6-8 Wellington Quay, The Quays
A 19th-century building on the River Liffey, the Clarence is known for its impressive stained-glass windows as well as being the hotel of choice for musicians and creative types. U2’s Bono and The Edge first injected the old building with a dose of urban cool in 1996, and the improvements keep coming, most recently the addition of Cleaver East, run by Ireland’s youngest Michelin-starred chef, Oliver Dunne. A sociable stay for sure, The Octagon Bar—so-called for the Art Deco octagonal dome that caps it—still has one of the cozier snugs (the much coveted corner booth) in the city, while the basement Liquor Rooms keep the craft cocktails flowing all night. The rooms are fairly sparse, minimalist before the Scandinavians made it fashionable, yet all are equipped with the essentials, like the softest bathrobes you could imagine.
33 Harcourt St., City Center
Dublin's answer to Brooklyn, the Dean has been heartily embraced by Dubliners as a place for staycations, eating, drinking, and late-night anything-ing. The hotel is in the heart of the city's concentrated nightlife scene—fantastic if you love noise and action, not so much if you're looking for quiet (although each room does come equipped with headphones). Rooms are on the small side but smartly done with chevron wood floors, a muted palette, and big windows looking out on the rooftops. Each comes tooled up with a mini Smeg fridge, a Nespresso machine, a record player, and Netflix. The Dean is a great option for someone who wants to be in the heart of the urban mix, appreciates smart design, and is looking to take in the whole cityscape with their drink. And to those, may we recommend the glass-walled rooftop bar Sophie's.
The Marker Hotel
Grand Canal Sq., Grand Canal Dock
One of the newer kids on the block, the Marker brings a dose of modernism to predominantly Georgian Dublin. It was designed by Portuguese architect Manuel Aires Mateus to look like it was carved from rock (it does). Set in the heart of the regenerated Grand Canal Dock, wryly known as Silicon Docks thanks to the proliferation of tech companies, the location is hard to beat: The River Liffey is behind you, the docks in front, and the city center a short walk away. The interior is futuristic looking: undulating walls, lots of reflective surfaces, and spacious rooms comfortably done in a wildly bright color palette. You’ll look past the purple carpets once you hit the rooftop bar, with panoramic views over the city, cozy seats strewn with blankets to ward off the chill, and an excellent mixologist at the bar. The spa and gym are top class, and often host well-known wellness personalities—and the clean menu is a welcome relief from Dublin’s signature rich meat- and fish-heavy fare.
Merrion St. Upper, City Center
The grande dame of Dublin’s hotels comprises four beautifully maintained Georgian houses, each decorated in the style of the period with walls covered in 19th- and 20th-century art. The Merrion is small and feels more intimate than the city’s other hotels. Each of its elegant, stately rooms are done up in a Paul Henry–inspired neutral palette (the painting hangs in the hotel’s front hall), with 400-thread-count sheets, large marble bathrooms, and generous windows to take in the Georgian rooftops. Fireside afternoon tea in the drawing room (with scones covered in clotted cream) never disappoints, particularly on a cold, wet Irish day. The spa has a tempting treatment menu and infinity pool, and nearby, the two-Michelin-star restaurant Patrick Guilbaud and lively cellar bar make leaving the hotel a hard sell. But walk a few steps from the lobby and you’ll find St. Stephen’s Green, a dozen of the city’s best restaurants, and the National Gallery.
27 St. Stephen's Green, City Center
There is no better hotel in Dublin than the Shelbourne. Not only is the centuries-old building majestic inside and out, but the location on St. Stephen's Green means you can walk everywhere. The whole operation—the service, the amenities, the restaurants—is five star. Walking into the marble lobby, you have the buzzing No. 27 bar on your left and sumptuous Lord Mayors Lounge on your right with a roaring fire and classic afternoon tea. The rooms reflect the Georgian character and are outfitted with antique furniture, generous bathrooms, and the softest beds you could imagine. The suites feel akin to stepping back in time to a luxurious period residence, each window overlooking the park. The Shelbourne has borne witness to many of the more significant events in Irish history—the first constitution was drafted here by Michael Collins—and the famous Horseshoe bar is perennially packed with politicians and journalists sparring over pints of Guinness.
Balfe St., City Center
Sometimes hotels become part of a city’s social fabric—and the Westbury is just such a hotel. The upstairs gallery, with its Art Deco touches, open fireplaces, and sink-into sofas, encourages long, lazy afternoons working your way through afternoon tea or, depending on the kind of day you’ve had, moving onto a martini at the bar. The hotel knows how to set the mood— the music is never too loud; walls are clad with art by John Lavery and Louis Le Brocquy—but it’s at Christmas that the design really comes alive. That’s when the communal areas truly shine with the Art Deco glitz, while the guest rooms with their huge soft beds and neutral palette are pleasingly calm. There’s no spa, but the location, steps away from Grafton Street, is unbeatable.