Weekend Away: D4 Berkeley, Ballsbridge
In 2005, the legendary Berkeley Court in leafy Dublin 4 sold for an eyewatering €380m to developer Sean Dunne. It was a record at the time.
Destined to be razed for a 37-storey skyscraper, today its future hangs in the balance and it has reverted to its former existence, as the D4 Hotel.
This blocky edifice only starts to impress once you step inside its spacious lobby, complete with generous amounts of gold paint and deep carpets. Reception is perfectly polite and we’re checked in without delay.
We’re upgraded to a deluxe suite on the top floor, complete with bar, living room, massage chair and Jacuzzi bath. The views below are an eyeful, albeit without the iconic Aviva stadium in sight.
Ornate coving, a chequered marble floor entrance, gold-coloured taps and his and hers sinks all add to the comfort factor.
It is only when I sit down for a moment to soak it all in that I realise something isn’t working. There are ornate mahogany tables juxtaposed with lockers and a coffee table that would be more at home in an Ikea catalogue.
The bar has all the lights and mirrors you could wish for. The only problem is the fridge is empty, with just a few sachets of instant coffee and tea accompanying the bowl of fruit and bottled water.
Huge photos of New York city seem out of place. The duvets are thin on the bed.
The pamper factor
It’s limited enough. There are no designer unguents or robes, but the staff are utterly professional throughout in dealing with any little query.
There is no pool, gym or spa on site, but guests have access to an Energie Fitness gym and pool in the nearby Oval, which is no more than five minutes away (¤10 per session.)
Treatments are also available in the neighbouring Ballsbridge Inn hotel.
Our three-course dinner (€25) got off to a shaky start, with slices of brown bread that I’d still be chewing if I’d persevered with them. But my fishcakes starter went well with pickled cucumber.
My wife had deep-fried brie and salad, which was served exactly as you would hope — crunchy on the outside, hot and gooey on the inside.
Our mains were smoked haddock on a trio of peppers with rocket, and a rib-eye steak with caramelised onion and mixed vegetables (with a €4.50 surcharge for the steak).
We got a side of potatoes which we didn’t need as there was more than enough in the dishes themselves.
Dessert was a shared chocolate brownie, which our server kindly halved while at the same time doubling the ice cream. My kinda waiter.
All the while, a pianist trotted out the classics on a piano, and, despite the lack of hub-bub in the restaurant, the atmosphere was congenial, helped along by a fine New Zealand Riesling.
Breakfast (€13 if booked online) was a buffet with the usual mix of grill, fruit, cereal, yogurt and bread. Eggs were cooked on request and the only disappointment was the awful dilute concentrate they called orange juice.
What to do
The hotel’s location is its biggest selling point, in the heart of posh D4 and the shadow of the Aviva. The city is also within easy reach, just a 2km spin into St Stephen’s Green.
For first-timers, a stroll down nearby Raglan and Clyde Roads provides a perfect opportunity to spy on some of the city’s most salubrious residences.
We were surprised as we returned to our room on Saturday night to meet two hoody-clad young men brandishing beer cans coming out of the lift. No crime in that you say, but it didn’t do much for the hotel’s image, which was once synonymous with exclusivity. This is the obvious flip-side to rate-slashing.
From Sunday to Thursday, you can pick up a double room for as little as €69 a night. Not bad for D4. Add on at least an extra €10 for weekend nights.
A deluxe suite like ours costs an extra €60. Parking comes as a sting in the tail. We arrived at 7pm and left before 1pm the next day and paid €26.50 for the privilege.
D4 Berkeley, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. Tel: 01-6684468; d4berkeley.ie