One of the chief joys when traveling is visiting a world-class, historic city for the first time. That first time you set out to explore a metropolis, is like the morning after a snow fall. The virgin snow stretches out as far as the eye can see, just awaiting your footprints and the mark you will make. That promise of adventure and wonder is one of the best feelings in the world. Of course, the tired satisfaction of coming back to your hotel in the evening after walking many miles, having visited every attraction on your list is a close second.
Getting the chance to finally visit Dublin before EIBTM this year was amazing. It is a beautiful and compact city, with enough history and culture to satisfy and excite even the most jaded of travelers. Dublin is a city that was originally founded as a Viking settlement and sits at the mouth of the river Liffey. Today, it is the largest city in Ireland, the area is home to just under two million people. The city center is eminently walkable, with most of the main attractions within a walking distance of no more than twenty minutes. It is one of the bastions of literature, with many famous authors hailing from Dublin, including James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw, Jonathan Swift, William Butler Yeats, and Bram Stoker. The Dublin airport was remarkably efficient, and busses will drop you off downtown for just 13 euros round trip.
The heart of the city is St Stephens Green, a large park in the center of the city. This reminded me of Central Park in New York, but without the scourge of New Yorkers sullying it. On one side of St Stephens Green is what is undoubtedly the best hotel in Dublin, and one that is easily in contention for one of the top ones in Europe, the Shelbourne. This 265 room historic hotel is a Renaissance hotel and has the best location in the city, bar none. From here, it was an easy and quick walk to any place in the city. The rooms have just been refurbished, and the hotel looks amazing. I had a group of about 200 people here and had nothing but rave reviews on the service and hotel. One of the rooms at the hotel is actually where the Irish constitution was signed in 1922, and this room can be used as meeting space by groups. The service was top notch, almost every time I walked through the lobby, I was greeted by name by the concierge or front desk staff. If you need overflow rooms, the Fitzwilliam or Merrion hotels are easy walking distance from the Shelbourne. The hotel is luxurious and upscale, but also extremely warm and inviting. I loved staying here and cannot wait to return. Yvonne Donohue is the DOS there and will do what it takes to earn your business. I cannot speak any higher about any hotel than I do about the Shelbourne, and encourage you to instantly shortlist it for any group you have looking at Dublin.
Shelbourne Hotel and the Constitution Room at the Shelbourne
On the other side of St Stephens Green is the Conrad Dublin, a 191 room luxury hotel. A bit further that direction, is the Doubletree Burlington, one of the largest convention hotels in the city limits. This hotel has 501 rooms and a ballroom of 22,500 square feet.
A five-minute walk from the Shelbourne is Trinity College. The highlight here is the Old Library, one of the coolest buildings in the world. Housing over 200,000 books, this is a breathtaking building, especially for a certified book lover like me. This can also be rented for groups to have receptions or dinners in the evening. Truly one of the most stunning buildings I have been to in a long time, this is a definite must see when visiting Dublin.
Old Library at Trinity College
Right next to Trinity College, is the 163 room Westin, with meeting space for about 75-100 people. This hotel is nice, and the location is excellent.
The lobby of the Westin Dublin.
Between Trinity College and the river Liffey, is the very impressive Temple Bar area. This area has dozens of pubs and restaurants, and at night the energy in this area is electric. Most venues have live music, and there is not a more pleasant way to end an evening than having a drink at one of the authentic pubs in Dublin.
Dublin has two impressive cathedrals, St Patrick’s and ChristChurch, both of which date back almost a thousand years. St Patrick’s is on a wide park, and well worth a visit. ChristChurch was the more interesting one to me. This one had a crypt below it that stretched the entire length of the church, another place that can be used for dinners or receptions by groups. It also had a belfry, where I got to ring the noon bells, something I had no idea that I had always wanted to do until I was given the chance to do so during my tour. Both are about a ten minute walk from the Shelbourne. Next to St Patrick’s is the Radisson Blu Royal, and 150 room modern hotel with ample meeting space for about 100 guests. Dublin Castle is also in this area, another must visit while in town.
St Patrick’s Cathedral ChristChurch Cathedral
The Guinness Storehouse is an easy 5 minute taxi ride from the main part of Dublin, or a 20-30 minute walk if one is so inclined. This is an awesome place, for both individuals or as a group activity. Part museum, part shrine, this can hold up to 2,000 people and was fascinating to visit. You learn about the history of Guinness as well as having one of the best vistas of Dublin from the eighth floor gravity bar. They teach you how to pull the perfect pint of Guinness (which takes exactly 119.5 seconds, and uses both carbon dioxide and nitrogen). I am not a beer drinker, but this place was a must visit. Groups love it as an offsite venue, and it is close enough to the hotels to not need exceedingly long transfers. The food was awesome here, I had the beef stew, which was one of the best meals I had in the country.
Another five minutes afield was probably the most interesting place I visited, at least as far as learning the history of Ireland and Dublin, Kilmainham Jail. Amazing place where leaders from the revolution and the civil war were held and executed. A must see if you want to really delve into the history of the area. Right across from the jail is a 150 room boutique Hilton hotel.
In closing, I found Dublin to be a city I will look forward to returning to time and time again. It was safe, clean, easy to walk, chock full of history, and some of the most friendly people in the world.
Until next time, I remain your intrepid traveler and dedicated hotel nerd, duty bound to collect as many passport stamps as humanly possible.
Dublin at night over the river Liffey
**Guest Written by Timothy Arnold, CMP, CMM – Regional Vice President of HPN Global