* Prices may differ from that shown
~ ~ The Merrion Hotel only opened its doors for business just over two years ago, but already is vying with the venerable and ancient Shelbourne Hotel for the distinction of being rated as the top hotel in Dublin city. It would be hard to find a better or more central location than the Merrion. Situated on Upper Merrion Street, in the very heart of old Georgian Dublin, it is directly opposite Government Buildings and the “Dial”, the main Houses of Parliament in Ireland, and literally round the corner from the famous St. Stephen’s Green, with its beautiful inner-city park. ~ ~ The Merrion was in fact the result of four separate Georgian buildings being totally redesigned, revamped and amalgamated, to produce a masterpiece of craftsmanship that you would swear had been in place for centuries. One of the original buildings, No. 24, was the family home of Lord Mornington, and his son, the 1st Duke of Wellington, is said to have been born here. It combines all the grace and elegance of the 18th century with all the benefits that 21st century technology can bring, but does so seamlessly and with style and chic. ~ ~ As a taxi-driver, this is a hotel that I frequent often, both when I am working and off-duty, as it has one of the best French restaurants in Dublin (Patrick Guilbaud’s) located in its basement. (more later) I have got to know the staff very well, especially the doormen and receptionists, and I would be a “favoured” (need I elaborate? Isn’t commerce wonderful!) taxi-driver used by both staff and customers alike. ~ ~ This hotel is class, and class with a capital “C”. Absolutely everything about the place is designed with the guest in mind, and at the Merrion, nothing is too much trouble. As soon as a guest approaches either by taxi or limo, the friendly and cheerful doormen are down the Georgian steps, with the door held open, and ready to collect the l uggage from the boot. ~ ~ The hotel consists of two areas, the original Georgian section, and the new “Garden Wing”. All the main rooms have been lovingly restored to their former glory, and remain faithful in every detail to their Georgian origin, with genuine antique furniture, and the truly fabulous and ornate rococo plasterwork and cornices. A famous Irish designer and weaver, Alice Roden, was commissioned to design the guest rooms, using period colours, Irish fabrics, and antiques. This was her first commercial work, as she had gained her reputation working on the private houses of the rich and famous in Irish society, and as a result the Merrion has a distinctly “homely” feel about the place. ~ ~ The hotel is deceptively large, and in fact has 125 bedrooms and 20 suites. All are the last word in convenience and luxury. Again designed in Georgian style, each has its very own Italian marble bathroom, using “Carrera” marble especially imported from Italy. Each has a separate bath and power shower, and mist free mirrors, and each guest is supplied with a soft, fluffy bathrobe and a pair of slippers. ~ ~ If keeping fit is on your agenda, then you can use the hotel’s state of the art gymnasium facilities, with all the latest in high tech equipment. And if you want some guidance, there is a team of fully qualified instructors available to provide you with any help or assistance you might require. There is also an area called the “Tethra Spa”, where you can enjoy all the benefits of an individual beauty treatment from a qualified beautician, indulge yourself with a little Aromatherapy, or have a relaxing swim in the 18 metre pool. A steamroom, again designed in Italian marble, allows you to ease away the cares and stresses of a hard day’s business. (or sightseeing) Another feature, unusual for an inner city hotel, is the Merrion’s beautiful gar dens. There are, in fact, two gardens, the second smaller one, called the “Lady Mornington Garden” being purely decorative, and used as a novel way of linking the old building with the newer Garden Wing. A well-known Irish landscape artist, Jim Reynolds, was commissioned to design the two gardens, and the end result is both beautiful and relaxing. Once more, the theme is Georgian, with box hedges, pathways, statues, and ponds all helping to recreate the atmosphere of days gone by. In the summer, tables are put out, and the main garden becomes an extension to the main rooms in the old house, with guests able to take a relaxing refreshment or even dine “al fresco”. (Irish weather permitting!) ~ ~ You have a choice of two restaurants and two bars in the Merrion. ~ ~ The first of the restaurants, the “Mornington”, is the main restaurant of the hotel, and is used for all guest meals. The standard of fare is what you would expect from a hotel of this quality, and particular emphasis is placed on traditional Irish foods. In the evening, you can choose from the more expensive A la Carte menu, or eat nearly as well from the reasonably priced “table d’hôte” set menu. ~ ~ The second restaurant is the world renowned “Patrick Guilbaud’s”. This is a French restaurant that is practically a Dublin institution. It moved around the corner from its old home just off Baggot Street to take up residence in the Merrion, but lost none of its flair, imagination, and style along the way. The food is completely and absolutely out of this world, (as are the prices, incidentally, but I get a taxi-driver’s “discount”, heh, heh!) and it is the ONLY two star Michelin approved restaurant in the whole of Ireland. The restaurant is located in the Merrion’s basement, and overlooks the gardens to the back, with access either from the hotel itself or from the street. It also houses a magnificent collection of 20th century Irish art, and has a side room if you wish to book it for a private dinner party. ~ ~ There are also two bars in the Merrion. The first is a small and intimate cocktail bar called the “No. 23”, that is ideal if you want a quite drink in relaxing surroundings, and is situated on the ground floor of the hotel. The second bar is far larger and far more boisterous. Called the “Cellar Bar”, it is a favoured spot of the Dublin “jet set” and high society. You will bump into all sorts in here, from the Prime Minister (Taoiseach) and members of the Cabinet, to famous rock singers, film stars, right down to your ordinary man off the street. There is very tasty pub grub served during the day, with Irish oysters being a speciality of the house, and it is renowned throughout the city for the flavour and quality of its draught Guinness. Tuesday night is particularly lively, with a traditional Irish music night designed to get even the most stubborn of feet tapping. ~ ~ So how much will all this luxury, good living, and pure decadence cost you. Well, lets say you’ll want to be pretty well heeled! Prices START at £250 for a single room, rising to a staggering £750 for a two bedroomed suite. That’s per night, not per week, by the way! (And it doesn’t even include breakfast at £18 extra!) There are some special deals available though, that just about brings it into the ordinary person’s price bracket. You can go for the “Merrion Getaway”, that will give you one night in a double room and full Irish breakfast for only £210 (for two) per night. Or lash out on the “Tethra Spa Enchantment” offer. This gives you two nights accommodation for two, full Irish breakfast, and a treatment of your choice in the “Tetra Spa”, plus a complimentary bottle of Champers on arri val, all for a measly £490. (All prices in Irish Punts. Minus approx 20% for Sterling)) ~ ~ Even if you can’t afford the prices to actually stay in this wonderful hotel, at least give it a look if you ever visit the “Fair City”. I guarantee you will come away impressed.