For many of us Dublin creates images of a city steeped in history and culture, which of course is true. However, there is another side to this vibrant capital city that is so worth experiencing.
This weekend, we stayed in the Dean hotel on Dublin’s famous Harcourt Street. The location is perfect within short walking distance to the city’s glamorous main shopping streets and city centre stuff.
The experience worth writing about is the décor/vibe/contemporary escapism that this hotel creates. Witty signs outside the door invite you in, giving you a taster of what is inside. They have cleverly opened the downstairs space to create an open plan reception area that encompasses a small bar that transforms into residents lounge after hours. The style is beautiful. Industrial concrete walls are warmed with neon signs and plush leather seats. It is very dark, like all things cool, but very welcoming on a stormy October afternoon.
The best is yet to come! Checking in is a fuss free affair, with clever, hip staff offering a glimpse into how Ireland’s twenty somethings dress these days. The lifts are right in the centre of the open plan reception area to so poky corridors or wasted space.
Up to the room…wow! Not like anything this hotel fan has ever seen before. What meets you is a large room length window taking in the rugged Dublin skyscape. The hotel looks on to the gritty back side of Dublin’s beautiful Georgian streets which are both historic and fascinating. It took me the best of the two days to take in the old timber windows and beautiful red brick . All off in the distance but still close enough to imagine a century or two of normal day activities a million miles away from 2017 Dublin.
The shelves contained bits and bobs of things you might need while on your stay. A vintage record player and a John Coltrane, Snow Patrol and Iron Maiden vinyl. A weird choice to meet all tastes perhaps! The tv was massive and had Netflix which was very much appreciated. Condoms, crisps and a bag of jellies were all part of the mini bar. The bathroom had ultra cool metro station tiles and a huge shower that was appreciated.
We had dinner booked in one of Dublin’s top restaurants, Chapter One. It was perfect, as to be expected. Starter of artichoke with goats cheese and walnuts for me and a tuna dish I believe for my significant other. They were both light, delicious and perfect. The main courses the same. The deserts were outstanding with mine being the best chocolate mousse I have ever tasted. The Bordeaux Superior was excellent of course. I cannot fault it all. The storm Brian blew in as we ate unbeknown to us in the cosy cellar restaurant in our French wine buzz.
Out in the real world, the wind and rain were fierce so a stop in the traditional Oval bar on middle Abbey street was required to simply dry our faces and warm our bones. A quick brandy helped cut the food and warm the extremities. The pub has a great sign over the bar sating “ Established in 1822, rebuilt in 1916” There is a feast of Irish history in this part of the city backing on to Moore Street. This is where the Irish Rebels hid escaping the army during the 1916 rising. I believe you can feel the history in the walls, or perhaps that was the Brandy working!.
With tired feet and tired minds we made it back to the Dean hotel in one piece, in spite of the gale winds blowing. Ireland’s weather can blow away the cobwebs. We were excited about the piece de resistance with the Dean’s cool offerings and kept the best till last. The hotel has a rooftop bar and restaurant that has views only the Guinness Storehouse gravity bar could rival. We settled in with an Irish craft beer and took in the views both inside and outside the rooftop windows. The bar is one of the new places to be seen. Colourful cocktails and colourful people enjoying the DJ selected tunes. We felt right at home and yet somehow like we were watching it on our massive tv screen in our hotel room. So once the drinks were finished, we headed off to the coolest hotel room we had ever seen to watch Netflix. A great stay in a great hotel.
Admittedly the Dean might not be for everyone. I would recommend it to the young and the young at heart. Noisy neighbours, hipsters in the lobby and a lift that only stops at the suite levels all might put some off. But not us, we loved it and will be returning hopefully in the very near future.