With over 40 million Americans claiming some form of Irish ancestry (myself included), a visit to the Celtic homeland is a must on many bucket lists, and many more bucket lists have Ireland added to them each year when St. Patrick’s Day arrives.
These are bucket-lists after all, so you’ll probably only be heading off to Ireland once in your life — it’s important to make it count. Why book a discounted hostel, a potentially dangerous or dirty Airbnb, or a mid-grade hotel for a trip that you will literally never take again? Live a little. Splurge. The Irish are famous for their profligacy when it comes to having a good time (they spend big on funerals and weddings), so embrace that Irishness and book a stay at the Conrad Dublin, the city’s coolest, most luxurious, and most welcoming place to lay your head in Ireland’s ancient capital. (It was also voted Ireland’s Leading Luxury Hotel in 2017 by the World Travel Awards.)
Conrad Dublin stands out from the many other hotels near St. Stephen’s Green through its clever use of architecture and design to fully invoke a sense of place (thanks in part to a recent multi-million euro renovation). The structure slowly integrates you into the rainy, green, and gray locale.
Wrought-iron dividers between the lobby and the hotel’s restaurants and bars call back to the “hidden” Iveagh Gardens located just across the street behind the National Concert Hall. The soft greens of the decor, offset by bright white walls and black metalwork, reinforce the awareness that you are not in a mid-tier hotel, or even an American hotel. The architecture and atmosphere are evocative of Dublin’s cityscape and the Emerald Isle’s rolling pastures. To put it in perspective: Every day walking in the hotel, I knew I was in Ireland.
Beyond the beauty of the building itself, the hospitality and service of every Conrad Dublin employee stand outs when compared to hotels. Here, a guest gets the sense that a server, doorman, or bartender really do want to make them happy, whether that’s by pouring the perfect pint of Guinness, delivering extra pillows for a better night’s sleep, or simply smiling hello at every encounter. This feeling is one you’ll encounter everywhere in Ireland, not just in luxury hotels; the people are truly warm, welcoming, and hospitable. And nowhere within the Conrad Dublin is that more apparent than in the restaurants and bars.
The Food and Drink
Just off the lobby are two of the hotel’s amazing food and beverage options: The Coburg Brasserie, where guests can be found at breakfast and dinner, and Lemuel’s Bar and Lounge, where you can take high tea or have a few good drinks. Downstairs on street level is Alfie Byrne’s Pub by Galway Bay Brewery, where a pint is only a pull away.
The Coburg Brasserie
Named after the Coburg Gardens, the royal stable that previously occupied the place of the current Iveagh Gardens, this brasserie offers up a full continental and Irish breakfast, lunch, and dinner surrounded by equestrian styling and design. With light fixtures that evoke stable lanterns, thick plank floors, and brass hardware reminiscent of saddle tack, the Coburg wraps its guests in an old-school vibe while serving up a distinctly modern spread. From steak frites to rack of lamb to fish and chips and oodles of oysters, the Coburg offers tantalizingly dishes made from all-Irish ingredients. A dining experience here is truly farm-to-fork.
Lemuel’s Bar and Lounge
Named after Lemuel Gulliver (of Gulliver’s Travels by Irish writer Jonathan Swift), this open space provides high tea by day and hard drinks by night. With decor that includes a room-length skylight, a brass map of Gulliver’s travels, a poet in residence, and a playful literary theme in most of the bar’s innovative cocktails, Lemuel’s is the perfect place to drop in after dinner for a digestif or after a show at the National Concert Hall for a night cap. We recommend the Writer’s Block, a drink that comes in a hallowed out book, from which you retrieve Writer’s Tears vodka, homemade beer syrup, and orange bitters, then mix it yourself. Not only is the beverage presented in a unique and fun way, but it’s also damned delicious.
Alfie Byrne’s by Galway Bay Brewery
Located on the ground-floor of the Conrad Hotel and created in partnership with the famed Galway Bay Brewery, Alfie Byrne’s is a quintessential Irish pub located no more than an elevator ride from your room. With a central bar constructed in Victorian style and an extensive lineup of craft beers and whiskeys, Alfie Byrne’s could give any other “traditional” pub in Dublin a run for its money. It was here, on my last night in Dublin, that I experienced the sheer, fanatic energy of an Ireland vs France rugby match on the big screen. Needless to say, the room was full of Irish people screaming at a screen, drinking pints of Guinness, and eating wings, sliders, ribs, and more.
Room options at the Conrad Dublin run from basic double rooms to a presidential suite, but even the least expensive option at this hotel is a luxury experience. All rooms feature beautiful wood floors, Irish artwork, Nespresso machines, complimentary soft drinks and water, 300-thread-count sheets, Irish wool blanket throws, a 48-inch LED television, high-speed Wi-Fi., and a built-in international voltage converter (meaning if you forget yours, you’ll have no trouble powering up your laptop). Suites are a step up from the traditional rooms; you can expect additional sitting areas with dining tables, couches, and other amenities that make the space feel more like a home than a hotel. Bathrooms are spacious, with showers, bathtubs, bathrobes and slippers, and luxury toiletries. In fact, the rooms are so comfortable, some days it might be hard to leave it at all.
The Conrad Dublin has all the amenities you know you want and some you never knew you needed before. A full-size gym and exercise room complete with weight benches, machines, yoga balls, free-weights, and more means you won’t have to worry about going flabby after all the Irish food you’ll be eating at The Coburg. If you’re more of a runner than a weight-lifter, the Conrad Dublin offers laminated running maps with directions to the best jogging areas in the neighborhood, including scenic runs around St. Stephen’s Green, Grafton Street, and a variety of gardens. If like golf, you’re in the right place — the Conrad Dublin partners with the Royal Dublin Golf Club to offer preferential rates for guests at the historic 18-hole course along Dublin Bay. However, the pièces de résistance of amenities at the Conrad is the hotel’s 1/3/5 program (which we wrote about during our visit to the Conrad Bora Bora Nui). The 1/3/5 program was developed by Conrad Hotels as a way to offer more local, cultural, and traditional experiences for hotel guests. In Dublin, the concierge can suggest a number of activities that can be fit into the one-, three-, and five-hour time frames. From a day in the countryside visiting Newgrange and a tiny country pub to trips down Grafton street in search of authentic Irish souvenirs to a nighttime whiskey crawl through the best bars in Dublin, there’s something for everyone in this program. Best of all? The planning and itineraries are completely complimentary; expenses are only incurred at the activities themselves.
A final note about the Conrad Dublin: It is in a perfect location to explore the city. Nestled in the heart of the capital, just a stone’s throw from St. Stephen’s Green, the Conrad Dublin is in close proximity to the city’s greatest hits. From Trinity College and its stunning library to Grafton Street, which remarkably like Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, to Christchurch Cathedral, Teeling Whiskey Co., and The Temple Bar, this hotel serves as a home base for adventurous guests who aren’t afraid to pound the pavement and brave the wind and rain (because, truthfully, there will always be wind and rain in Ireland).
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