Life Ireland

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Review: The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin

Dublin's grand dame is celebrating 190 years at the forefront of five-star hospitality, and she's right back at the top of her game.

Published 30/06/2014 | 12:46

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The Irish Constitution was drafted on the first floor of the Shelbourne.
The Irish Constitution was drafted on the first floor of the Shelbourne.
The impressive exterior of the Shelbourne Hotel.
The impressive exterior of the Shelbourne Hotel.
The bar of the Shelbourne
The bar of the Shelbourne

This is Dublin's grand dame, dahling... Dating from 1824, mixing old-school opulence with the business swank of Marriott's Renaissance brand, and set to star in a six piece RTE series this summer, the old girl is back at the top of her game.

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HIGHLIGHTS: To be ushered into the Shelbourne is to be ushered into a state approaching intoxication. The valet takes our car. A vibrant Louis le Brocquy tapestry hangs over the lobby fireplace. Smoked salmon nibbles are offered at check-in. The location is excellent, the spa a super addition, there's a cool little barbershop in the basement, and the Saddle Room restaurant has come on hugely in recent years, with head chef Garry Hughes overseeing pre-theatre, tasting and a la carte menus in a room full of luxurious nooks and crannies. Its intrinsic elegance, modern creature comforts, famous bars and classy staff would easily cut it in London.

LOWLIGHTS: Though hardly surprising for a five-star, incidentals do add up at The Shelbourne. Valet parking costs €25, a pint of Guinness via room service set us back €10.30 including tray charge and the buffet breakfast is priced at €29. Some of the upper floors may be due a touch-up, too – we noticed several scuffs and slivers of tiring wallpaper, and the iPod dock didn't take iPhone 5s (now almost two years old). On balance, however, the premium is worth paying for that exquisite feeling of simply being looked after in The Shelbourne.

CONCIERGE'S CHOICE: We asked for old and new bar recommendations, and the concierge delivered by tipping Doheny & Nesbitt's and O'Donoghue's, as well as No. 37 on Dawson Street and the hip South William Street strip. Nice one.

ASK FOR ROOM NUMBER: Queen rooms offer the best rates (albeit with the least space) and Heritage Park View rooms come with smashing views over Stephen's Green. However, guests looking for a treat should go straight for one of the 19 suites named after famous guests like JFK and Princess Grace.

GUESTS OF HONOUR: Michelle Obama and her daughters overnighted here last year, the Irish Constitution was drafted on the first floor, and famous guests have ranged from Charlie Chaplin to Charlize Theron. But our favourite story involves Peter O'Toole, who is said to have bathed in champagne during his stay. Hic!

RATES: The best of several specials on The Shelbourne's website has B&B from €190 per room (the hotel is 190 years old this year).

CONTACT: 01 663-4500; theshelbourne.ie

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