A smiling concierge offers a typical Irish salutation amid a grand row of preserved Georgian traditional terraced houses. Entering Dublin’s most opulent five-star hotel I was immediately welcomed into a spacious lobby. The atmospheric smell of a roaring peat fire confirms that you are in Ireland. The iconic hotel contains the largest private and most notable collection of 19th and 20th-century art in the country. Perhaps the first painting you don’t expect to see is The Battle of the Boyne by Jan van Huchenburg which hangs outside The Garden Room restaurant. The hotel also features many of Dublin’s most popular and extolled writers and artists. At the entrance of the restaurant is Red and Black Stripes by Sean Scully, one of the many great living artists in the collection. Why not enjoy the Art Tea which features a Battenberg cake that pays tribute to the Dublin born painter? In the garden is one of Dublin’s best-kept secrets, a statue of James Joyce. Ripples of Ulysses by local artist Rowan Gillespie also functions as a sundial.


The 143 high-ceilinged rooms contain Queen sized beds and luxury Egyptian cotton. There are city views featuring the Irish parliament Leinster House. Window views of the courtyard garden are also available. The spacious bathrooms are decorated with Italian marble and feature a separate bathtub and shower. The complementary commodities feature a large bottle of Oscar Wilde water endorsed by his grandson and fellow scribe Merlin Holland. He describes the refreshing drink, straight from the rolling hills in the heart of Ireland, as “exquisite”. The room is large enough to relax or get on with work at a large writing desk which is well stocked with stationery.


U2’s Bono can sometimes be found dining in Patrick Guilbaud, Ireland’s only Two Star Michelin restaurant situated in the hotel. One of Ireland’s top chefs Ed Cooney spent time in Scotland working in the Craigendarroch Resort with Ralph Porchani. He is now the creative force behind The Garden Room’s mouthwatering menu. The Dublin Bay prawns come recommended and live up to their succulent and delicious promise. If you’re looking for traditional Irish cuisine and fresh produce then this is the place. The 28-day dry-aged rib-eye steak with fries, onion rings and peppercorn sauce is served by friendly, informal staff who add to the congenial and homely atmosphere of the hotel and restaurant. There’s not a hint of grease on the traditional Irish cooked breakfast which is also served in The Garden Room.


Across the road from the hotel is Reilly’s Bar which offers the jovial and essential Irish craic along with trad music sessions and sociable patrons. In the same spot is O’Donoghue’s, trading since 1934 this lively watering hole became the hub of local heroes The Dubliners. A row of portraits pay tribute to the members amid various memorabilia. It is something of a living museum with tourists drinking pints of the black stuff while enjoying folk sessions. Across from the nearby St Stephen’s Green, The Little Museum of Dublin offers an award-winning potted history of the city with the option of a guide and a collection of over 5,000 artefacts such as a facsimile James Joyce’s death mask and an armband from the 1916 Easter Rising. One portrait features the Edinburgh born rebellion leader; James Connolly. There’s also a room dedicated to U2 with various pop culture collectables telling the story of the band going back their formation in 1976.


The Merrion is about to reveal a brand-new spa and health club, a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of a once again thriving city. Designed by local interiors expert Alice Roden, whose work is seen throughout The Merrion, the new spa is described as “a haven” with soft Irish fabrics, delicate lighting, six treatments rooms, a steam room, sauna, gym and 18-metre pool.


The Merrion sits at the centre of Ireland’s storied and stormy history. Another kind of folk hero was born within these hotel walls; The Duke of Wellington. In popular Scottish culture, he is instantly recognisable with a cone on his head in Royal Exchange Square. The military genius who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo and served twice as British Prime Minister gives a sense of Dublin’s ever-present dual identity. Just a short walk away from the birthplace of this stalwart of the British Crown, you can view the original first draft of the first Constitution of Ireland in The Shelbourne Hotel, such is the nature of the city.

For more information please visit