the Tethra Spa to enjoy a range of spa treatments.