Smallin size but big in character, Dublin has creativity in
spades - as evidenced by its prolific scribes, tech-heads and
imaginative artists past and present. Today, the city's hunger for
originality explodes not just as rich cultural pickings but also in
an innovative entrepreneurial scene, a double-headed allure that's
seen the city's population swell as techies and creatives decamp to
the Liffey's banks.
The popular European city-break destination has long pulled in
visitors enamoured by its well-stocked bars and welcoming
inhabitants. Its success has bred the Guinness Storehouse, the stag
dos and the shamrock-dressed frivolity, but we'd venture that one
has to dig deeper to discover the city's true character.
Pass through the capital's contemporary and historical centre,
eyeing up Dublin-Georgian architectural elegance as you venture
down towards the river, and you'll encounter Liffey-side addresses
- from fringe theatres to quirky cafés - that offer an alternative
view of the Irish capital. In recent years, the restaurant scene
has had something of a homegrown renaissance, picking up on the
creativity that ripples across this buoyant city, as well as the
warm hospitality of its much-loved pubs, to carve out a distinctly
European ethos, found in cafés, bistros and fine-dining joints
across its quarters. Likewise, many of the city's plethora of
independent bookstores and independent shops sit away from the
arterial thoroughfares. This is a walkable city, best explored on
foot, allowing you to dip into side streets with ease, discovering
all its quirks.
Portrait of a city: a complete guide to Dublin, Ireland
Hidden behind an ivy-covered door off Leeson Street, Number 31
is a modernist mews dreamed up by architect Sam Stephenson. An
aesthetically pleasing city retreat, its design is a masterclass in
contemporary style. Afternoons (and early evenings) are best spent
relaxing in the 1970s-inspired sunken living room in view of the
fireplace, cocktail in hand. The 21 bedrooms, spread across two
buildings, are all uniquely designed. Sam's Room, which gives off
hygge vibes, is always a popular pick.
Something of a Dublin institution, The Westbury is ideally
located for those in town for a weekend (or more) of exploring,
sitting off Grafton Street - Dublin's main shopping hub. Stop for
lunch at the hotel's 1930s-inspired eatery, WILDE, feasting on
dishes spanning superfood salads to chateaubriand. For something
more low-key, head to Balfes for a caffeine hit (or something
stronger); a cocktail at first-floor Sidecar is also a smart move.
There are 205 guest rooms, of which 27 are suites, offering
cavernous bathtubs, sumptuous bedding and captivating Irish art.
Splurge on the Presidential Suite, which comes with its own bar and
XL bathroom (private sauna and steam room included).
One for Dublin's cool kids, The Alex is a central boutique hotel
akin to London's buzzier stays - think Soho House or The Hoxton.
Bedrooms are spacious, finished with retro furnishings (that nod to
the 1950s) and works by local artists. Downstairs, a light-filled
co-working space (planted bam-smack in the middle of the lobby)
offers guests and the city's creative set somewhere to bash out
emails, charge up devices and sip on coffee from Steam Café. For
something stronger, head to The Carriage for a sharpener before
heading out for the evening.