Hidden behind the immaculate façade of four Grade 1 Georgian townhouses, lies arguably Dublin’s – if not Ireland’s - most stylish city hotel, The Merrion. One of the houses, No. 24, was the home of Lord Mornington and his son, Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, is said to have been born there.
Opened in October 1997, The Merrion features 123 guest rooms and 19 suites - furnished true to their Georgian roots and invisibly, benefit from the latest technology. There is a choice of two restaurants – including the fabulous fine-dining Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud that holds two Michelin stars - and two bars, a fully equipped health and fitness centre - The Merrion Spa & Health Club and two private gardens.
The Merrion brought a new level of luxury hospitality to Dublin with the city’s other properties playing catchup ever since. Its service, facilities, amenities, staff and location make it Dublin’s premier address.
Sited opposite the Government Buildings, the home of the Irish Government in the heart of Georgian Dublin and the city’s commercial and business districts, The Merrion is close to the leafy walks of St Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square and just a 20-minute drive from Dublin Airport.
The National Gallery of Ireland and the National Museum is a five-minute walk from the hotel whilst the shopping district of Grafton Street and Dublin’s renowned Trinity College, home to one of Ireland’s best-known treasures, The Book of Kells, is a similar distance away.
The vibrant riverside district of Temple Bar with its bars, boutiques and restaurants, is around a 20-minute stroll from The Merrion.
The classically elegant and spacious air-conditioned rooms in The Merrion’s contemporary Garden Wing overlook either the gardens or the streets of Dublin.
The elegantly styled box hedges and rose arches of the period gardens complement the interior décor with echoes of gracious Georgian style in the authentic design of the fabrics and furniture. Expect a soft blue or grey paint palette, crisp linen sheets, King or Queen-sized beds and opulent Italian Carrera marble bathrooms with Asprey toiletries.
The one and two-bedroom Garden Wing Suites are ideal for family stays and can be configured with king or twin beds. There is a dining table seating four with ample seating in the form of a sofa and armchairs.
The Main House’s original rooms and suites, which overlook either the Government Buildings or the gardens, capture the grandeur of a past age. Some are vaulted with delicate Rococo plasterwork ceilings; others are graced with magnificent original marble fireplaces. All feature a similarly restrained Georgian-inspired colour palette.
Each guest room features the latest technological requirements including docking stations, laptop-sized safes, and multi-channel satellite television. Nespresso machines, a daily newspaper and mineral water are included as standard. For guests with disabilities, there are three fully accessible, adapted rooms.
There are two quite special suites offered by The Merrion. The Lord Monck and Lord Antrim respectively - are located on the upper floors of the former No. 22 and No. 23 Upper Merrion Street. The Lord Monck Suite overlooks the private landscaped gardens whilst the Lord Antrim Suite, the Government Buildings – both are drenched in natural light.
Both suites feature decorative Georgian fireplaces and painstakingly restored original rococo plasterwork with the curved, boat-shaped ceiling of the Lord Monck Suite adorned with exquisite motifs of flowers and birds.The Sitting Room in the Lord Antrim suite offers a dining room table seating four and a seating area whilst the Lord Monck Suite offers a small, second room which can be used as an office, gym, dining room or single guest room.
For those seeking privacy and extra security, The Merrion Penthouse in the Garden Wing has its own private lift and an imposing mahogany front door. With a living space of around 260 square metres (2,800 square feet), split over two floors with a separate 95 square metres (1,000 square feet) rooftop terrace - complete with a cedarwood hot tub - The Merrion Penthouse is one of the country’s largest hotel suites. Decorated by noted Irish designer, Aidan Cavey, in a classically elegant style that reflects the understated elegance of the hotel, the suite features three guest rooms, a well-equipped kitchen, a music room, drawing and dining rooms and a study.
As one might expect of a five-star property, The Merrion offers an extensive range of services and facilities including a swimming pool, spa, gym, parking, business services and Merrion bikes for exploring Dublin’s fair city.
The Merrion Spa and Health Club is an oasis of calm and comfort, where wellness takes centre stage, offering a welcome refuge from the busy city streets of Dublin. The Spa features Biologique Recherche for a clinical approach to skincare; ESPA’s luxurious therapies and products, Hair by Ciaran Nevin, physiotherapy by Milltown Physiotherapy to treat any injuries or problems and a bespoke fitness and nutrition program devised by the Club’s personal trainers.
