Mary Gostelow digs into the Heart of Dublin

Girlahead visits LHW's art-centric Merrion Hotel

Australia claims third largest percentage of citizens with Irish roots (top slot is the USA, followed by Canada). At last count, 10% of Australians said ancestors came from the Emerald Isle. Many know Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, home ground of Six Nations and many other prestigious sports events.

The Merrion Hotel, Dublin, is only seven vehicular minutes, traffic permitting, from the Aviva Stadium. This 143-room Leading Hotels of the World gem has so much to impress, like service, facilities – and history. It was put together, as if a jigsaw, from four adjacent 18th century townhouses, one of which was Wellington’s birthplace.

Lower Terrace, The Merrion Hotel, Dublin

It has location, on Upper Merrion Street, a few minutes’ walk past St Stephen’s Green to the best-shopping of Grafton Street, from which turn left for Temple Bar, right for Trinity College Dublin (TCD) or continue straight, for the River Liffey.

And art. The hotel’s philanthropic shareholder Lochlann Quinn has loaned 159 items for permanent display throughout the hotel and its gorgeous garden, framed, as it were, by Merrion buildings around. One greenery-set sculpture is Jack B. Yeats by Laurence Campbell 1911-1964, done in 1944 when the sitter was a septuagenarian: there are also, inside, several Yeats paintings, including a 1925 view of The Old Grass Road in Kinsale. There’s a do-it-yourself audio tour, and if you want yet more art, the National Gallery of Ireland is three minutes’ walk away.

The Front Hall, The Merrion Hotel, Dublin

The Merrion’s also a gathering place of today’s VIPs – the imposing Department of the Taoiseach is literally just across the road. Ireland’s decision-makers network in the hotel’s semi-basement Cellar Bar, the brick-walled, barrel-ceilinged wine vaults of three centuries ago. Dine gastro-pub there, or book fine dining in separately-run Patrick Guilbaud, which has two Michelin stars.

For modern Irish in a most agreeable nature-filled environment, head for the hotel’s own Garden Room conservatory. Try Irish beef (best wagyu is Ridgeway, from Co Wicklow), perhaps with Guinness. Supposed general wisdom warns against hotel restaurants without street entrances but here, says GM Peter MacCann, the Garden Room works like a dream.

Specialist evenings are, also, highly attractive to Dublin foodies and connoisseurs: a Champagne Mumm-sponsored six-course tasting evening on 24th March sold out two hours after the initial posting.

Peter MacCann, General Manager, The Merrion Hotel Dublin
The Drawing Rooms, The Merrion Hotel, Dublin

Locals also make good use of the Merrion’s wellness, which can be accessed direct from the street. The 17-metre pool has a trompe l’oeil fantasy country scene, complete with monkey, at one end. The spa offers Biologique Récherché and ESPA. The fitness studio is Technogym.

For additional calorie-consumption, during my last stay I eschewed elevators to use 29 historic wrought-iron-railed stairs to get up to room #183, overlooking the peaceful inner gardens. I could see some statues out there. Was one the Yeats likeness? I must return to the Emerald Isle.

The Garden Room Restaurant, The Merrion Hotel, Dublin

Lead image: Junior Suite, The Main House – The Merrion Hotel Dublin

Mary Gostelow publishes the daily and a unique weekly 15-minute industry Mary Gostelow Girlahead Podcast, both part of Almont Global.

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