Ireland’s attractions are undeniable, from the nightlife of Dublin and Galway and the tranquil south-east to the hearty north; a myriad sentimental songs and Hollywood romance have undoubtedly made a lasting impression. But behind the Blarney and stereotyping is a country genuinely rich in discoveries. It remains a country proud of its heritage and keen to preserve its old world charm – American visitors would expect nothing less. But Ireland is as equally keen not to be left behind as competition for tourist traffic becomes intense. This is perhaps no less in evidence than in the capital city, Dublin.
Nestled between the mountains and the sea on Ireland’s east coast, Dublin is a city famed for its free-flowing rambunctious nightlife. Drink, somewhat inevitably, is part of the Irish brand: the Guinness Storehouse, offering a potted history of the famous stout, as well as many opportunities to try it out, is one of the city’s top attractions, and well worth a visit, if only to experience the Gravity Bar on the top floor, with its panoramic view over Dublin.
The Temple Bar cultural quarter also brings in the tourists, who flock to experience its parade of pubs and take in the hyper-real atmosphere. Or there’s the more refined cultural pedigree of the city to discover: this is, after all, a UNESCO city of literature where visitors can follow in the footsteps of Leopold Bloom, hero of James Joyce’s Ulysses, and trace his journey through Dublin.
In addition to leisure-seekers, Dublin is keen attract the business traveller. During the economic boom, the city made increasing efforts to transform itself into the hub of a new services economy, as part of a 21st century makeover. Its redeveloped dock area, incorporating the highly impressive, architecturally stunning Convention Centre Dublin, catering for any kind of meeting, exhibition of convention, is a testament to the city’s future plans.
For a taste of history, the renowned Shelbourne Hotel, established in 1824 and located in the heart of the Dublin’s Georgian splendour, is the place to stay, and the place to be seen. Recently refurbished, but without abandoning its heritage, the luxurious Shelbourne boasts 265 rooms, including 19 suites, and views overlooking the famous Saint Stephen’s Green.
Offering great food, atmospheric bars and lounges, and service to match its five stars, with easy access to all of the city’s top tourist attractions as well as upmarket shopping in nearby Grafton Street, the Shelbourne can truly be said to represent the best of Dublin.
Bottom line: The Shelbourne is currently offering a special rate of €198 including breakfast, based on double occupancy, that will run for the remainder of the year.
How to get there: Aer Lingus from Brussels (Zaventem) to Dublin Airport direct starting at +/- €100
Shelbourne Hotel Dublin
27 St Stephens Green, 2 Dublin
T.+353(0)1 663 45 00