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
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
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
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.