History, gastronomy and a bit of the famous Irish blarney make Dublin a must-visit destination, says Vicky Mayer
I first visited Dublin when I was 22 and, like everyone at that age, got lost in a sea of historic pubs with endless pints of Guinness lined up at the bar. Back then everything seemed fun, but the city felt grimy and a bit run down. Fast forward two decades and I hardly recognise it. Buoyed up by its young, energetic residents and an endless stream of visitors up for the Craic, Dublin has become one of Europe’s coolest cities.
Whether you’re on a return trip or a first timer, it pays to stay in the city centre where the main attractions like Grafton Street and Trinity College are within walking distance. Arriving quickly from London on an Aer Lingus flight, we checked in at The Merrion, a beautifully appointed gem of a Georgian hotel, set over four 18th century townhouses, on elegant Upper Merrion Street.
For a city centre hotel, the rooms are large with super comfy beds plus the added attraction of two amazing on-site restaurants – the Michelin starred Restaurant Patrick Guilband and the less formal, but equally good, Cellar Restaurant, where we dined on melt-in-the-mouth Irish lamb on our first night there.
Even if, like us, you’re only there for a couple of days, you’ll find Dublin easy to navigate. The cobble-stoned streets of famous Temple Bar are a good start with great pubs like the Long Hall and Palace Bar. You’ll also be able to catch a boat here, which will take you down the Liffey, but savvy visitors are now heading to the city’s cool new design and dining district around William and Drury Streets. Here you’ll find some great little interior shops like Industry and The Irish Design Shop, not dissimilar to those found in Stockholm and Copenhagen, plus some great bars where it’s easy to rub shoulders with Dublin’s fashionable new inhabitants.
Savvy visitors are now heading to the city’s cool new design and dining district around William and Drury Streets. Here you’ll find some great little interior shops not dissimilar to those in Stockholm and Copenhagen
However, if it’s gritty authenticity you’re after, don’t miss a trip to the world famous Guinness Storehouse. Inside this imposing Victorian building you’ll get to see how the drink is made before stopping off at the end of the tour at the rooftop Gravity Bar for a glass of ‘black velvet’.
Back in the city centre we copied the locals and had dinner early at Coppinger Row, a great little restaurant just off south William Street. Like many places in Dublin, they offer great set menus at very reasonable prices if you eat between 5-7pm. Judging by the busy dining room, full of locals, we knew we were on to a good thing.
While my 22-year-old self would have stayed up partying all night, after dinner I sensibly steered my partner back to the Merrion so we could end our trip in the atmospheric 18th century Cellar Bar. Two Jamesons down, we were already planning our return trip to this magical city…
Stays at The Merrion (+353 1 603 0600) start from €295 per room per night based on two sharing with a full Irish breakfast. Aer Lingus flies three times a week from Heathrow to Dublin