Dating back to 1852, this Dublin hotel has long had a special place in the hearts of Irish people - especially the clergy and the many who regarded it as a home from home when 'up from the country' for business or shopping in Dublin - largely because of its convenience to Heuston Station.
Since the early '90s, however, it has achieved cult status through its owners - Bono and The Edge of U2 - who have completely refurbished the hotel, sparing no expense. In general they have reflected the the hotel's original arts and crafts style whenever possible, although the recently re-launched restaurant (now Cleaver East) has taken a different direction.
Accommodation currently offers a combination of contemporary comfort and period style, with all the expected amenities including mini-bar, private safe, complimentary broadband and temperature control panels.
Public areas include the clublike, oak-panelled Octagon Bar, which is a popular Temple Bar meeting place, and The Study, a quieter room with an open fire.
Parking is available in several multi-storey car parks within walking distance; valet parking is available for guests.
Conference/banqueting (60/70); video conferencing on request; Secretarial service; Laptop-sized safe in rooms. Beauty treatments, massage, Therapy @ The Clarence (also available to non-residents). Children welcome (Under 12s free in parents' room, cots available without charge, baby sitting arranged). No pets.
Rooms 49 (5 suites, incl 1 penthouse; 21 executive, 4 family rooms, 6 no smoking, 1 for disabled). Lift. 24 hr room service, turndown service. Room rate about €340; SC discretionary.
Remember the elegant, spacious Art Deco dining room in The Clarence Hotel? Well, it’s gone! And in its place is an edgy, almost grungy new restaurant that aims to be the heart and soul of good food in Temple Bar.
The classic, clean-lined decor has been switched for a three-tier room with attitude. Dominated by a central bar with tower-like shelf that stretches up to an exposed beam ceiling, the dark, moody room is arresting and cool. Alongside oversized leather stools, long banquettes, mosaic floor tiles and chicken wire details there are bare-topped tables that hold little buckets of cutlery. The impressive windows are lined with angled cleavers, all suggesting a meat-dominated menu, which isn’t the case at all.
The project of two leading chefs, Oliver Dunne (of Bon Appetit) and Rory Carville (ex-Locks), the cooking brings together immense talent and creativity. The menu offers tasting plates, a concept that breaks with the traditional 3-course format. Portions are smaller than usual, and dishes arrive whenever they are ready. (Savoury plates cost between €7 and €14 apiece). This style of casual dining won’t suit everyone (your choice of a ‘starter’ may arrive after your ‘main’, for example, or your companions' dishes may all arrive first) but it is a fun way to share some delicious dishes.
The menu is packed with helpful allergen information although, surprisingly, there’s very little provenance given.
Seafood dishes are especially well executed and show off real skill and panache, while a simple dish like carpaccio of Irish Dexter beef with rocket pesto and 36-month Reggiano Parmesan showcases superb ingredients beautifully handled. More complex dishes, perhaps a piece of barbecued rare breed pork belly with tangy purée of apple and ginger, fresh apple and a pork scratching, deliver exciting flavours and textures.
Each dish is beautifully presented, on smart tableware, although some work better than others. The dessert menu, featuring just 4 deconstructed classics, is imaginative but won’t please purists. Nevertheless the buzzy atmosphere is fun, making it a great spot to sip cocktails late at night. The house special, a blend of Bacardi, elderflower, citrus honey, chilli and lemonade is a treat.
The staff are well trained in this hip new spot that feels like a slice of New York in the heart of Temple Bar. They provide first-name service that’s engaging and helpful, although busy periods can be a little hectic. Unusually, tables are allocated at 1 hour 45 minute slots, so a late booking means you can linger longer.
Noteworthy is the early bird menu, which offers the same dinner menu at a reduced price.