Both a leisure capital and a European business hub, Dublin is bubbling with hotels for all manner of guests, united only by the warm hospitality that the Irish stereotype gets right. The catch? Dublin has the highest occupancy rate among comparable European cities, so even modest rooms come at eye-wateringly expensive prices, and the better ones are often fully booked weeks in advance. In this regard, it’s a city that rewards the well-organised.
As most notable hotels are located within a small radius (and walking distance from the city’s top attractions, bars and restaurants), location isn’t the key factor when picking a place. Instead, it’s the fine touches, impressive offerings or prominence in the city’s lore; here are the hotels that should be your first ports of call.
Best hotels in Dublin
Dublin’s hippest hotel, The Dean is an urban sanctuary for creative types. With its industrial chic style and James Earley-curated modern art collection, locals outnumber residents in its rooftop restaurant and late-night bar. Rooms range from ‘punk bunks’, to suites where all-back-to-mine parties are welcomed – as demonstrated by the fully-stocked Smeg fridge and Marshall speakers. The helpful features of The Dean go on forever, but it’s the funky, friendly atmosphere that gives its lasting impression.
No 31 is technically a B&B, but actually a secluded boutique hotel exuding edge and elegance. It’s a two-parter; the stunning mews house is designed by renowned architect Sam Stephenson and features a sunken lounge, mezzanine space, and feature fireplace. Venture past the back garden to find the Georgian townhouse, which hosts the majority of the cosy rooms with high ceilings, beautiful design and most importantly, Voya toiletries.
Classy, minimalist and modern, The Marker is the place to be in the Grand Canal Dock, and not only for its five-star accommodation. On a sunny day, there’s no better place to admire Dublin’s skyline than its expansive rooftop bar, and on any day, their signature cronut, a croissant/donut hybrid, is a delicious calling card.
If the rule of thumb still stands that hotels near major train stations should be avoided, there’s a welcome exception in The Address, opposite Connolly Station. It’s the boutique extension of the cavernous North Star Hotel, with rooms that feature the handiest set of bedside buttons and a (non-alcoholic) complimentary minibar. On a rare fine day, make use of the rooftop residents’ lounge, featuring a balcony with views of Dublin at work.
Dublin doesn’t get more refined than The Merrion, a 18th century townhouse with Ireland’s only two Michelin starred restaurant. Its pristine rooms and manicured gardens are decadent delights, aided only by staff who insist nothing is too much trouble. Don’t miss their Art Afternoon Tea, inspired by paintings around the hotel including that of Louis le Brocquy, Jack B Yeats and Pauline Bewick.
Like its European counterparts, Generator’s Dublin hostel has the priorities of a modern traveller in mind: a cool design, free Wi-fi, enough sockets, and convivial bar for making new best friends over a pint or several. It’s located in the cool area of Smithfield, and just a whiskey stone’s throw away from the Jameson Distillery.
Step into the reception with its baroque chairs, leather-panelled lift and model-like staff, and the Dylan immediately sets out its stall as an oasis of exclusivity with just the right amount of pretension – it’s no surprise it opened at the height of the Celtic Tiger in 2006. Its 72 boudoirs are individually designed with bold furnishings beautiful enough to admire as works of art, and its new wing is a touch more contemporary.
There’s a finite number of destinations that can offer a castle stay, so all’s the more reason to head out to Clontarf Castle. Benefitting from a €13 million refurbishment in recent years, it’s made up of a 12th-century castle, 18th-century manor house and contemporary extensions; even its rooms are a plush mix of old and new. Note that there’s not much within walking distance, but that pales into insignificance by the fact you’re staying in a freaking castle.
Parallel to Grafton Street and directly opposite the Mayor of Dublin’s residence, The Dawson is for those who like to be in the heart of the action. Miraculously, most of its 36 rooms miss out on the street noise, of which there’s plenty – Dawson Street is home to Dublin’s nicer bars. There’s no restaurant just yet and it can feel a little cramped, but its rooms are decently sized. Anyway, who’d want to be inside when Dublin’s on the doorstep.
A former 19th century parochial school by the banks of the Grand Canal, The Schoolhouse’s nicely restored building makes it a stand-out stay. With high, arching ceilings and wooden beams, the main classroom is now the restaurant, the domestic science room is now the kitchen, and the former teachers’ residence are now guest rooms, invitingly kitted out in William Morris designs.
A city centre hotel it is not, but in the heart of the well-to-do Ballsbridge, the 153-roomed contemporary Herbert Park Hotel is convenient for the Aviva Stadium, RDS and Dublin’s coastline. Both the hotel’s bright, airy public areas and the rooms, with large windows and green views, are ideal for lingering. Best of all, stays are reasonably priced. Hallelujah.