Hard Rock International is celebrating its 50th anniversary, which feels like a good time to visit one of its newest hotels – a Dublin edition in Temple Bar.
I’ve always had preconceptions, and perhaps misconceptions, about Temple Bar. The cynic in me had almost dismissed the area as a flashy tourist trap, negating local interests for the allure of overseas visitors.
But after staying at The Hard Rock – which opened here in February 2020 – I can see a side that is trying to embrace Irish culture and music, not negate it.
A steady theme throughout the chain is of course the infusion of music into every aspect of your stay, but there is a huge Irish focus here, along with the show-stopping mainstream acts which adorn the walls of the reception, rooms and even the escalators and Rainbow Bridge connecting the two main areas of the hotel (it’s very Instagram-friendly – if you're into that sort of thing).
The rating: 7/10
Located on 18 Exchange Street Upper, the Hard Rock Hotel is on a corner of Temple Bar near City Hall. That leaves the action of Temple Bar close by, but also feels better for a sound night's sleep.
From the moment you step inside, the theme of celebrating legacy messiahs of rock is evident – memorabilia from acts such as Janis Joplin, Nirvana and U2 (of course) are enshrined on the walls of the lobby.
The Hard Rock name and branding clearly leans into fabled artefacts from a rock ’n' roll era of yesteryear, but there are some nods to pop – with a Beyoncé T-shirt and Justin Timberlake jacket from their Dublin concerts too.
Gatekeepers of 'real' music might wince at the inclusion of Timberlake alongside Kurt Cobain (one of his sweaters is on display), but widening the demographic for visitors makes sense.
After some initial confusion about rooms, we were greeted to a warm reception and told of the main features the hotel has to offer – namely the music-fused amenities and Zampas Bar & Restaurant. 7/10
My first thoughts when it comes to city hotels are: small and cramped. The Hard Rock's real estate defies that. The hotel seems well-staffed and someone is almost always on hand to assist with anything you could need.
It also has an undeniable sense of style. Opened a mere month before hospitality shut down due to the pandemic in February 2020, it still feels swanky and ostentatious and there is a lot of room for social distancing. 7/10
If you are looking for a modern experience on one of Ireland's oldest streets, you've come to the right place.
Having only opened its doors two years ago, the Hard Rock Hotel’s rooms and decor are modern and sleek. We stayed in a twin 'Superior' on the fourth floor and, instead of buttons and light switches, found touchpads for lighting and room temperature.
The celebration of musicians and artists continued – think works featuring Jimi Hendrix, The Edge or Phil Lynott on guitar – and the colour scheme is bright and contemporary.
Attention to detail is a key feature of the rooms – from the “Sound of Your Stay” playlist on the TV to the embroidered guitars on the pillowcase and the cushioned, clover-shaped headboard.
Our room did not come with a view and instead looked into a block of apartments which was the only downside of the experience. It may be worth requesting a view when you book, though rates can vary. 7/10
The food was the star of the show during our stay.
The hotel's bar and restaurant Zampas serves "Peruvian food and drinks with a distinctly Irish accent," according to director of sales and marketing, Stephanie Hayes. The South American flavours, allied to the zingy cocktails, create the perfect atmosphere for Saturday night drinks with the girls, or a large gathering of colleagues.
I opted for the chimichurri Irish chicken wings with grilled lime and coriander as a starter (€9.95), followed by a main of O’Flynn's smoked lamb tomahawks with yellow chimichurri sauce and roasted hazelnuts (€27.50). – 7.5/10
While the musical memorabilia is a clear Hard Rock calling card, the real winner for me was the exciting restaurant with solid Irish staples served with a spicy and invigorating twist. If you’re looking for a dinner that will leave you full to the gills but still wanting more, this is the place to be.
Music lovers will be able to get out and experience Dublin's most notable locations for the arts at just a stone's throw away. Just outside the door is the 3Olympia Theatre, while further up on Wexford Street you can enjoy the famous Whelan's (known to all music aficionados as the place to perform) and walk the streets where Glen Hansard’s Once was filmed.
Continue the musical theme by stopping by Rory Gallagher Corner in Temple Bar – look out for the replica Fender Stratocaster near the street sign!
Doubles start from €269 per night. Siún was a guest of the hotel. hardrockhotels.com