Tried & Tested

Hotel check: The Westbury Hotel, Dublin

13 Mar 2009 by Mark Caswell
WAC Trianon Palace - PressRelease - Draft 2 OP.doc

What’s it like? The glamorous Westbury has been something of a Dublin institution since it opened in 1984. Part of the Doyle Collection, its five-star credentials have earned it membership of the Leading Hotels of the World brand. A €20 million refurbishment of all seven floors of the property, completed in October last year, has given it a new sheen.

Enter through revolving doors, greeting the doorman on the way, and a grand staircase will take you up to the elegant, marble-floored reception area, to the right. The large lobby curves around to the left and features a grand piano, Waterford crystal chandeliers, comfortable sofas in rich fabrics, and busts of Irish writers such as George Bernard Shaw and Patrick Kavanagh. It’s a comfortable, buzzing area with mellow music playing softly in the background.

The literary theme continues throughout the property, with stunning contemporary Irish art hanging in the public areas and the fine-dining restaurant, Wilde, named after one of the city’s favourite sons.

Where is it? The hotel manages to feel both tucked away and in the centre of everything, located as it is just off the main shopping thoroughfare of Grafton Street, home to the high-end department store Brown Thomas and Dublin’s oldest café, Bewley’s. Most of the city’s tourist attractions are a short walk away – St Stephen’s Green is at one end of Grafton Street and Trinity College is at the other.

The hotel is 12km from Dublin airport and the main train stations and Luas tram system are all nearby. A small, rather difficult-to-navigate car park is beneath the property. If you’re driving, be aware that the one-way system to get to the hotel can be tricky.

Room facilities There are 205 rooms in total – 157 Superior rooms and 48 suites of various categories – located on floors two to seven. My Superior room on the fourth floor was beautifully decked out in rich fabrics in shades of pale grey and green, and dark-wood furniture. A comfortable queen-size bed was dressed with a duck-down duvet and mattress protector, Frette linen and a beige silk throw (I was told some of the throws in the hotel cost a recession-busting €1,200), while a circular table and two plush armchairs sat in front of the window (the view, as with many hotels in the city centre, was unremarkable).

Facilities included a good-sized workdesk, European and US plug sockets, free wifi, a Nespresso machine, a hairdryer, a selection of magazines, a robe and slippers, an iron and ironing board, a laptop-sized safe, air conditioning and crystal glassware. A 32-inch flatscreen TV was fitted to the wall and had 21 channels and on-demand movies, while a “media hub” allowed me to link my devices to the television. The light system was fiddly and it was difficult to work out which switches turned out which lamps.

The room was generally quiet, although the windows didn’t block out all the city noise – a small protest occurring outside a shop on the street below was particularly engaging. There was a turn-down service with Lily O’Brien chocolates and a “goodnight” card left on the bed – a nice touch. The minibar housed champagne, white wine, spirits, lager, soft drinks, mixers, mineral water (priced at €3.30 per bottle) and a selection of snacks. The electronic sensor was rather sensitive – an item was charged to my bill that I didn’t have.

The compact black-and-white bathroom was gleaming and had a combined bath and shower (the shower could have done with a bit more power) and musky-scented Acqua di Parma toiletries.

Restaurants and bars On the first floor is the fine-dining restaurant Wilde, an elegant room with lots of light, brown leather seats, chandeliers and fine art on the walls. It seats about 90 people and the Irish menu, created by John Wood, previously executive chef at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, has a strong emphasis on beef and seafood. It’s open for lunch on Monday to Friday from 12.30-2.30pm, for dinner every day from 6pm-9.30pm, and for Sunday lunch. Afternoon tea is served next door in the Gallery lounge.

On the ground floor, and with its own street-side entrance, Café Novo is a brasserie-style restaurant and bar with a relaxed, slightly retro feel and a lively local crowd. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and the international menu is wide and affordable – I had the grilled soy and ginger marinated king prawns on stir fried vegetables, which was delicious. Food is served from 7am to 10pm, with the bar staying open until 12.30am, and bookings are not taken. A good selection of champagne and cocktails are also served in the hotel’s art deco-style Marble bar.

Meeting and business facilities The self-contained meetings and events centre, on the first floor, houses seven stylishly-furnished boardrooms that can hold up to 50 people. All have natural daylight and good technology, and the Trinity suite also works as a private dining room with its own bar area. For larger events, the Grafton suite divides into three and can take 200 people theatre-style. Also on the first floor is the business centre, open 24 hours.

Leisure facilities There is a small gym on the second floor.

Factfile

How many rooms? There are 205, including 157 Superior rooms and 48 suites (12 Deluxe, eight Junior, 18 Studio, nine Luxury and the Presidential).

Room highlights: The comfortable bed, free wifi and Nespresso machine.

Price: Internet rates for a midweek stay in March started from €149 for a Superior room.

Contact: The Westbury Hotel, Grafton Street; tel +353 1679 1122; doylecollection.com. The hotel is also part of the Leading Hotels of the World collection: lhw.com; tel 00800 2888 8882

Verdict A beautiful hotel with excellent dining facilities in an ideal location for business or leisure.

Michelle Mannion

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