For a city with a population of just over 1.1 million people, Dublin offers a truly eclectic and diverse experience that many larger cities fail to replicate. From the cobbled streets of the Temple Bar neighbourhood, well-known for its lively nightlife, to the historic Dublin Castle and iconic Dublin Bay, as well as countless cultural institutions, leading hotels and restaurants, The Fair City has firmly established itself as an essential destination for discerning travellers.
Dublin boasts the best of old and new, thanks to a thriving tech and finance ecosystem. High-profile firms including Google and Twitter call the city’s Grand Canal Dock, or ‘Silicon Docks’ area home. While the more than 400 year old Trinity College Dublin and neoclassical 18th century Custom House building provide a historic backdrop.
Until recently, travelling through Ireland to visit historic sites and one-of-a-kind natural wonders required journeys through disconnected rail stations or winding roads in a state of disrepair. Today, thanks to extensive roadwork projects that connect Dublin to the cities of Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway, even day-trippers can experience the best Ireland has to offer.
Refined and contemporary cuisine
Inside the five-star Fitzwilliam Hotel resides fine dining restaurant Glovers Alley by Andy McFadden. Refined contemporary cuisine is served to guests in a decidedly elegant space overseeing the lush greenery of St. Stephen’s Green, the largest of the city’s main Georgian garden squares.
Anchored by French-influenced dishes, the lunch, dinner à la carte, and tasting menus are light, full of flavour and plated beautifully. Leading Irish and select international farmers and food producers have been chosen to ensure the utmost quality of dishes is achieved.
Lamb is sourced from the heart of Comeragh Mountain in County Waterford, prawns are from Dublin Bay and duck is directly from Skeaghanore in County Cork. Stand-outs from the tasting menu include a beet ‘tartare’ dish, which is sprinkled with hazelnut, mustard and watercress, followed by a light dessert consisting of grapefruit, velvet cloud sheep’s yoghurt, honey and lime.
Internationally renowned museums and hidden cultural gems are just moments away after stepping out of Glovers Alley. Hailed by ‘The Irish Times’ as “the best museum experience in Dublin”, The Little Museum of Dublin richly illustrates the history of this storied city and its people, covering everything from the impact of U2 to the Easter Rising in 1916.
Further along the cobbled streets sits the National Gallery of Ireland, National Library of Ireland and National Museum of Ireland, allowing travellers the chance to visit these grand collections without much walking.
Housed in a surprisingly expansive vaulted basement in central Merrion Street, Pearl Brasserie retains a sense of old-world grandeur and is clearly unlike what many expect a conventional Brasserie to offer. The best seats in the restaurant are the cosy alcoves that manage to feel private without bordering on claustrophobic and include fish tanks built into the walls.
Menus consist of modern French fare that alters throughout each season to make sure only the finest ingredients are used, with influences of Mediterranean and Asian cuisine also being found in a number of dishes. Local seafood, including Dublin Bay prawns, and meat-based options form the basis of the dining experience at Pearl Brasserie. Since opening in 2000, Pearl Brasserie has picked up many awards, most recently ‘Chef of the Year 2017’ in the Georgina Campbell Awards. The organic salmon with Asian bouillon, rice noodles, pickled cucumber, spring onions and sesame seeds provides a perfect counterbalance to the crab meat with mandarin gel, horseradish, cucumber and avocado mousse, with both options making a visit to the city worthwhile.
Located in the city centre, inside the International Financial Services Centre, The Address at Dublin 1 offers the best of Dublin’s business and entertainment districts. Opened in 2017 as a hotel-within-a-hotel within the established North Star Hotel, The Address is a high-tech luxury property, featuring rainfall showers, marble bathrooms, intuitive lighting and room controls and high-end in-room coffee machines.
A separate check-in desk and private lift access makes the visitor experience smooth. A unique feature of the Premier rooms at The Address is the Club Lounge. This exclusive area is available 24 hours a day and offers a complementary continental breakfast, daily newspapers, coffee and snacks, which can be eaten in the provided roof-top terrace offering stunning views of the city.
While there are countless dining options nearby, guests are well-catered for in the hotel. From the casual McGettigan’s Cookhouse & Bar, stylish Parlor cafe and workspace, relaxed The Place group get-together area and renovated The Cellar breakfast space – visitors are spoilt for choice.
Dublin hotels cater for virtually every taste and budget, thanks to major construction and hotel conversion projects in recent years. The modern five-star Marker Hotel in the Docklands area of the city may have only opened in 2013 but it has quickly made a name for itself as a leading contemporary hotel, while The Westbury Hotel provides a more classically elegant experience and is well-located between Trinity College and St. Stephen’s Green.
Design lovers can peruse bijou independent stores on Drury Street in the Creative Quarter and select from an array of hand-made goods. Industry & Co is Dublin’s foremost design store and offers distinctive furniture, homeware, gifts and lifestyle products, as well as an in-store cafe to grab a spot of coffee or snack. Just down the road from Industry & Co is their sister shop, Barn, which sells unique children’s gifts.
The best way for high-end fashion seekers to explore the finest luxury offerings is to walk around Grafton Street and stop off at any of the international designer brands and iconic department store Brown Thomas. Aptly nicknamed the ‘Harrods of Dublin’, the 12,000 sqm store contains a world of menswear, womenswear and homeware products set over four levels, with boutiques for Prada, Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Gucci also residing in this designer oasis.
Since the 2008 financial crisis crippled the capital, the Celtic Tiger has sprung back to life and a newly energised city now welcomes guests from around the globe. Dublin’s rich heritage and progressive outlook continue to drive this forward-thinking city into the rarified list of leading destinations in Europe.