The ultimate hotel guide to Dublin
From grande dames and Georgian townhouses to street art-inspired boutiques and self-catering gems, the Irish capital’s eclectic hotel scene is more exciting than ever before.
Dublin is every bit as hard to define as the dialects on its streets and the craic in its pubs. Even lingering visits leave you feeling like you’ve barely scratched the surface of a capital that transports you from Georgian terraces to glossy new-builds in the turn of a corner. Beyond the city’s walkable core, cradled by canals, urban villages like Ranelagh and Rathmines are blossoming, while Phibsborough, Stoneybatter and the Liberties deftly juggle age-old communities and the creep of gentrification. The mash-up of past and present is also reflected in the city’s accommodation options, which have taken a quantum leap forward in recent years, thanks to a wave of chic new stays and investment in stalwarts. Increasingly, Dublin’s hotels are where you’ll find some of its best cocktail bars and rooftop hangouts, too. As the city reboots and doors open, travellers can expect to feel a scintillating sense of making up for lost time.
Best for cinephiles: The Devlin
Hotels can be hit and miss in Dublin’s urban villages, and this Ranelagh retreat is firmly in the former camp. Its modernist cream exterior stands out amid the redbrick surrounds, while inside it’s crammed with edgy Irish art and compact rooms (from dinky ModPods to slightly larger TriPods). Nifty in-room touches like mini Marshall amp speakers and Munchie Boxes (stocked with Irish produce) make the most of the limited space. Best of all, there’s also a basement cinema, a luxe hideaway where you can order up snacks and cocktails to lamplit, mid-century-style armchairs, before ascending to Layla’s rooftop bar.
Rooms: Doubles from €159 (£138), room only.
Best for romantic getaways: Dylan
Stashed away on a side street near the Aviva Stadium, Dylan is a secluded bolthole where your drink clinks on a pewter bar, bold art stops you in the hall (check out that Ana Fuentes triptych) and a pre-dinner knock on the door brings a cocktail trolley and bartender. ‘Experience’ suites are the pick of the rooms, and a pair of restaurant terraces (The Eddison and The Nurserie) chime with our new age of the outdoors. Dishes here are served with a twist, and might include an autumn salad with wild rice, radicchio, golden beetroot, pumpkin and dark chocolate pesto.
Rooms: Doubles from €209 (£181), room only.
Best for Generation X: The Hendrick Smithfield
Over 250 artworks — Irish artists, including Maser and Vanessa Power, alongside global names such as Shepard Fairey and Taki 183 — are displayed throughout this Smithfield three-star. Tech and smart thinking are at the fore too, with check-in by tablet and guest rooms with clever layouts: expect intuitive storage nooks, and an elevated single ‘buzz bunk’ bed in the triple rooms. While it appeals to Instagram-savvy travellers, it’s also rooted in the local neighbourhood, as evidenced from its cocktails (mine’s a Jameson Black Barrel whiskey sour) and sandwiches from Dublin’s Delicious Food Co.
Rooms: Doubles from €84 (£73), room only.
Best for solo travellers: Jacobs Inn
This hostel’s location, next to bus, train and police stations, might seem a bit scruffy, but it’s just a 15-minute stroll from the lively Temple Bar district. The industrial-chic lobby greets guests with splashes of art, leafy plants and smart ideas like a €6 (£5) ‘bottomless porridge’ breakfast (with the coffee and orange juice also unlimited). A rooftop terrace offers city views and fresh air, and when you’ve bonded with fellow guests over board games, you can join an organised pub crawl or free daily walking tour. Private rooms sleep up to four en suite; dorm pod beds come with USB charging and mood lighting.
Rooms: Dorms from €15 (£13), bed only.
Best for self-catering stays: Merrion Mews
This former three-bed coachman’s cottage (which sleeps six) has been restored by the Irish Landmark Trust, so expect heritage detail rather than out-and-out luxury. A staircase leads up from the courtyard (still occasionally used by the Irish police’s Mounted Unit) to a country-style kitchen and bedrooms with wood panelling, flowery wallpaper and antique furnishings. It’s ideal for cosying up around a wood-burning stove in winter.
Rooms: From €440 (£375). Two-night minimum.
Best for historic touches: Hyatt Centric The Liberties Dublin
At this city-centre four-star, stained glass lobby partitions echo the windows of St Patrick’s Cathedral; there are daily deliveries from local institution Mannings Bakery; and a corridor gallery highlights treasures unearthed during construction, including a 12th-century pair of sandals. Standard rooms are generously sized, if a tad generic, and there are smashing city views from corner rooms 502 or 517. For vistas of the Dublin Mountains, opt for the top-storey rooms at the rear.
Rooms: Doubles from €120 (£104), B&B.
Best for art enthusiasts: The Merrion
Set within four Georgian townhouses, The Merrion faces off against some equally imposing government buildings. Works by Irish artists including Jack B Yeats, Mainie Jellet and Sean Scully hang on the walls. And if the paintings look good enough to eat, try the afternoon Art Tea, whose sweet creations are inspired by the collection. Splash out for a meal at two-Michelin-star Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, or order cocktails and casual eats from the cabanas in the sculpture garden.
Rooms: Doubles from €295 (£256).
Best for grandeur: The Shelbourne
The Shelbourne is where the Irish constitution was drafted. It’s mentioned in James Joyce’s Ulysses. It’s where Princess Grace of Monaco and then-First Lady Michelle Obama stayed and where actor Peter O’Toole reputedly bathed in Champagne. The grande dame is run by Marriott these days, but a refurb has left the Dublin DNA intact — thanks to tweaks to spaces like the Lord Mayor’s lounge and the addition of a new terrace and the 1824 Bar (complete with painting of Bono on a winged horse). Rooms facing St Stephen’s Green have the best views and are priced accordingly.
Rooms: Doubles from €349 (£303), B&B.
Best for location: Trinity Townhouse
Across the road from Trinity College, and a red brick’s throw from Grafton Street, this newly refurbed townhouse in the heart of Dublin feels like a home from home. Split across two heritage buildings on either side of South Frederick Street, a country-classic feel lets original features sing alongside the obligatory Nespresso machines, and there are dinner packages laid on at neighbouring Dunne & Crescenzi — a glass of wine with a plate of impeccably mixed Irish and Italian antipasti is perfect after a day’s traipsing around Dublin.
Rooms: Doubles from €80 (£70), room only.
Best for quiet escapes: Pembroke Hall
This former home in the Dublin 4 district has been rebooted as a gorgeously appointed getaway. The 12 en suite rooms see Danish designer Helle Moyna wrap a Scandi sensibility around restored fireplaces, fanlights, cornicing and other details, plus there are ethereal pops of colour via paintings by Irish artist Lola Donoghue. Clever details include bespoke steel-framed wardrobe-and-desk combos, or coiled wool throws and cushion covers nodding to Irish motifs. There’s no bar or restaurant but plenty of options a stone’s throw from the hotel.
Rooms: Doubles from €105 (£91), room only.
Published in the June 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)
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