Weekend Away: Brooks Hotel, Dublin
It’s funny how even the best-laid plans can come unravelled. I was really looking forward to a weekend of pure pleasure and relaxation in the capital, experiencing Dublin as a place to go for fun rather than work.
Then, out of the blue, my father rushed to hospital in the capital for what turned out to be a quadruple bypass operation.
The fact that, with all this going on, I still had a very pleasant weekend is a testimony to just how professional the staff and services at Brooks are.
Room to book
One of the main advantages of Brooks Hotel is the fact that it is so central. Close to Grafton Street’s Luas stop, I got out to visit my father and was back in time for tea.
Standing at the window of my deluxe suite as evening descended, I could see the lights of George’s Street and, with the window open, hear the chatter from the Asian Market, which was doing some last-minute business a few doors down.
You get the feel of a busy city hotel here — at night, this sense was deliciously noirish.
The room mirrors this feeling of old world meets new: if it wasn’t for the plasma TVs and DVD players, you could be in the Dublin of Behan.
Step one: locate the bath. No trouble there — it’s the size of a tug boat and where it should be, in the bathroom.
Step two: turn on the water. Some hotel rooms have controls which look like they belong on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise; not so here.
Step three: take bag of complimentary bath salts and sprinkle generously into the steaming water.
Step four: put something soothing on the radio (each room in Brooks comes with a lovely, vintage model transistor, to keep in with the aforementioned 1950s noir vibe).
Step five: ease yourself into your bath. Reading material optional. Glass of bubbly from room service? Why not?
My god-daughter Samara joined me for dinner in Francesca’s, Brooks’ restaurant.
I am often amazed at how, for no obvious reason, a meal can surpass the sum of its parts and become a night to remember.
Perhaps it was due to the agreeable lighting in Francesca’s (not so dark you had to fumble about to find your food, not so bright you felt you were being interrogated by your dinner guest) or the pleasure of being served by a true professional (Noel, our waiter, knew every component of every meal on the menu).
The food was certainly just what the doctor ordered, particularly after the day I’d had: Samara dined on rump of lamb (€23), which melted when touched with a knife, and I could not resist a plate of gourmet bangers (€16) — exquisite handmade sausages on a bed of creamy champ, all adorned with an onion gravy my mother would have been proud of.
True comfort food.
The meal was perfectlycomplemented by a Mâcon-Lugny Chardonnay (€32). We couldn’t have been happier.
What to do
So much to do, so little time. The Museum of Modern Art was a mustsee, as the Tate Modern in London is one of my wife Deirdre’s favourite places in the world. We weren’t disappointed.
I think Dublin Zoo is so cemented into the consciousness of the Irish that it cannot fail to raise a kind of childhood delight, and this trip was no different.
Nightlife is well catered for too: my daughter Marnie, Samara and I went along to the Olympia on Saturday night to see Ross O’Carroll-Kelly’s new play, ‘Between Foxrock and a Hard Place’.
Almost as funny as the antics on stage was the number of Ross O’Carroll-Kelly clones in the audience. The terrible thing was, I couldn’t work out if they were being ironic or not ...
Brooks has no parking, but you can leave your car across the road in the Drury Street car park for an overnight rate of €8 (from 5.30pm to 10am).
A deluxe suite can be booked for ¤80 per night, per person sharing as part of the hotel’s winter specials, which end on December 31.
A couples getaway, with two nights’ B&B, a €50 voucher for Brown Thomas, a glass of Prosecco before going shopping, and a special whiskey tasting in the hotel and tour of the Jameson Brewery, costs €219pp for a deluxe suite; €189 for a classic room.
Oh, and my Dad is back home and doing fine.
Brooks Hotel, Drury Street, Dublin. 01-670 4000; brookshotel.ie.