Designer Dublin: A five-star city break at the Fitzwilliam
Short breaks in Ireland
The Fitzwilliam Hotel offers cosmopolitan calm right at the heart of the city, says a very relaxed Nikki Cummins.
Set the mood
As my head hit the pillow in the Fitzwilliam Hotel, it was hard to believe that only two minutes earlier my husband and I were battling the hustle and bustle of Grafton Street.
Set near the corner of St Stephen's Green and Dublin's busiest shopping street, we stepped into a lobby styled with Barcelona sandstone, splashes of purple and a slick, pewter-countered bar (the interiors were designed by Sir Terence Conran).
Staff and surrounds made me feel a million miles away from the stresses of city life - there wasn't a trace of the madness of outside. That's my favourite thing about this five-star hotel - you get the best of both worlds.
If you feel like some snappy, seasonal nosh, try the spring menu at Citron restaurant. Priced at €39 for three courses, it boasts dishes like crab with carrot, fennel and orange for starters, rump of spring lamb with artichokes and peas as a main, and profiteroles with salted caramel for dessert.
It comes second to Thornton's (the hotel's other, highly acclaimed restaurant), but is definitely worth a visit if you want to minimise the food miles between bed and table.
For another dose of decadence, try afternoon tea (€35pp) at the Fitzwilliam's Inn on the Green. It includes a dessert cocktail of Hendrick's gin, elderflower liqueur, lime juice, muddled cucumber and mint bitters.
My husband is an avid runner, so it was a real treat for him to have St Stephen's Green on the doorstep for a morning run. I thoroughly enjoyed the hot chocolate I was chugging while feeding the ducks as he lapped around (hotel staff are happy to provide bread - perfect if you have kids along).
Just steps away, the Little Museum of Dublin (littlemuseum.ie; €8) is another great way to spend an hour. It now has over 5,000 items on display, ranging from Joyce's death mask to Alfie Byrne's personal archive.
Check out South William Street, Dublin's best strip for coffee, brunch and people-watching. It has loads of great hair salons, or you could treat yourself to a cheap 'n' cheerful mani-pedi at Saoirse Ronan's favourite nail haunt, Tropical Popical.
Head around to EDEN bar and grill (edenbarandgrill.ie) for a cocktail or glass of wine before going back to your comfy bed. Their latest venue at 7 South William Street is described as "21st Century Belle Epoque", and a fab early bird has three courses for €26.50 (Sun-Weds all evening; Thurs-Sat 5:30-6:45pm). Keep your eye out for the great and good; it's rumoured to be a major celeb hotspot.
The Fitzwilliam doesn't have a pool - it would be nice to take a dip after braving a run or walk around the park. There's a compact gym on site which is quite basic, but they do offer a pass to a local gym, at €10, for gym bunnies.
Get me there
The Fitzwilliam (01 478-7000; fitzwilliamhoteldublin.com) is practically the most straightforward hotel in Ireland to get to because it's right on St Stephen's Green (above). The Luas green line is probably the nicest way to travel, but there are many buses that will leave you in close proximity.
An overnight stay with bed and breakfast starts from €249, with B&B and a four-course meal at Citron on special from €309 for two people.
See visitdublin.com for more.