Saturday 23 September 2017

Weekend Away: Mespil Hotel Dublin

A double room at the Mespil Hotel
A double room at the Mespil Hotel
The hotel's sleek exterior

First impressions

The Mespil has put a flea in my ear long before check-in. Ads have been springing from my car radio, sticking chirpy impressions of a central location, competitive rates and friendly service like post-it notes to my brain. But can this three-star hotel really be as nifty as it sounds?

A 48-hour online sale nets me a double room for €59 — a good start.

The exterior is auspicious, too. Slotted into the streetscape near Baggot Street bridge, sleek touches such as the glassy extension of a ground-floor bistro create the expectation of a clean, confident and perhaps even classy stay.

The bedroom

I check into room 420, which turns out to have an impressive corner view of the Grand Canal and surrounding Georgian architecture.

The overall feel of the room, doused with mustard, aquamarine and burgundy tones, is functional and basic.

A queen-size bed is covered with a thin duvet and a nominal cushion, there’s a chunky TV, sepia prints of Dublin scenes, and a small table and chairs overlooking the view.

It serves its purpose, but there are some cheap touches too. The bathroom bears a hairline crack in the sink, a rust-like stain on the mirror and two large chips out of the door. There’s also a layer of dust inside the bedroom lamps.

The food

Online, I pre-book a two-course dinner for €20. It’s only when I arrive, however, that I’m told it will be in the bar — and not the bistro overlooking Mespil Road, as expected.

This is due to lower volumes of business during the week, I’m told, but I would have liked to know in advance. For €20, I’d rather eat without the competing strains of Sky Sports and piped music.

That said, my pan-fried chicken breast is succulent and juicy, and served with a nicely seared skin and a fine dollop of truffle-scented mash.

The creamy mushroom sauce is a touch stodgy (a skin forms quickly on it, too), but the menu also includes steak, salmon, vegetable stir-fry and Dublin coddle options.

If you don’t fancy the bar, the Mespil does decent room service menus (including stone-baked pizzas from €8.50).

The following morning, my fruit salad in the Glaze Bistro was ripe and juicy. My fry, laid out under heat lamps, filled the belly without tickling the tastebuds.

The pamper factor

Service can be hit and miss in threestar properties, so I’m relieved to find staff at the Mespil friendly and attentive. When I decide to skip dessert, a waiter offers to put a slice of lemon tart in the fridge in case I should want it later on — a lovely touch.

At check out, I point out that the hotel has forgotten to include a €5 glass of wine on the bill. “Don’t worry about it,” the receptionist says, waiving the charge. Net result? I leave the hotel smiling.

What to do nearby

No shortage of options here — Dublin is literally on your doorstep. I spent the day catching up on several exhibitions, including Steve McCurry’s mindblowing ‘World of Colour’ at the Gallery of Photography.

The Mespil is super-handy for the Aviva Stadium and, across the canal, you can stroll past a bronze sculpture of Patrick Kavanagh amid the “leafywith- love” banks he was so fond of.

The downsides

The Mespil exceeds most three-star standards. It offers free WiFi, chirpy service and an excellent location (it’s well reviewed on TripAdvisor too). It’s not memorable but it is one to remember if you’ve thrifty comforts in mind.

That said, it irks to find many scuffs and stains. Fraying carpets, dusty light fittings, neglected signage, smudges on the elevator ceiling, scratches on sockets and small carpet stains — you won’t hear about these on the ads.

The damage

My double room cost €59, a twocourse dinner (€20) and a full Irish breakfast (€10). With the booking fee, the bill came to €92.20. Room-only pre-pay rates at the Mespil are available from €65.

The details

Mespil Hotel, Mespil Road, Dublin 4. Tel: 01-488 4600;

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