Travelling to Dublin on business? Discover why the Irish capital is worth missing that last Friday night flight home for with our city guide to Dublin
The five-star Merrion is universally regarded as Dublin’s best hotel, an accolade cemented when the Obamas eschewed ambassadorial digs to stay there on their 2011 visit.
The hotel – knocked together from four Georgian townhouses, numbers 21-24 Upper Merrion Street – boasts the largest private art collection in the city (so vast, guests can rent museum-style audio guides at reception). The stately rooms feature stout beds and Italian marble bathrooms, while No 24 was where the Waterloo-trumping Duke of Wellington was born in 1769. Meanwhile, guests can also lounge like a Roman emperor in its Tethra Spa or eavesdrop in on Taoiseach-related gossip (the Government Buildings are directly opposite) at breakfast.
Should expense accounts not permit the Merrion’s €450-a-night-plus (£322) tariffs, try sampling its famous afternoon tea – the pastry chef even correlates his confectionery creations to the art hanging on the rococo walls.
Where to eat in Dublin
If you need any proof customer confidence has returned to the Irish economy, you need only look at one of Dublin’s most expensive eateries, the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, which recently reported its best trading year in its 34-year history. While its French-inspired fare such as Connemara lobster ravioli and roast Brittany squab pigeon can provoke all manner of superlatives, the stock of Irish cuisine has never been greater either. Restaurants Chapter One, Winding Stair and tapas joint Fade Street Social all offer exemplary masterclasses in contemporary Irish cooking, with organic dishes such as poached Clarenbridge oyster and potted Dingle Bay crab with toasted soda bread.
What to see
Compact and walkable, Dublin offers superb on-foot constitutionals. If you have a couple of hours free, pace through Trinity College’s grounds (home to illuminated gospel Book of Kells) before ambling up perma-busy Grafton Street to St Stephen’s Green, admiring Georgian architecture en route. But locals will tell you to truly experience Dublin at its best, you’ll need to visit a pub. Get your business clients to recommend their favourite, but solo travellers would be advised to sup their Guinness at nightly folk music sessions in O’Donoghue’s. Just avoid the stag/hen-party-centric Temple Bar on a Friday or Saturday night.
“One thing I found frustrating about the tech scene [in the UK] was individuals who talked a lot of PR-speak to get themselves to the top,” says Digit Game Studios founder CEO Richard Barnwell. “That doesn’t work here. Nobody is impressed by somebody who can talk a lot. If you come across an Irish business conversation, if something can be said in three words, rather than 20, it will. The Irish way of doing business is frank and straight-to-the-point with no time for mucking around. It suits us, because it makes things more efficient… Be friendly and make sure you always take an interest in people’s families and what they’re doing.”
For the flight
We don’t recommend tackling James Joyce’s Ulysses on the short hop across the Irish Sea, but literary fans are spoilt when selecting destination-appropriate reading material, whether it’s Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, WB Yeats (Ireland is celebrating the 150th anniversary of his birth this year) or more contemporary authors Roddy Doyle and Colm Tóibín. For an insight into how political bungling led to the Republic’s recent economic troubles, read Fintan O’Toole’s Ship of Fools: How stupidity and corruption sank the Celtic tiger or Enough is Enough: How to build a new republic.
Sadly, the flight is too short to watch Dublin-based films My Left Foot (Daniel Day-Lewis’s incredible performance as writer and cerebral palsy sufferer Christy Brown) and A Man of No Importance (bus conductor Albert Finney struggles with his homosexuality in 1960s Dublin), but downloading emblematic bands Thin Lizzy, My Bloody Valentine, The Pogues (actually from London) and folktronica band Villagers should tee up a convivial day and night in the city.
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