Belfast Telegraph

TRAVEL GUIDE: The Fitzwilliam Hotel, Dublin

It took approximately 60 seconds on Google to confirm that the Fitzwilliam Hotel in Dublin would be the perfect place to spend a weekend in the Irish capital. The five-star hotel’s website revealed pictures of a Conran-designed luxurious haven in the heart of the city while those lucky enough to have stayed in the boutique hotel had logged on to review sites to rave about its location, the uber-cool design, the comfort of the rooms and the quality of the food.

I’d planned a city break with my mum and soon we too would be singing the praises of this special city hotel.We arrived in Dublin at Connolly station and a short taxi ride later we were at the Fitzwilliam located on St Stephen’s Green.

I’d already been to the Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast so I was looking forward to seeing what the hotel group calls ‘the sister’. I was not to be disappointed.

The cool reception displayed all the signs of being a design hotel with a cosy seating area around an open fire beyond which was a large reception area. Overlooking the reception was an impressive mezzanine floor where the Citron brasserie is located. But more of it later.

As soon as we stepped inside our bags were whisked away and would later appear in our quiet third floor room at the back of the hotel which boasted a garden view.And that’s one of the beauties of the Fitzwilliam.

While located right in the heart of the bustling city centre, the rooms are quiet and cocoon-like. Another plus point is the staff .Everyone, from the concierge to the restaurant staff, were so friendly and professional, which really is the icing on the cake when staying in such plush surroundings.

We could have been forgiven for holing up in our beautiful room or for indulging in a spa treatment (the hotel’s spa on the fourth floor offers a variety of massages and hair and beauty treatments). We could even have burned off some calories in the well equipped gym but as a wise woman once said (well, Carrie in Sex and the City) shopping would be our cardio.

Ah yes, the proximity to the shops. As another wise woman, property expert Kirstie Allsop, would testify: location is everything.The Fitzwilliam is at the leafy St Stephen’s Green end of Grafton Street, just a few doors down from the St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre.

After parting with too much cash in the shopping centre we nipped back to the hotel to deposit our purchases before making our way down Grafton Street, enjoying the carnival atmosphere of the street entertainers as we went.

We didn’t venture down the side streets of the pedestrian precinct to visit some of the quirky independent shops Dublin has to offer — after all, we had all of the next day to do that. And we had dinner in the Citron restaurant to prepare for.

As well as its cool bar The Inn On The Green, the Fitzwilliam has two restaurants: the mediterranean-style Citron and the Michelin-starred Thorntons.

Our meal in Citron was delicious: I opted for a chargrilled sirloin of beef served with mash and roasted tomatoes while my mum opted for a marinated duck, both washed down with a glasses of chilled white wine.

But as well as the yummyness of the food and the luxurious surroundings, it was the friendly service by the cheerful staff which sticks out in my mind. After a great night’s sleep we were back on the mezzanine floor where a hearty breakfast was on offer with choices ranging from a traditional fry up to fruit salads and mouthwatering pastries. We had a full day to explore the city further (i.e. indulge in more retail therapy).

I resisted the temptation to buy a pair of gorgeous Vivienne Westwood stilettos I found in one of the many trendy shops off Grafton Street. We also spent time browsing in Powerscourt Townhouse Shopping Centre and sampling the tasty cheeses in the famous Fallon & Byrne deli.

Later that evening, it was a case of literally popping round the corner from the hotel to the Gaiety Theatre on King Street — (see, location really is everything) where the hard to beat Riverdance was playing.

A delicious supper in Japanese favourite Wagamama across the street from the theatre signalled the end of our busy day. The next morning, after another mega breakfast, we left the Fitzwilliam relaxed and happy.

My only regret was not buying those beautiful shoes that I definitely don’t need. Oh well, it’s a good excuse to go back to Dublin. And I know exactly where I’d like to stay when I do.

Belfast Telegraph

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