Published On: Mon, Mar 5th, 2018

The Merrion Hotel Shines Bright with Dublin Heritage

One of the most memorable aspects of Georgian architecture in Dublin is how disarming it is to walk indoors. 18th Century homes were subject to strict zoning regulations which required a uniformly plain (indeed almost drab) exterior. There was, however, no restriction on interiors, which in the finer homes were famously lavish.

The Merrion Hotel, converted from four such homes, continues this tradition today.

After a smiling welcome from smartly liveried doormen, one is whisked through the doors into the unadorned four story brick façade where memory of the outside world vanishes and the senses are assaulted with polished black and white marble tile, elegant carved moldings, and a fine selection of period art.

The elegance continues throughout a series of garden-facing drawing rooms off the intimate registration spaces where a peat fire place crackles warmth upon guests enjoying a leisurely breakfast or afternoon tea in spaces lovingly restored to two century-old specifications.

The finery continues to guest rooms in the main house, which are outfitted with similarly plush furnishings.

My Deluxe King room featured a spacious seating area with views of the Irish Government buildings across the street (Merrion Street itself is a colloquialism used to refer to the Irish government), a deliciously soft queen sized bed with a silk Chinese motif bedspread (a period favorite), and a marble bathroom filled with pinch-able Asprey Purple Water amenities (the plastic bag laid out next to the amenities practically coaxes for them to be carried off).

Some of my favorite little touches were the oversized, logo’d slippers provided at turndown (even the world’s best luxury hotels have made a habit of providing annoyingly skimpy ones) a conspicuous card on the desk offering instructions for using everything from the thermostat to the in-room Nespresso machine (there’s a skill to it, but the hotel’s exclusively-designed china cups beg to be used). Also thoughtful were the additional hang-knobs on the interior and exterior of the guest room door to keep do-not disturb and room service signs from interfering with the door handle.

Staff are effusively warm and engaging, and they’re also Dublin experts who can suggest a very near pub popular with local residents or arrange a picnic to be packed into one of the hotel’s bicycles for a lazy afternoon spent exploring via pedal. There was just the right amount of intuition, where it seemed to be easily understood without explanation that a quiet evening meal was the preference, while lively chatting about the city and weather outlook were most welcomed at breakfast.

Speaking of meals, they were both superb.

The hotel houses Dublin’s only Michelin two-star restaurant, but for those wanting something a bit less lofty the new Garden Restaurant turns out serviceable Irish fare most reasonably priced for the quality and atmosphere. Dinner menus showcase a range of Irish dishes from land and sea with options ranging from standard hotel fare to the more avant-garde. Breakfast was a sumptuous cold buffet with several hot items made to order; those seeking an Irish Breakfast resplendent with eggs, rashers, sausage, black pudding, tomato, mushroom, and toast will find it all expertly done.

The gardens the restaurant and hotel’s drawing rooms overlook is also done in the well-tended Georgian style, with smart rows of local flora and in particular Irish Yew trees which were wildly popular in the 1700s because they evoked the Italian Cypress trees the nobility would have grown familiar with on their grand tours of the Continent. During warmer weather there’s outdoor food and beverage service.

Modern touches include the hotel’s Garden Wing, where design is more contemporary (although rooms in the Historic house are completely updated and as well-wired for guest electronics as a new build) and the spa and swimming pool which round out the offerings to keep this property firmly five star.

The Takeaway

The Merrion Hotel Dublin evokes both history and hospitality in the heart of the country’s thriving capital city; easily one of the world’s great hotels, but unmistakeably Irish in character and execution.

The Math

I’ve seen rooms from €295 per night inclusive of VAT and tax; there is no service charge.

Instagrammable Moment

Lavish drawing rooms were the undisputed stars of my Instagram feed.

Loyalty

A member of Leading Hotels of The World, The Merrion Hotel participates in that brand’s Leaders Club loyalty program.

Good To Know

Continental breakfast can be added to the room for €24 or full breakfast for €29; with an exhaustive selection and a substantial cook-to-order menu, I considered this a good value.

There is free WiFi throughout the hotel.

The Dublin airport express buses pickup and dropoff on Merrion Street within a block of the hotel entrance.

Accommodations were furnished by The Merrion Hotel, Dublin in preparation for this story.

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