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.
The Winding Stair
40 Lower Ormond Quay, The Quays
A hole-in-the-wall-style bookstore leads—via a creaking, winding stair—to a deliciously cozy mecca of Irish cuisine. Snag seats by the windows, and tuck into hearty bowls of Dublin Bay chowder while you look out over the Ha’penny Bridge and River Liffey. This is a relaxed place—wooden floors, simple tables, chalkboard menus, heaving bookshelves scattered throughout. The food and flavors are unexpected and complex, giving the spotlight to artisanal Irish producers. Try the crispy nettle polenta with creamed leeks and wild garlic, or go big with a slow-cooked minty lamb. Given that Ireland has some of the best dairy in the world, round off with a carefully composed cheeseboard for a great taster of the sheer variety of domestically made cheese (or for the sweet-toothed, a slab of Guinness cake and barley ice cream), washed down with a bracing glass of port. The wine list is fairly extensive, but what the Winding Stair does really well is beer. If you can’t decide, the staff is always ready to offer a nudge in the right direction.