Two Victorian landmark buildings provided the starting point for this impressive Dublin hotels build, and part of the former Allied Irish Bank was glassed over to create a dramatic lounging area, The Atrium, which has a huge palm tree feature and bedroom windows giving onto it like a courtyard (effective, although rather airless).
The magnificent Banking Hall now makes a stunning conference and banqueting room, and the adjacent Teller Room is an unusual circular boardroom - while the vaults have found a new lease of life as The Mint, a bar with its own access from College Street.
It's an intriguing building, especially for those who remember its former commercial life, and it has many special features including the business traveller's 'Westin Guest Office', designed to combine the efficiency and technology of a modern office with the comfort of a luxurious bedroom, and the so-called 'Heavenly Bed' designed by Westin and 'worlds apart from any other bed'.
For the ultimate in luxury, a split-level penthouse suite has views over Trinity College (and its own private exercise area). Very limited parking (some valet parking available, if arranged at the time of booking accommodation).
Fitness room. Conferences/Banqueting (250/168); business centre, secretarial services, video conferencing, broadband wi/fi, laptop sized safes in bedrooms.
Rooms 163 (17 suites, 7 junior suites, 67 executive, 163 no smoking, 19 for disabled, all no smoking). Lift. 24 hour room service. Room rate about €499 (max 2 guests). Children welcome (under 12s free in parents room, but €45 for roll away bed, cot available at no charge, baby sitting arranged, Kid's Club).
The Exchange Restaurant & Cocktail Bar:
An elegant, spacious room in 1930s style, the restaurant has a welcome emphasis on comfort and simply oozes luxurious style. Everything about it, from the classily understated decor in the rich tones typical of the Art Deco period to the comfortable carver chairs and well-spaced, beautifully set up tables, says quality.
On arrival you can sit at the cocktail bar to look at the menus and have the cocktail offering explained - the cocktail list is quite something and, like everything else here, promises something different.
And, in the Guide's experience, that promise very definitely follows through onto the plate. The choice of menus is in itself impressive, whether you choose to dine from the pre-theatre menu; Dine in Dublin menu; Daily Catch menu; à la carte; or even the Sunday Brunch menu. Although there is surprisingly little specific reference to provenance, Fabrice Bartholin's carefully compiled and refreshingly pared back menus are based on a philosophy of quality and simplicity.
This is particularly evident in the Daily Catch menu, which not only changes daily depending on which fish is best, but has also departed from the usually complex repertoire of fish dishes, instead allowing diners to choose two sides and one sauce from six or seven listed examples, to accompany their simply cooked fish. The idea is to let the quality of the main ingredient speak for itself - and it succeeds very well in that, through well-executed and stylishly presented dishes that are a real pleasure to savour.
Equally, warmly professional and well informed staff provide the matching standard of service that ensures a memorable meal - the whole experience is very enjoyablet, from the five homemade breads, offered in a flower pot with a choice of butter and excellent dips, to the delicious desserts.
A large wine list offers 7 white and 8 red wines by the glass, carafe or bottle (€ 27.50 to € 43.50; no vintages with these wines), also 4 reds and 4 whites by the half bottle, and 3 dessert wines. No tasting notes (except on one page of Premium wines, with prices to match) but interesting notes are given on all the grape varietals from around the world. Reflecting the restaurant's popularity as a special occasion destination, there are ten champagnes and sparkling wines listed, rising to Crystal brut 1999 - at a not very recessionary €360.
Breakfast is also served in The Exchange and Sunday Brunch is quite an institution - and, like the pre-theatre and Dine in Dublin menus, offers particularly good value.