It seems like barely a month goes by without a new hotel opening in Dublin. But it's not every day we see one like The Mayson.
A combination of two listed buildings - an old townhouse that dates back to 1860, and a former warehouse - with a steel extension above, the hotel has an industrial style that feels authentic, rather than an interior-design cliché. There's plenty of brushed concrete, exposed beams and restored brickwork, and floor-to-ceiling windows fill the bedrooms with gorgeous light and views of the Liffey. In short? It's a stunner.
The rating: 8.5/10
Set on North Wall Quay, just around the corner from the 3 Arena in Dublin's docklands, this stretch of the city has seen little love over the last few years, but is now on the verge of a rebirth, with new buildings popping up in their droves. True, there's not that much to see on the doorstep, but the city centre is just a 20-minute walk (or short Luas ride) away.
It's early afternoon when I land in the door, and the lobby is already filled with people tapping away on laptops over coffees. At first glance, The Mayson makes a first impression similar to the Press Up Group's other hotels, The Dean on Harcourt Street and Ranelagh's The Devlin. It's sleek, cool and exuding the kind of hipster aesthetic mimicked by countless other spots. But peel apart the layers and you start to see plenty that makes The Mayson stand out. 8/10
There's a casual affability to the service, with an undercurrent of genuine friendliness - from the guy on reception to the cleaners I bump into in the hallways, everyone has a smile that doesn't feel forced.
As is often the case with Press Up projects, the look is impeccably slick - I loved the artwork peppered throughout the building, all of which was curated by James Earley, the artist also responsible for the art at The Hendrick, Dublin's new 'street art hotel' in Smithfield.
One big bonus for The Mayson is its gym. It's a hi-tech, fancy-pants affair in the basement - the machines are top of the range, and the classes top-notch. But if you feel like breaking an easier sweat, you can pop into the sauna and steam rooms, or have a dip in the relaxation pool. 9/10
There's a good bit of variety within the room types - entry-level small doubles (above) are the kind of 'pod' rooms designed to suit one person in town on business, or a couple on a budget. But just a few quid more (€40, on average) gets you a Super Room, where things are much more spacious (and stylish).
Located within the original warehouse building, these have the exposed brick walls and sliding sash windows that give off a Brooklyn loft feel.
But it's the Warehouse Suites that really hold the wow factor. In the corner of these rooms, overlooking the Liffey, is a giant, freestanding copper bathtub (below). I stayed in mine as the day turned to dusk, watching the sun set on the river as I soaked in bubbles. It was pure bliss.
The amazing views continue in the sitting room and bathroom - even the toilet has a full view of the quays (though you can, of course, close the curtains if you prefer).
In terms of amenities, there's a swish Dyson hairdryer, a supremely soft waffle bathrobe and a SMEG fridge stuffed with treats. I'd like to have seen more hooks in the suite for hanging towels and coats, though these may have been added since my visit. Another bonus? There wasn't a scrap of single-use plastic to be seen. 9/10
There's a casual vibe in The Mayson Bar on the ground floor, with a fab outdoor terrace out back (complete with a three-storey living wall).
Also on the ground floor is The Bottle Boy, which used to house the Vallence & McGrath pub (above). The space has been painstakingly restored and recreated, with original features like open fireplaces mixed with antique finds from Francis Street.
I love the nod to the area's history - the walls are filled with photos of the men who used to work here, curated by the East Wall History Society. The day before I was in, a man popped in for a pint to see a picture of his grandad on the wall.
Up on the rooftop is Ryleigh's, a sleek restaurant with views out over the city (rooftop restaurants are features of The Dean and The Devlin, too).
A wood-burning stove in the open kitchen means that steaks are a strong focus - I had a beast of a striploin (€36) that was perfectly charred and rare, which I happily doused in smoked garlic and rosemary butter (€3). The skin-on truffle and parmesan fries were good (€6), but the fried Brussels sprouts with maple butter (€5.50) were a little too sweet. 8/10
There are record players in all but the small double rooms, and a cool vinyl library in the lobby with local artists like SOAK, Saint Sister and Republic of Loose - borrow a few titles and take them up to your room for full hipster points.
Hop over the river for an excellent Thai massage in a converted canal boat. Massage on a Barge sounds bonkers, but it's one of the best massages I've had; €50 for a full body massage, massageonabarge.ie
The Press Up Group cops a fair amount of criticism in Dublin, but when they get it right, they really get it right. Visitors should note that there is a lot of construction happening around the hotel, which impacts views somewhat (for now), but The Mayson is stylish and comfortable, an Irish brand that is on a par with some of the best urban boutique hotels I've stayed in. Among the flurry of new openings in the capital, this one stands out for all of the right reasons.
Small doubles start at €140, with warehouse suites (sleeping up to four) from €490 per night. Contact (01) 245 7900 or themayson.ie. Nicola was a guest of The Mayson.
NB: All prices subject to availability/change.