Dubliner Nicola Brady on the most stylish hotels for all tastes in the Irish capital
Dublin has never been as alluring as it is right now. New, exciting restaurants are popping up every other week, along with sleek bars that are enhancing the beloved pub scene.
With a decent variety of hotels on offer, it’s easy to find a place that suits your needs, whether you’re looking for a luxurious blowout or a budget crash pad. Be warned, though – hotels can fill up quickly, so it’s worth booking at least a few months in advance.
As a hotel-obsessed travel writer who calls Dublin home, I have a hotlist of favourite spots in the city – places where you can rely on enviable interiors, a comfy bed and a big smile at check-in. Because if there’s one thing that can be all but guaranteed in Dublin, it’s a warm welcome.
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Best for history: The Shelbourne
Neighbourhood: Stephen’s Green
There’s nowhere quite like The Shelbourne. The “Grand Dame of Dublin” opened in 1824, and still retains a feeling of old world luxury – the doormen are decked out in top hats, the ceilings drip with golden chandeliers and the rooms are kitted out with lust-worthy antiques. This is real special occasion territory, and it also plays a special role in Ireland’s history – the Irish Constitution was drafted within these walls in 1922.
Doubles from €260, B&B
Best for luxury: The Merrion
Neighbourhood: Merrion Street
When it comes to sheer, unbridled luxury, you can’t beat The Merrion. This is the place to go when you want to evoke that Lord of the Manor vibe, without ever leaving the city. The rooms are the ultimate in comfortable luxury – think plush, kitten-soft beds, corniced ceilings and marble bathrooms. Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Ireland’s only two Michelin-starred location, is right downstairs, and the pastries served in the Drawing Rooms for Afternoon Tea are artistic masterpieces.
Doubles from €310, B&B
Best for budget: Grafton Guesthouse
Neighbourhood: South Great George’s Street
It’s no secret that Dublin can be tricky on a budget, particularly when it comes to hotels. But there are bargains to be found, without having to compromise on style. Grafton Guesthouse is something of a secret in the city. It's positioned right on the restaurant-heavy George’s Street, and the rooms have a Nordic simplicity, with exposed brick walls and beams. It can be a little noisy at night, but if you’re looking to join the party then you’ll be in heaven.
Doubles from €129, B&B
Best for the personal touch: Brooks Hotel
Neighbourhood: Drury Street
Considering the reasonable enough room rates, there’s a real sense of individualised attention to detail at the Brooks Hotel. There’s a pillow menu on your bed, a free smartphone (with data) for you to use throughout your stay, and even a hotel book club, with a changing title each month. The residents’ bar is a cosy little sanctuary, and there’s a 26-seat cinema, with themed movie nights.
Doubles from €190, B&B
Best for sophistication: Conrad Dublin
Neighbourhood: Earlsfort Terracе
Still basking in its €14 million renovation, the Conrad Dublin is one of the finest hotels in town. The rooms strike the perfect balance between style and comfort, with an emphasis on Irish heritage – think Foxford woven blankets on the beds and Irish art on the walls. Breakfast in The Coburg brasserie is a highlight, with a whole honeycomb at the buffet, cafetieres on every table and the fluffiest of pancakes cooked to order.
Doubles from €299, B&B
Best for cosiness: Number 31
Neighbourhood: Leeson Close
If you weren’t looking for Number 31, you’d likely walk past it without noticing. Hidden away behind a tall garden wall, this Georgian townhouse is all about sumptuous, classic design, with original features that make architecture nerds weep with joy. There are just 21 bedrooms – opt for one in the townhouse rather than the modern mews, for their intricately carved ceilings and tall sash windows.
Doubles from €215, B&B
Best for romance: Cliff Townhouse
Neighbourhood: Stephen’s Green
More of a restaurant with rooms than a hotel, the Cliff Townhouse is a gorgeous Georgian building overlooking Stephen’s Green. There’s a top-notch seafood restaurant downstairs, and nine classically elegant bedrooms upstairs – think velvet headboards, antique furniture and original fireplaces. After oysters in the Champagne Bar and a slap up seafood dinner, you’ll be glad you only have to plod up a few stairs to your bed.
Doubles from €170, B&B
Best for partying: The Dean
Neighbourhood: Harcourt Street
If you’re in town for a good time, The Dean is the place for you. With a rooftop bar so buzzy it practically vibrates, and an in-house DJ in the lobby, this isn’t the spot for a serene night away, but rather a crash pad for a night of partying. With their own record players and Smeg fridges, the rooms are the epitome of cool, and the Mod Pod rooms are often a steal.
Doubles from €110, room only
Best for foodies: The Westbury
Neighbourhood: Balfe Street
It’s rare that a hotel restaurant attracts local diners, but at The Westbury, you’ll always find Dubliners looking for a bite to eat. There’s an opulent art deco vibe in WILDE, the light-filled restaurant dripping with greenery, and a sleeker, neighbourhood vibe in Balfes, but both offer exceptional food (and killer cocktails). Afternoon Tea in the Gallery is a practically an institution, and is excellent for people watching.
Doubles from €350, B&B
Best for business travellers: The Alex
Neighbourhood: Fenian Street
If you’re travelling for work, you’re often lumbered with a soulless corporate hotel, with a personality as beige as the bedroom walls. Not so at The Alex, a recently renovated space that’s chic, while still catering perfectly to a business traveller. There’s a cool co-working space in the lobby, a coffee shop for quick caffeine fixes and a Mad Men-esque bar for those end of day cocktails.
Doubles from €200, room only
Best for views: Aloft Dublin City
In the heart of the Liberties, the Aloft is a cool new hotel with light-filled rooms, sleek design and a space-age glass exterior. But really, this place is all about the view – the hotel’s reception, along with a sprawling bar and little rooftop terrace, is all up on the seventh floor, giving you a panorama of the city. You can see the local cathedrals, various city landmarks, and even out to the Dublin Mountains. Dreamy.
Doubles from €149
Best for art fiends: The Devlin
In the pretty district of Ranelagh, just a short tram ride from the city centre, The Devlin is the place to go if you want to see a different side of Dublin. The rooms are on the smaller side, but stylish and cleverly designed, with a handheld garment steamer and a Dyson hairdryer stored under the bed. Upstairs, the cocktail bar Layla’s is great for sundowners or a boozy brunch, and there’s a teeny art deco cinema in the basement, too.
Doubles from €130
Best for peace and quiet: The Wilder Townhouse
Neighbourhood: Adelaide Road
With its gorgeous red brick exterior, plush rooms and stylishly cosy bar, The Wilder is the perfect hideaway in the city. All of the spaces are residents-only, so there’s a pleasing aura of calm to the hotel, despite the fact it’s only a short walk from the city centre. Each night, turndown service comes with a bedtime story of sorts, in the form of a book of Irish fairy tales or The Complete Short Stories by Oscar Wilde left on your pillow.
Doubles from €160