The five star Merrion Hotel on Dublin’s famed Upper Merrion Street is perfectly situated for art and culture lovers or those looking for a more insightful city break, being just a stone’s throw from Oscar Wilde’s former residence and the three Oscar Wilde memorial statues in Merrion Square by Danny Osborne which attract nigh-on constant attention from visitors. The fact that the National Museum of Ireland and National Gallery of Ireland are just across the street from The Merrion means that you have almost everything you need on your doorstep – ideal if you’re short of time.
Incorporating four immaculately restored Grade I Georgian town-houses, the hotel is a celebration of world class service coupled with the city’s most splendid architecture, although for some that’s a painful reminder of English rule – something it’s best not to talk about, particularly if you hail from England. The symmetrical sash windows are a familiar period feature, as is the grand staircase leading to suites above, while the elegant lobby draws you into a series of traditionally furnished drawing rooms where afternoon tea is a popular pastime seven days a week. To the far left of the entrance the clubby Irish green Bar 23, with its wide selection of whiskeys, characterful portraits, cosy open fire, and casual day menu is a regular spot with well heeled locals.
Don’t get the impression that The Merrion, established in 1997, is unduly obsessed with the past, however, for despite the many original details throughout the property, including an enviable art collection with treasures from the 19th and 20th century, and the sumptuously classical rooms and suites, there is an almost Parisian air of modernity about the hotel’s more recent additions, including a glass walk way connecting the main property to the garden wing which houses the Tethra Spa (soon to undergo a full refurbishment) and the newly opened all-day Garden Room Restaurant with its views over the terrace, incorporating two period gardens designed by Jim Reynolds.
It’s a marvellously tranquil city outpost regardless of the season, yet one that will inevitably be in high demand come the warmer weather when the restaurant’s glass doors will be retracted to offer a ring-side seat on this glorious, unexpected Dublin oasis. Serving food all day, The Garden Room is a striking breakfast space, while by night it’s already one of the hottest new eateries in the city. The classic, utterly appealing menu sings with Ireland’s legendary produce; Burren Smokehouse smoked salmon or Castletownbere king scallops to Kilmore Quay lemon sole and Kilkenny veal, not to mention various cuts of 28-day dry aged, grass fed Irish beef.
Executive chef Ed Cooney doesn’t only write a good menu, he delivers flawless dishes we all know and love, not least a towering raspberry soufflé with a refreshing lime sorbet. The service is Irish charm at its best, for example, when our waiter delivered an immaculate chocolate fondant instead of the salted caramel tart with popcorn ice cream and dark chocolate crumble my husband had ordered, they brought him the tart as an extra course. He wasn’t complaining and nor was his tailor, but his fitness coach just might be.
It’s no good trying to cut down on calories or units on a trip to Dublin, least of all when you’re staying at The Merrion. Their other food and drink options are on opposite ends of the spectrum but no less fun; The Cellar Bar being an atmospheric space at lunch time or early evening onwards, with a street entrance that is clearly familiar to highfalutin Dubliners, while there is an internal entrance to the renowned two Michelin star Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, a dining experience that gives the hotel a unique offering due to it being the only establishment in Ireland to have been awarded such a high ranking. Don’t do what we did and check in only to discover that you can’t get a reservation, (just like afternoon tea). To quote a well known phrase ‘book to avoid disappointment’. Déan deifir!
Stays at The Merrion, Dublin from €310 per room per night based on two sharing including a full Irish breakfast. Stays in a Junior Suite at The Merrion start at €1015 per night, based on double occupancy. For more information please visit www.merrionhotel.com or telephone +353 1 603 0600.
New for summer 2018, The Garden Room at The Merrion is inviting guests to indulge in an Irish summer tradition within the leafy haven of its private garden terrace. Served daily from 3 to 6pm, guests can sip on ice-cold house lemonade whilst tucking into The Garden Room Picnic. The Garden Room Picnic will be served from June to September, served 3-6pm every day either in The Garden Room or out on the Terrace. Priced at €29.50 per person.