Right in the heart of Georgian Dublin, opposite Government Buildings, this luxurious hotel comprises four meticulously restored Grade 1 listed townhouses built in the 1760s and, behind them, a contemporary garden wing overlooks formal landscaped gardens.
Luxurious public areas include two interconnecting drawing rooms with log fires and French windows (giving access to the gardens), which are immensely popular for business meetings or afternoon tea, and an attractive cocktail bar for evening time.
Irish fabrics and antiques reflect the architecture and original interiors with rococo plasterwork ceilings and classically proportioned windows - and the hotel owns one of the most important private collections of 20th-century art. Maintenance is immaculate - regular refurbishment of soft furnishings, for example, is so skilfully effected that it is completely unnoticeable.
Discreet, thoughtful service is an outstanding feature of the hotel and staff, under the excellent direction of General Manager Peter MacCann, are exceptionally courteous and helpful - there's a pervading sense of comfort and warmth that's especially welcoming and appealing: every guest is made to feel like a VIP from the moment of arrival - and, passing through the magnificent reception rooms, buzzing with chatter, tinkling china and crackling fires, a sense of immediate calm takes over. In a world of indentikit hotels with bland service, The Merrion feels incredibly special.
Beautifully furnished guest rooms and suites have sumptuous bathrooms (all with separate bath and shower) and all the extras expected in a hotel of this calibre, including broadband, cosy bathrobes and bespoke Irish Heather & Moss toiletries.
The hotel's Tethra Spa, with its Romanesque styled pool and marble steam room is predictably luxurious, and offers a compact gym and extensive treatment menu using E'Spa products.
Dining options match standards elsewhere in the hotel: choose between the elegant vaulted Cellar Restaurant (see below) and Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud (see separate entry), which is also on site.
Breakfast is especially noteworthy with exquisite baked goods, an excellent buffet and tempting menu cooked to order.
*The Merrion Hotel was our Hotel of the Year in 2008.
Conference/banqueting (60/96). Broadband wi/fi (free); garden; fitness room; spa; steam room; swimming pool; guides available for walking.
Rooms 142 (20 suites, 10 junior suites, 80 no smoking, 5 for disabled, ground floor bedrooms suitable for less able). Children welcome (under 2s free in parents' room, cot available free of charge, baby sitting arranged). Air conditioning. Lift. 24 hr room service, B&B €130-150 pps. Underground valet parking, €20 per night. Open all year.
The Cellar Restaurant:
Warm, friendly staff swiftly seat arriving guests at beautiful classically appointed tables in this elegant vaulted dining-room, and explain Executive Head Chef Eddie Cooney's well-balanced menus, which are changed daily and have a refreshingly straightforward tone.
With comfortable furniture and thoughtfully designed lighting and ventilation, this is a very relaxing room - and the philosophy is to source the best ingredients and treat them with respect in a simple style that shows the food to advantage without over-emphasis on display.
Seasonality is key and the signature dish of seared Bantry Bay scallops with pea purée, crispy pancetta and foie gras foam highlights their respect for quality Irish ingredients.
Pair this ethos with a good wine list (which offers an impressive amount of wines by the glass), attentive service, sound cooking and imaginative menus and you have an accessible introduction to The Merrion's high standards.
*In fine summer weather the hotel also offers dining outdoors on the terrace.
Seats 86; air conditioning; children welcome; L Mon-Fri 12.30-2, Set L €24.95; D daily 6-10, early D 6-7 Mon-Thurs €32.50, also á la carte. Sun Brunch 12.30-2.30.
The Cellar Bar:
Much more than an ordinary bar, this atmospheric series of vaulted rooms is everything you could wish for in the bar of an outstanding hotel.
In an interesting reverse of the usual procedure, an exciting wine list offering a remarkable range of wines, sherries, champagnes and dessert wines by the glass or bottle is the inspiration for lunch and evening menus devised by the hotel's Executive Head Chef, Eddie Cooney.
To the best of our knowledge, this is a new departure for an Irish hotel - changed times indeed.
Cellar Bar: open 11am-11pm Mon-Sat, food served 12-9.30pm.