Loving the craic in Temple BarBy Alice Murphy
August 05, 2008
Dublin is as cultured and cosmopolitan as any European city, according to ALICE MURPHY.
She stayed right in the middle of the busiest district and explored the historical Irish capital
The days when a visit to Ireland was synonymous with shamrocks and violin playing are long gone.
In fact, even the modern fashion for stag and hen parties in Dublin does not do justice to the beautiful city.
I stayed in the Temple Bar Hotel in Fleet Street at the heart of the Irish capital’s cultural district.
Despite having been to Dublin before, I had never stayed in Temple Bar and had slight reservations about whether it would be too noisy at night.
Temple Bar is definitely a hive of activity, but it worked well because we were so close to all the action and, although the hubbub of the street outside was never far away, in the hotel you felt you could return to an oasis of calm at any time.
The room was huge, with a box of Butler’s chocolates on the bed.
It was full of welcoming touches, such as a bowl of fruit on the table and an umbrella for those days where the Irish weather acts as a reminder of why the country is so green and lush.
The bed was just made to lounge about on and the cool creams and reds of the room were calming.
Our room had huge windows to look down on the busy street below.
The bathroom was well equipped, spotlessly clean and spacious as you would expect from any hotel of this quality, but touches like posh shampoos and shower gel set it apart.
We began the day with a hearty breakfast, where we enjoyed the varied buffet of croissants, soft soda bread, cereals, yoghurts and fruit.
This was followed by a traditional Irish breakfast of bacon, sausage, tomato, egg and soda bread with tea.
The breakfast room was filled with snatches of conversation, overpowered by the clinking of cutlery on the plates.
It was the perfect start to a day of sightseeing.
Dublin Castle was a quick stride up the road, where you could learn about the ancient side of the city (and even see the Viking city walls) as well as the modern state rooms.
Grafton Street was just minutes away, and we sipped away hours in Bewley’s Oriental Tea Rooms by people watching and eating delicious food, before hitting the shops.
O’Connell Street was less than five minutes further with its combination of old and new architecture, from the bullet-hole strewn General Post Office to the Spire of Dublin, a 120m tall metal spike constructed in 1999.
By the time we returned to the hotel we were more than ready for dinner.
The food in the hotel restaurant, The Terrace, was lovely.
I had seafood and potato chowder, where fat prawns and juicy mussels lurked under a delicious potato broth.
Mike went for a chicken and wild mushroom terrine with red onion marmalade.
To follow, we both went for the pork fillet wrapped with proscuitto ham.
The combination of proscuitto ham and pork could have been too much, but the crispy garlic potato and soft gratin balsamic meant that it worked brilliantly together.
We finished off with a glass of wine and I managed to find room for a refreshing French lemon torte with raspberry syrup.
Mike opted for the ‘modernised’ apple and blackberry crumble with Bailey’s custard.
Truly satisfied, we retired to Busker’s bar next door, owned by the hotel, for a few more drinks.
There are plenty of sights to see around Dublin as well. The city may not be as beautiful as Barcelona or Rome but it oozes history.
No trip to Dublin would be complete without a trip to the Guinness factory at St James’ Gate.
As you approach it the smell of malt fills the air in the cobbled streets to remind you that this is still a working factory (that’s if the hundred foot high steel vats and constant to and fro of lorries laden with kegs wasn’t enough).
An informative tour is rounded off with a free (after a 14 euro entry fee) pint of Guinness in the Gravity bar high above the city so you can enjoy a pint of the ‘black stuff’ with a view.
The Jamesons’ brewery is a short walk away and we combined both to form a slightly hazy afternoon.
Dublin is a cultured and cosmopolitan European capital – spend the day visiting galleries, museums and churches and round it off with some international cuisine.
But after a dinner in Gallacher’s traditional boxty house, eating stew wrapped in a potato pancake and Dublin Bay oysters why you’d want to stray from Irish food is beyond me?
- A three course dinner with a glass of wine in the hotel restaurant was 23 Euro 95.
- A double room for two people is 99 Euro.
- For more information, see www.templebarhotel.com