Drinking in Dublin’s history
Discover a city of cobbled streets, architectural elegance, classic pubs and the most easy-going of locals on a weekend break in the Irish capital, staying in the beautiful Merrion Hotel.
For such a small city, Dublin has a huge heart, and an unbeatable reputation when it comes to culture and hospitality. And though it’s not famed for its climate, it’s said that winter-time in the Irish capital can be charmingly atmospheric. Fancying a weekend of history and hedonism, my companion and I head for a short break in the beating heart of the Emerald Isle. Inhabiting a row of Georgian townhouses across the road from Ireland’s Government Buildings is the 5* Merrion Hotel. Close to St. Stephen’s Green and Trinity College, and just a short walk from Grafton Street and Temple Bar, with almost the whole city easily accessible by foot, it seems the perfect base from which to explore. Our taxi driver from the airport agrees, and furnishes us with the information that: “Obama stayed there.” Once checked in, we enjoy imagining him and Michelle kicking back on the sofa in our Junior Suite. Graciously proportioned (read: vast) and beautifully appointed, the suite is certainly grand enough to host visiting dignitaries.
The perfect weekend retreat
Wanting to throw off the stresses of the working week, we head first to the Romanesque Tethra Spa, where we enjoy a beautifully relaxing swim and a session in the steam room. The hotel is home to Ireland’s only two-Michelin starred eatery, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, but we are after a slightly more informal dinner vibe (read: forgot to book in advance), so head instead to the hotel’s Cellar Restaurant. We are not disappointed; the service is exquisite (as to be expected in a hotel of this quality) and the food is divine. Special mention goes the melt-in-the-mouth lamb pithivier and the biggest rib-eye steak known to man (or certainly my man). We are replete.
Next morning we re-discover our appetites just in time to enjoy The Merrion’s full Irish breakfast, then head out for a spot of history. A short bus hop finds us at Glasnevin Cemetery, opened in 1832. Rather a depressing mini-break activity? Au contraire: the sun is shining and we enjoy a 90-minute tour of the Gothic gravestones and memorials, giving us a fascinating insight into Irish history and some of the political characters who left their mark on the city. Of course, no trip to Dublin is complete without some stout, so we round off the trip with a pint of Guinness in John Kavanagh (known as “The Gravediggers pub”), next door to the cemetery. Parts of the pub date from the 18th century, and the landlord regales us with stories of wakes so “emotional” that coffins were accidentally left outside the pub for days!
Later, after exploring the city’s famous bar scene – with over 1,000 pubs in Dublin we’re spoilt for choice – and meeting more fabulously friendly locals, we’re feeling quite emotional ourselves. Back at the hotel we fall gratefully into bed, enjoying the luxury of 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton bed linen. Bliss.
Rooms from €310 per night, junior suites from €1,015 per night, based on two sharing with a full Irish breakfast (+353 1 603 0600; merrionhotel.com)