Friday 18 August 2017

Limerick: Georgian soul in a historic Irish city

Thomas Breathnach discovers a period hotel wonder in Limerick's historic Pery Square

Limerick's King John's Castle
Limerick's King John's Castle
Suite Affair: Period décor at No 1 Pery Square.
Thomas Breathnach

Thomas Breathnach

Thomas Breathnach discovers a period hotel wonder in Limerick's historic Pery Square.

Limerick's lady luck has checked in. Tourism numbers are positively bouncing thanks to the City of Culture influx while one hidden hotel is welcoming a steady stream of overnighters to the country's most unsung period precinct. I made a whistle-stop stay at No 1 Pery Square and discovered a boutique bolthole at the heartbeat of the city's urban revival. 

CHECK-IN

Dating from 1838, No 1 Pery Square is located in arguably Ireland's best preserved Georgian neighbourhood. "Why isn't this place a national treasure?", I pondered, rattling my suitcase along a townhouse terrace of perfectly Duluxed doorways. Inside, the hotel's air was ambient and intimate, with receptionists Eileen and Elaine full of jovial banter rather than any "Sir/Madam" faux formalities. "Oh! You're in the Lady Barrington! My favourite room, honestly!", beamed Elaine, before ushering me up along spiralling series of landings. Lady luck it seemed.

SUITE TALK

Named after a former No 1 resident, Lady Barrington herself was in the finest of fettle. One of the hotel's four period rooms, it featured a luxury leaba (handcrafted in Limerick) surrounded by sympathetic antique furnishings and mighty sash windows overlooking the red-bricked courtyard and garden. Original features like the ornate fireplace lent a sense of high-end homeliness rather than cookie-cutter class, while a marvellous en-suite, stocked with organic Voya products, simply gilded the room's lily.

SPA FACTOR

Guests have complimentary access to No 1's in-house spa where an impressive thermal suite panders to every pampering from a snooze room to a coal bunker sauna. The organic treatment menu spans most niche bases from "Girls Day Out" mani/pedis to Italian hot-towel shaves for men, making the spa a popular local haunt for Munster Rugby meterosexuals and die-hard Carrie Bradshaws.

CULTURE ON THE SHANNON

Limerick's King John's Castle

I'd feared Limerick's City of Culture calendar might just offer me paper maché on stilts but even for my midweek stay I had the pickings of numerous events; from an interactive screening of Priscilla Queen of the Desert to a historic soirée at a pop-up Georgian museum. I opted to see the play The River, however. After all, it's not every day you get to experience a live performance on a barge. Before a cosy micro-audience seated in the boat's kitchen, local playwright Helena Enright performed an excellent monologue act, regaling us with tales of life in Limerick of now and yore.

DINING COMPLIMENTS

I made last orders at Brasserie One, the hotel's ambient French-inspired resto which was buzzing with fresh-from-graduation UL students, celebrating in style with their families. Highlight was my Hereford beef cheek; a hearty autumnal delight served with honey-roasted carrots and garlic mash. Breakfast the next morning was equally pleasing; the atmosphere a little looser, as Aussie and US guests discussed life and Scottish independence over their Full Irish. With a flight to catch, my grilled mustard kippers went down well, but alas all too quickly. I'd have to make Limerick's Georgian quarter a destination again - if the excellent No 1 Pery isn't truly the destination in itself.

STAYING THERE:

B&B rates at No 1 Pery Square start from €67.50pps. The hotel is currently running a special offer for couples - the deal includes a one-night stay with welcome tea and scones, side-by-side massages in the hotel's spa, followed by a glass of fizz for €149pps (oneperysquare.com).

CULTURE FIX:

Limerick's City of Culture year calendar remains pretty chock-a with over 20 events running daily. Upcoming eclectic highlights include The Unlucky Cabin Boy musical to be performed at the Lime Tree Theatre and the Polish Arts Festival at the Limerick City Gallery of Art and The Hunt Museum (limerickcityofculture.ie).

TRAVEL TIP:

Just around the corner from No 1 Pery, sits Canteen; a Limerick pop-up café to rival the boho foodie haunts discovered in the likes of Melbourne or Brooklyn. Try pairing their flat white with the cafés huevos habaneros and onion bread come brunch o'clock.

MORE INFO: discoverireland.ie

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