Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Hilton Limerick

1 Aug 2007 by business traveller

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Stunning views, excellent meetings facilities and a great fitness centre lift this well-designed new-build above the usual rank of business hotels. It was one of two Hilton properties to open in Ireland in May (along with the Dublin Kilmainham) and, with cash and business currently flooding into the west of the country, seems almost guaranteed to be a howling success for the group.

WHERE IS IT? On the banks of the River Shannon, on a site which formerly housed the Jurys Limerick hotel. Shannon airport, Ryanair's secondary Irish hub, is just a 20-minute drive (24km) away.

HOW MANY ROOMS? 184, including 18 junior suites and one presidential suite.

ROOM FACILITIES With the exception of the suites, room size is standard at a generous 28 sqm. The view, however, varies considerably – rooms on the east of the building look out over the Shannon and the lush countryside to the Gante mountains, while those on the south-west look into an apartment block. All rooms are equipped with flatscreen TVs, a powerful hairdryer, tea and coffee-making facilities, a laptop-sized safe, and iron and ironing board. Bathrooms have separate bath and shower, and Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries. The junior suites are an Euros 80 upgrade on the corporate rate and are well worth the extra, with wrap-around decked balconies where you can enjoy the view from behind glass. The executive lounge on the fourth floor has a dedicated check-in (open 0700-2300), and offers snacks and drinks throughout the day, as well as free use of a PC. Surprisingly for a new-build, wifi is not available in the rooms, but internet access is provided by iBahn via ethernet cables at Euros 7 for one hour (€20 for 24 hours).

RESTAURANTS AND BARS Breakfast is served in the 100-seat River Restaurant on the ground floor, which is also the venue for an upmarket buffet at lunchtime (€25) and fine dining in the evening. Lighter meals are available in the Terrace Café, a relaxing space with river views (open 0800-1730), while the Terrace Bar is open until midnight with plenty of outdoor seating (with heaters) for unreconstructed smokers. Free wifi is available in all public areas, as is cheesy Eighties music.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The business centre occupies the whole of the top floor, and offers full secretarial services, as well as seven meetings rooms with state-of-the-art AV facilities, and terraces with the best views in the hotel. The Shannon Suite in the basement is set to be the city's main venue for larger functions, with capacity for up to 370 for dinner, high ceilings and a bar area. A small room on the ground floor houses a pair of PCs for guest use (internet €4.50 for 15 mins).

LEISURE FACILITIES Along with the sleek business centre, the Living Well Health Club in the basement is one of the hotel's main selling points. The huge pool area is ideal for exercise and relaxing, with a 20-metre tiled pool, sauna, steam room, hydrotherapy pool and spa bath, while the well-equipped gym has plenty of natural light. The Zigomi spa has five treatment rooms and offers a wide range of options including facials and massages.

VERDICT When I stayed two weeks after the opening the service was in need of polishing, but in other respects this is a sleek and well-presented business hotel.

PRICES Fully flexible internet rates for a mid-week stay in mid-September started from €135, room only.

CONTACT Hilton Limerick, Ennis Road, Limerick, Ireland; tel +353 61 421 800; hilton.com.

Lucy Fitzgeorge-Parker

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