THE SPA HOTEL REVIEW: THE MERRION HOTEL, DUBLIN
Review: Julie Ford
The Merrion is one of Dublin’s most luxurious 5-star city centre hotels. Just a few minutes’ walk from museums, pubs, galleries, restaurants and the shops of popular Grafton Street and the live Irish music scene of the Temples Bar area.
Overlooking the government buildings, the hotel is a collection of 18th-century Georgian townhouses – still holding all the charm and heritage of the original buildings, with pristinely decorated interiors inspired by Paul Henry’s Irish landscape paintings. The décor throughout is simply beautiful, right down to the polished wood panels and gleaming brass work in the lifts.
The Merrion is home to a substantial private art collection of 19th and 20th century Irish and European Art where guests can take a specially prepared audio tour provided by the concierge.
There are 123 guest rooms and 19 suites, including the Penthouse suite, favoured by Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen.
THE PENTHOUSE DINING AREA
123 rooms | 19 suites | Swimming Pool | Treatment Rooms | Steam Room| Free WI-FI | 2 Restaurants | 2 Bars | Garden Terrace
At the time of our visit the hotel was undergoing an extensive transformation project where an exciting extension is taking place which will include a brand new Thermal Spa, Garden Room restaurant, relaxation suite and 12 new residences. The construction was only in daylight hours and with the use of the state-of-the-art screening and soundproofing, we have to admit if we were not told about the renovation we most likely wouldn’t have known work was actually underway.
There are several room types available here including Garden Wing and Specialty Suites. We had a lovely Junior Suite overlooking the government buildings. Decorated in soft earthy hues and featuring a King Executive Club bed, complete with opulent 400 thread count Egyptian cotton bed-linen.
THE LORD MONCK SUITE
Our Suite had a separate sitting area with a sofa and two comfy armchairs, a coffee table (with a selection of various magazines), flatscreen TV (with cable and movies). There was a Nespresso machine, and well stocked mini bar full of premium spirits, Ruinart Champagne and soft drinks. A snack ‘bar’ was also available, filled with a whole host of sweet and savory treats.
The air-conditioning is individually controlled and WI-FI is free. There is also a laundry and shoe-shine service.
The Italian marble bathroom with 4-piece suite and separate double rainfall shower was nothing less than opulent. The lighting was great, with boarder illuminated, non-steam mirrors. The obligatory white fluffy towels and bathrobes and slippers were welcome and Asprey toiletries filled the shelves.
GARDENS AT THE MERRION
The room service menu was by far the most comprehensive menu I have come across with a mammoth selection – so much so, that if you wished, you may actually never need leave your Suite here at The Merrion. There is even a mouthwatering Night Owl Menu which is served between 10pm and 6am (as far away as you can get from the usual midnight-snack ham sandwich). Specialty hampers are available including Golfer To Go and Deluxe Picnic hampers which includes gourmet delights such as Lobster Tail with Crème Fraiche and handmade petit fours.
The turn down service of an evening was excellent we loved the fact slippers were laid out next to the bed awaiting our return each evening.
The Tethra Spa located in the basement level of the building offering a whole host of Espa and Darphin treatments from signature facials and world-wide inspired massages to specialty men’s treatments. We arrived at the spa and greeted at reception where we were showed to the changing rooms and given fresh robes and slippers, we then went back to the spa lounge area and filed out consultation forms before being taken to our treatment rooms.
THE TETHRA INFINITY POOL
I had a signature full body Balinese massage in which heated volcanic stones were used to reach all pressure points in partnership with warm Espa Tonic Body Treatment Oil – a blissful 55 mins. My partner had a Swedish massage using oils picked by sensory test – which was so relaxing it nearly sent him to sleep. The spa therapists were informative and quite clearly had strong expertise. When we finished our spa treatments we were taken to the relaxation lounge where we were brought portions of refreshing sorbet.
We reclined on the very comfortable spa loungers with views of the 18m infinity, under-lit, mosaic bottom swimming pool which was peacefully quiet. The spa is for hotel guest use only, which really does make for an exclusive and serene ambiance.
THE DRINKING & DINING
Breakfast was a lavish affair with local produce including O’Donavan’s pork sausage, Irish Bacon and Tommy Doherty’s black pudding. Irish Smoked Salmon and scrambled eggs or milk poached smoked haddock were also tempting options. Guests can also opt for sweet treats with Irish buttermilk pancakes with blueberry compote or banana and orange fillets. This is definitely the place to set you up for the day.
We had pre-dinner drinks in the beautiful oak lined Cellar Bar, which offers an expansive drinks list. You can also choose to sample a tipple through the day and night at the snug No 23 cocktail bar, featuring beautiful works of art from The Merrion’s private collection.
The hotel is home to Ireland’s only 2 Michelin star restaurant; Patrick Guilbaud, which offers a renowned mouthwatering tasting menu. However, we opted to dine at the Cellar Restaurant – with a menu of traditional Irish cuisine. Located again in the basement level, this was an interesting space with original vaulted ceiling which made for a cosy atmosphere with flickering candles adding to the ambiance. The staff were very friendly and extremely efficient, the service throughout was welcoming and nothing less than impeccable. We choose wine from the well-balanced wine list for the evening with a Sancerre Vacheron and a Cote Du Rhone.
To start, my partner had Pan-Seared Breast of Wood Pigeon with Sweet & Sour Pumpkin, Pumpkin Puree Crispy Bacon Crumb and Truffle Dressing. I opted for the Country Style Terrine; Ham Hock, Foie Gras, Black Pudding, Lardo and Pancetta, Raisin Caper Jam and Red Cabbage Coleslaw. For main we both had Roast Loin of Venison; Carrot and Parsnip Gratin, Sprouting Broccoli, Pickled Shallots and Juniper Jus. Both dishes were faultless and utterly delicious. For dessert, I had the Blackberry Baked Alaska with Spiced Blackberries while my partner opted for Warm Plum and Frangipane Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream and Sauce Anglaise which was amazing.
For after dinner drinks we headed out and about to the ‘famous’ Temples Bar, an area full of Irish bars with live music and a busting atmosphere. One the way back to the hotel we popped into O’Donahue’s Bar for a nightcap (or 3) and for a real taste of Irish authenticity – I may even have joined the band on stage with my Triangle musical accompaniment.
We look forward to visiting The Merrion again to see the exciting new concepts once they have been unveiled in early 2017.
SERVICE – all members of staff were friendly and welcoming and the concierge team were great at assisting us all throughout our visit advising on where to go and how to get there.
DINING – the food was delicious and service was slick
SPA – therapist expertise and treatment delivery was superb
ROOMS – the layout, décor and facilities were excellent
Junior Suite, €1015 per night, double occupancy.
Stays at The Merrion, Dublin from €295 per room per night based on two sharing with a full Irish breakfast.www.merrionhotel.com; +353 1 603 0600
Flights from Manchester to Dublin start from £20 with Ryanair www.ryanair.com
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