Wednesday, November 3, 2010
We don't mean to be harping on about value in Dublin, but when a newspaper giant such as the Financial Times picks up on it...then there must be some truth in it.
Check it out....
Many of the costs associated with doing business in Ireland at the tail end of 2010 are now considerably lower for the business traveller than they have been for many years.
According to the latest figures from Hotels.com, the average price of a hotel room in Ireland dropped 21 per cent last year and a further 4 per cent in the first half of this year. Although the decline in prices is slowing, the average room rate of €79 ($110) a night makes Ireland the least expensive destination in western Europe and the fourth-cheapest in the eurozone.
Dublin is now one of the least expensive major city destinations in the world, according to Hotels.com, with an average room rate of €73 a night.
All the big international chains are represented in the capital and around the country, including Marriott, Conrad and the Four Seasons.
There are also quite a few boutique hotels, offering a more individual twist to the “hundred thousand” Irish welcomes.
Dublin is sadly short of historic hotels – most of them fell victim to the developers’ wrecking ball in the 1970s. To the south of the river Liffey the Shelbourne Hotel, founded in 1824, has long been the destination of choice for many of the business community.
The Horseshoe Bar, once voted by Time magazine as one of the best in the world, was where Celtic tigers quenched their thirst during the boom years. One disgruntled wag defined it as “a place where women with a past met men with no future”. Those seeking “the relics of old decency” will be well looked after here.
Just a block away, the Merrion offers old world charm in a set of Georgian buildings overlooking the prime minister’s office. The Cellar Bar offers a good lunch for those in a hurry. These atmospheric rooms are the old kitchens and wine cellars of Mornington House, where the Duke of Wellington was born. The hotel also houses the Michelin-starred Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.
The Conrad, on Earlsfort Terrace, is also centrally located. It is favoured by regular business visitors for the high quality of its service and the fact that many of the friendly staff have been there for years. It has also been the home for 12 years of one resident Irish businessman known for his exacting standards. The Conrad has, therefore, been put to the test by some of the most discerning patrons.
Off Grafton Street, the capital’s trendy shopping street, the Westbury offers city-centre luxury in a more modern setting. Its Marble Bar is a discreet first-floor watering hole favoured by early evening tipplers.
Elsewhere in the country, Cork is well served by a wide variety of quality hotels, but Hayfield Manor near the university is by far the most stylish. The hotel is set in the former estate of the Musgraves, one of the city’s leading merchant prince families. The restaurant offers some of the best seafood in Cork. It is a haven of tranquillity yet within walking distance of the city centre.
North of Cork on the west coast, lies Limerick. Its Savoy hotel is centrally located and offers impeccable service in the heart of the business district. A short drive from Limerick, Adare Manor, once the seat of the Earls of Dunraven, offers golfing and spa facilities in a historic setting.
Further up the west coast, Galway, the “City of the Tribes”, has one of the most vibrant cultural scenes in Ireland. A favourite haunt of the racing set and home to the Galway Oyster Festival, the city has the hotel infrastructure to go with all of that. The SAS Radisson is much favoured by the racing set. The Meyrick on Eyre Square is a former grand railway hotel offering Victorian elegance and modern service.
Many Irish restaurants have dropped their prices by as much as 40 per cent in the past year or so. Rather like the absence of old hotels, restaurants with a pedigree are thin on the ground in Dublin. One exception is the Unicorn, which has been going since 1943. Offering primarily Italian cuisine with a modern twist, this is a favourite with politicians and businessmen. It is a good place to spot visiting theatre and film stars who, when working in Dublin, inevitably end up using the Unicorn as their base.
Peploe’s, on St Stephen’s Green, is named after the Scottish painter Samuel John Peploe and has established a firm reputation as one of Dublin’s top dining spots. Converted from an old safety deposit vault, it is atmospheric and has a charming wine bar with its own menu as well as more sustaining choices in the main restaurant. Lunch and dinner usually find Peploe’s full of business diners. For business travellers with an interest in military history, the wonderful menu covers are the art work of Melinda Patton, a descendant of General George Patton.
Town Bar and Grill, on Kildare Street, is a short distance from the national parliament and the museum district. Located in charming old wine cellars, the restaurant has a loyal clientele. It serves superb fresh fish, meat and pasta dishes. At weekends, it has a resident piano player.
Cork’s gastronomic accolade must go to Jacque’s, now one of the longest established restaurants in the city. It aims to showcase the best of County Cork’s fresh produce in a modern environment and achieves this aim splendidly. It is conveniently located near the Imperial Hotel and the South Mall in the heart of the business district.
Just a short journey down the coast is Kinsale, which is known as Ireland’s gastronomic capital. It offers an extensive selection of seafood restaurants in an idyllic coastal setting.
James Joyce once set a challenge: to cross the city of Dublin without passing a pub. It is of course a near impossible task. In the city centre it is worth sampling Doheny & Nesbitt’s on Baggot Street. The business traveller will note that this local is credited with having its own school of economics, surely a world first. Nearby on Merrion Row, O’Donoghue’s is famous for live sessions of traditional Irish music.
In Cork, the local brew is Murphy’s Stout and anyone seeking the authentic pub experience must head for Counihan’s of Pembroke Street. Downstairs offers an old Cork pub atmosphere, while upstairs is somewhat trendier.
The National Museum in Dublin is centrally located and boasts a fabulous collection of Celtic gold artefacts.
The National Library, which always has an interesting literary exhibition, is located just opposite.
Behind these two institutions is the National Gallery, which houses collections of Irish and international art including a relatively recently discovered Caravaggio. The Chester Beatty Library (really a museum) at Dublin Castle is the jewel in the cultural crown, housing one of the world’s greatest collections of Oriental artefacts.
Cork plays host to a major jazz festival every October and an International Film Festival in November. The Crawford Gallery and the Lewis Glucksman Gallery between them cover the fine arts comprehensively.
Limerick’s Hunt Museum holds the nucleus of a private collection from the Neolithic age to the 20th century.
The sporting life is one of Ireland’s treasured activities. Golfing facilities are world class, including Ryder Cup host, the elegant K Club in County Kildare.
Ireland does not have a foxhunting ban and visitors are always made welcome by masters of Irish hunts, where a modest cap fee secures a day’s riding to hounds in the countryside.
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