The 18 metres infinity swimming pool, set in French limestone with a spectacular trompe l’oeil mural depicting a neo-classical landscape, is highly popular with hotel guests. For those maintaining an exercise regime whilst travelling, there is also a well-equipped gym and an Italian marble steam room to relax after that workout.
For business travellers, the hotel provides a 24-hour business centre and an impressive suite of six salons for high-level business meetings.
The Merrion is family friendly with its own safe outdoor space and the playground of Merrion Square just a stroll away. The hotel offers a babysitting service, cots and Miss and Master Merrion menus created especially for guests aged 12 and under.
You can smell The Merrion from the street – it is the delightful and memorable scent of burning peat from the hotel’s fireplaces. And then the friendliness and warm welcome of The Merrion’s staff which set this hotel apart. It is evident from the moment you enter the front door, walking through to reception, the Drawing Rooms and those wonderfully landscaped gardens.
The Merrion’s interior retains the grace and elegance of the 18th century with the rococo plasterwork and cornices of the original drawing rooms in the Main House restored to their former glory. With log fires, hand-picked antiques and views out onto the formal 18th century landscaped gardens, the public areas of the hotel also play host to the property’s private art collection thought by many to be one of the country’s most important collections of contemporary art.
Great care has been taken to restore these buildings to their original Georgian glory whilst ensuring that 21st technology is easily available if discreet. Original antique furnishings vie with an eye-wateringly good 19th and 20th century art collection which can be viewed throughout the public areas of the property – a private collection on a national standard.
Even the gardens, designed by Jim Reynolds, the noted Irish landscape artist, re-create the feel of the 18th century complete with box hedges, water features, pathways, statuary and obelisks.
Thoughtful touches abound from the in-room Nespresso machines, mineral water and newspapers offered as standard to the property’s own bicycles, coming complete with Merrion helmets, tote bags, rain macs and an optional home-made Merrion picnic tucked in the basket.
There is a choice of hospitality options at The Merrion from the casual gastro-pub menu served in The Cellar Bar to the modern Irish cuisine of The Garden Room and the fine-dining experience at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, the first restaurant in Ireland to win two Michelin stars. When weather permits, The Garden Terrace is open for seasonal al-fresco lunches and drinks.
The Cellar Bar, located in the original 18th-century wine vaults of The Main House, offers an informal menu devised by Executive Chef Ed Cooney using the best of Irish ingredients. Choose from oysters, smoked salmon and Irish stew as well as old favourites such as home-made pastas, club sandwiches and salads.
Ed also oversees the menus of The Garden Room, a relaxed, informal restaurant with a menu designed for sharing tastes and flavours. Expect artisan food producers and small plates of Liscannor Crab brioche baps or truffle and parmesan arancini with fresh Irish sourdough baked downstairs every morning.
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud occupies the ground floor of the former 21 Upper Merrion Street, built in the 1760’s by Lord Monck. This two Michelin starred establishment overlooking The Merrion’s gardens, offers contemporary Irish cuisine with French classical roots and is acclaimed both nationally and internationally.
The secluded and intimate cocktail bar, No. 23, enjoys the feel of a private club, offering tempting signature cocktails, a flute of champagne or a glass of wine from L’Abeille de Fieuzal, the hotel chairman’s own vineyard in Bordeaux. As you might expect, there is also a fine whiskey-tasting menu.
The Art Tea served in The Merrion’s Drawing Rooms has become a must do on any Dublin-based itinerary. Miniature sweet creations are served, inspired by the work of J.B. Yeats, William Scott, Louis Le Brocquy and others. These delectable picture-perfect treats, accompanied by a range of teas and coffees, can be enjoyed whilst reviewing the hotel’s art collection. There is also a Vegan Afternoon Tea offered if preferred.
The Merrion produces an annual Environmental Plan setting out its objectives, targets and planned actions to help protect and enhance the environment for future generations. The hotel aims to minimise waste and reduce water consumption where possible and to reduce, reuse and recycle resources consumed by the business wherever practical.
Food provenance is integral to the hotel. Seasonal freshness matters as does sourcing local suppliers and producers to keep any food miles low and the carbon footprint to a minimum.