A few weeks ago my boyfriend turned 26 and I wanted to surprise him and take him away somewhere swanky for a short break. We both work very hard and long hours so I was after somewhere where we could relax and switch off from everything for a couple of days and just feel a bit pampered. After lots of research, Dublin seemed like the ideal place and after checking out some reviews on tripadvisor, The Dylan hotel looked like the perfect choice, being rated the 2nd best hotel in the city.
The Dylan is a 5 star boutique hotel based slightly outside of Dublin's main centre in a 19th-century townhouse that used to house the nurses of the nearby hospital. It's located on the South side of town by the canal in a quiet side street in a residential part of town, so you're unlikely to be bothered by any noise, but is a quick and very straightforward 10 minute walk into the centre to get to St Stephen's Green.
Boutique hotels can be tricky in getting the balance right between luxury and just being too damn pretentious. In my opinion Dylan strikes the perfect balance: everything about the hotel was just stunning. The decor is fabulous - very contemporary slash baroque, all velvet, chandeliers and candles, and the staff made us feel utterly pampered and couldn't do enough for us. I often find at 5 star hotels the staff can be somewhat sniffy if they feel that you aren't clearly rich or feel that you aren't worthy of staying in their hotel, but this was not the case at all at the Dylan. When we checked in our room wasn't ready (no surprise at 11.00) so we stored our bags which were then taken up to the room when it was ready and headed off to get something to eat. We were given numerous recommendations by the receptionist, who also gave us a map and talked us through the walk into town. From then on, throughout our stay we were greeted by name which was a lovely personal touch - even the doorman on our return would greet us with "Welcome back"
* The Room *
Our room itself was fantastic. I paid 220 Euros a night including breakfast for a 'luxury' room, which is their basic room. On ringing the day before to confirm I was told we had been given a complimentary upgrade to an "experience" room, which was situated up at the top of the hotel with a pitched roof with beautiful natural wood beams and was just huge, decorated in lavish autumn colours, lots of deep reds and maroons, with a massive bed with Frette sheets, flat screen tv, huge marble bathroom complete with underfloor heating and tv in the wall, Bang & Olufsen telephone, big fluffy bath robes and slippers, bath salts, even an ipod and stereo dock complete with a selection of music and even walking tours of Dublin that you were welcome to take out and about with you. It also had a huge desk area which would be great for using your laptop (there is also a laptop accommodating safe), but worked better for us as a hairstyling/makeup table for me! We were shown to the room by the receptionist who gave us a tour and showed us how to use all the appliances. It was the little touches that really made the room for me - the umbrella that was kept in the wardrobe for you to take out, the fact that you could ring down to reception and ask them to send you up the GHDs to straighten your hair, the free WiFi, the fact that the minibar wasn't hooked up to a computer to charge you as soon as you moved anything. The obligatory folder in the room was really well put together, with pages of restaurant recommendations and suggestions for things to do. There are also a few quirky goodies in the minibar, such as the Karma Sutra kit and scented candle!
There is the obligatory turn down service - I find this embarrassing, so we opted to just have the cute chocolate owl and the water they provide without standing there while the maid fluffs the pillows. The bed was very comfortable and I had two wonderful night's sleep, and the air conditioning was easy to adjust if it didn't feel quite warm enough.
The bathroom was one of the best parts about the hotel for me - we don't have a bath at home, so I made full use of it. I loved the fact that the hotel provided not only the regular bath and shower gel, and body lotion, but also bath salts (all Etro, which ensured I had a lovely bubbly and relaxing bath. You could even request a 'his' or 'hers' bath - hers with champagn and rose petals and his with a glass of whisky - at 24 Euros we passed, but a lovely idea! The shower and bath were easy to use - I hate having to go through what seems like an intelligence test in order to work out exactly how to get hot water out of the taps!
* Breakfast *
Breakfast was served in the restaurant between 6.30 and 10.30, which is a lovely change from being on holiday in a place where you have to have breakfast before 9 or you miss out, which doesn't really give you a relaxed feel! Breakfast itself was fantastic, I had been considering cancelling the breakfast included with the room, as for 20 Euros extra it seemed a bit steep, but I'm so glad I left it in. You could choose from a full Irish breakfast (bacon, eggs, sausage, black and white pudding, tomato, mushroom), cereals, omlettes, muffins, pancakes. The first day I had a muffin with scrambled egg and smoked salmon which was really fantastic and left me full up until the evening! There are a selection of juices (orange juice was freshly squeezed and delicious) as well as fruit, toast and pastries. If you did want to skip the breakfast though, there is an espresso bar literally right opposite the hotel, where I'm sure you could grab a much cheaper breakfast, but for me, it was well worth paying the extra.
* Dinner *
On our second night we decided to eat in the Still restaurant to celebrate my boyfriend's birthday and I would highly recommend trying out the restaurant while you are there. The head chef is Padraic Hayden, who produces modern Irish food in a laid back, calm atmosphere. The food we had was superb and very reasonably priced, costing 30 Euros each for the 3 course set menu. I had a smoked salmon blini to start, mushroom tortellini, and then creme brulee (the best creme brulee I have ever had - delicious!). They also have an extensive wine list (extensive is an understatement - they list over 200 wines and we did refer to it as the 'wine bible' it was so heavy! There was a good selection to choose from, from the reasonably priced 30 Euro bottles, to some very expensive options if you were really splashing out! Like the rest of the hotel, the decor of the restaurant is fantastic, rich purples, chandeliers and silver, and service was impeccable.
* The Bar *
Like the restaurant, the bar is stunning and has a more funky feel - all red velvet sofas with purple accents and red glass on the wall. We sat in two huge high backed chairs and had a Guinness, a coke and some chips to kill time before leaving for our flight. Prices are expensive, but no more so than any other bar in Dublin, and the atmosphere is buzzy. I wish I'd not been so tired after dinner and we'd been able to have a cocktail from their extensive cocktail list, but after a day of sightseeing I was shattered!
There is also a Library for guests of the hotel to use and take their drinks into if the main bar is a bit crowded - very relaxing white and green colour scheme with a white grand piano, white leather sofas and a big tv on the wall.
As well as the library there is also a courtyard area in the middle of the hotel which would be lovely in summer, but in mid January felt a bit chilly to be lingering in.
I would thoroughly recommend the Dylan to anyone looking for a short break where they want to get away from everything and be utterly pampered. Being a boutique hotel there's no pool or gym, but the thought of either never crossed our minds - in a city break, when do you ever really get the time to use either?! It's not really a hotel that's family friendly, so leave the kids at home! I have never felt as looked after by hotel staff as I did here and, although it was expensive, it was worth every penny. On our return I even had an email from them checking we'd enjoyed our stay and offering us a discounted rate if we wanted to return before April. While I'd return in a second, I think my bank manager would forbid it for now anyway! Oh, and the boyfriend loved it too!
Eastmoreland Place, Dublin 4
T: +353 1 6603000
This 5 star boutique hotel is situated in the near vicinity of the centre of Dublin.