Sean Lally, the head concierge at the charming Merrion Hotel provided some insightful recommendations for experiencing Dublin city’s famous publife.
1) Can you briefly outline your experience in the hotel industry and how long you have been working for Merrion Hotel in Dublin?
I have worked in the hospitality industry since I left school. My very first job was as a Cabin Steward with Princess Cruises, sailing to Alaska from Vancouver, I was only eighteen years of age and had never been abroad before that time so I had to learn an awful lot very quickly. The contract was for six months but I took to shipboard life like a duck to water and stayed at sea for eleven years, mostly with Princess Cruises but towards the end I changed my allegiance to the legendary Queen Elizabeth 2. I began my career at The Merrion Hotel in the summer of 1997 which was a month before the hotel actually opened.
2) Can you describe the hotel to someone who may not have previously been and its location in Dublin City?
The Merrion Hotel is made up of four Georgian dwellings and therefore simply oozes elegance, charm, sophistication and history. The Duke of Wellington was allegedly born in one of the four buildings and our Residence bar “Bar 24” is a most elegant area where I’m sure this most noble of gentlemen would feel at home even amongst the modern trappings of 21st Century living. The hotel comprises of 143 rooms which include 20 suites in the original building as well as a more contemporary selection of rooms which wrap around a private garden acting as a oasis of tranquillity for our guests. The hotel is marvellously located across from The Irish Government Buildings which is only a short stroll to St Stephens Green and the shopping mecca of Grafton Street
3) Can you describe your own hotel bar ?
Our other hotel bar is “The Cellar Bar and Restaurant” which is housed in the original Wine Cellar’s of this most prestigious 17th Century building, therefore once you enter you are instantly taken back to a more gentile and charismatic time in history. You can’t help but wonder which enigmatic history makers moved within these walls compared to some of today’s movers and shakers who are regularly seen making the kind of deals that put the “Celtic” in Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” economy.
4) If you had a couple staying where would you recommend them to go for a drink before a romantic meal?
If that couple decided they didn’t wish to soak up our own sophisticated cocktail bar “Bar 23” I’d have no hesitation in sending them to “Ely Wine Bar” which is again a Georgian dwelling that offers a cosy romantic environment coupled with a dazzling wine list.
5) Where would you send someone looking to soak up the local Dublin vibe?
Without doubt, I’d send them to The Wexford Street area as there is a good selection of live music bars where you could catch “the next best thing” strumming away without anyone taking much notice! I have in mind “Whelans” but you could also just hang in “Solas“, “The Odean” or “The Bleeding Horse” which are all located close to each other and all are very much popular with the real locals.
6) Where would you suggest a group of guys/girls go to for a night out?
I would recommend to start the evening with a cocktail or two at “Ron Black’s” or “Café En Seine” both of which are located on nearby Dawson Street after which you could pop into the newly opened “Marco Pierre White’s”, “Fire” or “Bleu Bistro” for some uncomplicated but wholesome European Cuisine but all using the finest Irish ingredients. If that wasn’t enough there are a number of late night clubs on Harcourt Street, namely “D Two”, “Diceys” and if you would like to mingle with Ireland’s showbiz wanabes then “Krystal” is where you want to be.
7) Where would you go for a pint after work?
I would head for a pint in “Kehoe’s” which is located on South Anne Street, just off Grafton Street. This pub offers an authentic and quirky atmosphere, dare I say an almost rural feel reminiscent of a time gone by.
Image courtesy of The Merrion Hotel