Ireland's Merrion merges old, new styles By Felicity Long / March 01, 2001 Share 1 -- DUBLIN -- "The Merrion!" exclaimed the cab driver on our way back to the hotel after the theater. "The chicest!" Indeed, the five-star property, located in Merrion Square across from the parliament, is worthy of such a sobriquet.Like Dublin itself, the hotel distinguishes itself by being both old and new.Only open as a hotel since October 1997, the Merrion, Dublin resides in a row of Georgian buildings -- four to be exact -- all of which have been restored masterfully by artisans.The public rooms in the 145-room property, including the entryway and reception areas, consist of a string of rooms with cozy fireplaces and lush fabrics juxtaposed with striking modern art and contemporary touches.Rooms wrap around a central garden terrace, featuring sculptures from different eras.Guests have a tendency to settle into nooks and intimate corners in the public rooms, where they can have afternoon tea or sip cocktails in front of a roaring fire.Guest rooms boast a light, airy ambience with Georgian-period furnishings and inviting, puffy bedding.Phones in the guest rooms double as a fax machine and e-mail system. You can type in e-mail messages on the phone keyboard, which are transmitted through the phone line, and each room has its own e-mail address.Visitors can dine at the Morningtons Brasserie or the Cellar Bar, but most will want to try the two-Michelin-star Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud at least once during their say.A three-course meal will run about $25 per person for lunch and $70 to $85 for dinner. The cuisine lives up to its hype, using fresh local ingredients and a menu that changes with the seasons.The decor, with its thought-provoking modern sculptures and paintings, provides a lively contrast to the more traditional interiors elsewhere in the hotel.The hotel also features No. 23, a cozy cocktail bar on the main floor.A nice feature at the Merrion is the Tethra Spa in the Garden Wing, which offers spa treatments such as facials, wraps and massages, and a fitness center with a small but complete circuit of fitness equipment.I especially loved the infinity swimming pool, set in a kind of glassed-in grotto adorned with trompe l'oeil murals, and the generous-size marble steam room.