When it opened over 20 years ago, the Four Seasons symbolised Celtic Tiger excess. Today’s InterContinental feels like a more nuanced “urban resort”
It’s just over 20 years old, but the palatial InterContinental Hotel has been through so much, it feels like a grand dame of Dublin hotels.
Debuting as a Four Seasons in 2001, the huge hotel was an instant, irony-free temple to Celtic Tiger Ireland. Set deep within D4, the OTT boom-time build nodded to the city’s Georgian and Victorian heritage while somehow trashing both; interiors were strewn with chandeliers, lavish suites and miles of marble; the infamous Ice Bar hosted a dizzying flow of developers, Champagne and glamour models. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
The hotel has since been acquired by Ireland’s MHL Collection (which includes the Westin and Powerscourt hotels), and today operates under franchise as an InterContinental.
The scale, chandeliers and Ice Bar remain, but it has been evolving and adding layers in recent years — refurbing its public areas and whiskey bar, for example, and rebooting its garden veranda and terrace during the pandemic. It felt like time to check in.
The rating: 7.5/10
The InterCon dubs itself “Dublin’s only true five-star urban resort”, and its portico provides an extravagant and slightly intimidating set-down (I vacuum our family Ford before arriving). A 221D Porsche was parked nearby, we were offered valet parking for €25 or self-parking at €18, and a doorman quickly arrived to take our bags.
Of course, staff are far too professional to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Stepping into the lobby, with its large vases of fresh flowers carrying your eye through to the lounge, receptionists and concierge were the epitome of friendliness behind face masks. We were checked in a jiffy, accompanied to the elevators, and given a welcome note outlining things to do in the area, from walks to city events (Dublin is described as 10 minutes away). 8/10
Pre-pandemic, the InterCon did a staggering volume of leisure, corporate, wedding and event business. It’s quieter now, but I liked the space and calm in its lounge, luxuriating over breakfast and browsing a surprising art collection (including Tony O’Malley, Orla de Bri and Blaise Drummond — ask concierge Valerie Keogh for the lowdown).
It still feels swanky and ostentatious, but the refurbed whiskey bar is a warm, classy nook; the lounge tasteful and airy, and the reimagined garden adds a new dimension for nice weather. There’s lots of room for distancing, operations feel assured and safe, and we started the evening listening to a pianist as young families, couples and other fellow guests glided between these elegant rooms.
Below deck are a small spa and two-lane, 14m pool, which felt chilly and dark during an evening swim (I also found the male changing rooms dull and clubby, with a boxed-away sauna looking onto the loos). The pool area sparkled more in daylight — refurbs are planned, I’m told.
I was also taken aback by the Ice Bar... in a good way. I’d expected Celtic Tiger flashbacks, but it has mellowed and settled with time — to me, the white marble, clean lines and textile art panels now feel storied and retro, an intriguing mix of design and Dublin lore. A reboot is being discussed, and the space definitely needs freshening up — but could they lean into the past life a little, too? 7/10
If you like space to sprawl in a hotel room, you’ve come to the right place. The InterCon’s 208 rooms are among the most spacious in the city, with entry-level ‘Classics’ starting from 42sqm, and suites stepping up to multi-room hideaways used by The Rolling Stones, Pink and Bruce Springsteen, among other celeb guests.
We stayed in a two-room suite overlooking the RDS and garden, with a king-size bed, beautifully crisp sheets and marble bathroom combining luxuries old and new. Huge TVs, a deep (though short) bath, full-sized iron and board and smart light on the vanity mirror were creature comforts of note, but the shower took a few minutes to heat up, and I’d love to see alternatives to mini-toiletries. 7/10
Guests can eat in the Lounge or Seasons restaurant, which serves a three-course table d’hote menu from €60pp with breads — quite reasonable for this level.
The service is lovely at dinner and breakfast — from the moment you’re led to your table to the wine recommendations, polite chats and invitations to relax as you please. I liked the room better in daylight, when natural light added a twinkle to the hushed grey-golden tones, and big, conservatory-style windows blurred lines between indoors and out.
Breakfast is a broad spread, if pricey at €30pp; dinner an opportunity to wallow in the fanciness of five-star service, with well-crafted care and no rush whatsoever. We tried a pumpkin risotto from the Lounge menu, and a medley of pickled and crispy beetroots, followed by pan-fried halibut with parsnip and vanilla, curry and cauliflower from Seasons. All were tasty and well-executed, with salted caramel and apple sponge pick of the desserts. 7.5/10
A winter sale offers 20pc off best available B&B rates. Stay two or three nights, and you can get a further 15pc discount.
Sandymount village is a 10-minute walk, with Bujo, Browne’s and the local pub making tempting stops. The famous strand is just five minutes further.
Dublin’s is a small but sublime family of five-stars — from the Shelbourne to the Merrion, Westbury, Marker and Dylan. To me, the InterCon still feels more like a brand, a property you could find in any city. But there’s a place for these resorts too, and this one is steadily becoming subtler and more thoughtful than its Celtic Tiger legacy suggests. Check in before the crowds (and sky-high rates) return.
B&B starts from €285 per room, while a junior suite with dinner and breakfast is on special from €450. Pól was a guest of the hotel. intercontinentaldublin.ie