Tuesday 20 February 2018

Weekend Away: The Gibson, Point Village, Dublin

The Gibson Hotel
The Gibson Hotel
All rooms are have Irish-made Respa beds

Pol O'Conghaile

First impressions

You don’t get first impressions of The Gibson Hotel on arrival — you get them beforehand, in the now-ornothing ether of the internet, in the promotional bluster of developer Harry Crosbie, in the buzz and begrudgery surrounding the emerging Point Village on Dublin Docklands. Opening a four-star hotel that evokes an iconic guitar brand and a classic gin martini cocktail in the middle of a recession? Is that smart, or just plain stupid? From the moment I arrive, however, it’s clear that The Gibson walks the walk. A glassy, three-storey atrium rises with a wall of living leaves, and the third-floor reception is spacious, high-ceilinged and minimalist, spotted with pop art and smashing views over the riverside. So many Noughties hotels were over-designed, blinding guests with busy wallpapers, iffy art and arguing themes. This seems self-assured; a design hotel that knows what it’s doing.

The room

The Gibson has 252 bedrooms, all fitted out with Irish-made Respa beds and free Wi-Fi. I checked into 316, a standard double, and, clicking my key card into its slot, liked what I saw. Legless desks jutting from the walls, sprinkles of mustard (cushions, clothes hooks) and lime (backlit door numbers), flat-screen TV, laptop safes, and rain shower. Sorted. The funky touches continue throughout (a wine wall in the restaurant; a Pattie Boyd print of the young Eric Clapton in the bar; long corridors broken up by elongated, soft-lighting fixtures). Plus, everything is brand new, so it all carries that snappy, fresh-from-the-packet feel.

The pamper factor

The Gibson doesn’t have a pool, but two copper Jacuzzi baths are due to open this month, allowing guests to sip champers and take in the views of Dublin and beyond. Watch out for outdoor spaces too, including a heated smoker’s terrace. Cocktails, anyone? The service is good. While I was checking in, the receptionist got into a rambling query regarding reservations on the phone. My visa was left in the machine, and I sensed one of those annoying, rank-the-phone-above-theperson- in-front-of-you moments. But she realised what was happening, put the caller on hold and apologised sincerely. A good save.

The food

The Coda Eatery hadn’t opened when I stayed, so I set up camp in the pretentiously- titled Hemidemisemiquaver Bar (named after the 64th note in music). Set on the third floor, offerings include a woodland mushroom and leek risotto (€12), and a Gibson Burger served on ciabatta bread with spicy paprika sausages and home fries (€14). There’s also a dim sum menu, which sounds affected, but actually suits the space — a large, high-ceilinged room wrapped around an open courtyard drawn indoors by a ’stone rug’ running between the two.

The activities

Dublin’s Big Wheel is right outside the front door and really worth a spin. I took my kids up on a recent visit to the city centre and we had a whale of a time, spotting the River Liffey, the Sugar Loaf and Aviva Stadium (not to mention 50 billion containers in Dublin Port) from the giddy heights of our carpeted pod. A family ticket costs €23. If you stay over a weekend, check out the Point Village Market too; its stalls sell everything from vintage clothes to fancy cupcakes.

The downside

I love the idea of the Point Village, but it remains a work in progress. The Big Wheel and the O2 are the real deal, but Point Square is littered with truck containers, temporary fencing, wandering cables and wheelie bins. Also, The Gibson’s ground floor lies empty. Unoccupied retail space has an offputting aura. Harry Crosbie has built it. But will they come?

I’m also a guest annoyed by the ongoing trend for unbundling hotel charges. It makes for lower room rates, sure, but it also means silly, Ryanairstyle extras. I booked a €99 room, but it was only on the phone that I learned parking costs ¤14 a night and continental breakfast €11 (even if I just had a slice of toast). It’s possible to stay for €99, but I’d say few people do.

Otherwise, the air-con was rather loud (though easily turned off), there was no bath in my room and my view was of old warehouses, apartment blocks, cranes and a railway yard. Overall, though, I’m definitely gunning for The Gibson. Great cities need brash, distinctive hotels, and the more Dublin gets the merrier.

Harry Crosbie’s gig can comfortably take its place alongside the Dylan, the Fitzwilliam and the Morrison. Sure, it’s cocky. But so is rock ’n’ roll.

The damage

Standard doubles cost from €99.

The details

The Gibson Hotel, Point Village, Dublin 1. Tel: 01-681 5000; gibsonhotel.ie.

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