In the hunt for a silver lining in these strangest of times, I’ve come up with one thing the pandemic has made me feel grateful for: falling in love with my own city again, and having an excuse, or even imperative, to stay in some of its fabulous hotels.
Staying in our own county seemed ever so much easier when an overnight break in one of Dublin’s beautiful five star abodes – The Westin – was on the cards.
Sitting pretty across from College Green on Westmoreland St, just a stone’s throw from O’Connell bridge, from the second you drop your car with the top hat toating valet you feel like you’re being draped in luxury at the Westin. As your heels click gleefully across the marble lobby, roaring open fireplaces greet you at check in, which is seamless, sanitised and speedy.
Our home for the night was a decadent duplex, the George Bernard Shaw Suite. It felt fitting that I found myself in the suite dedicated to the Dubliner who correctly observed that there is no love sincerer than the love of food, an opulent boudoir draped around a spiral staircase leading up to a fireside lounge.
The beautiful staircase first catches your eye, but then it is all about the two storey window and French doors leading out to the dream Dublin cityscape – Trinity, College Green and the former Irish Houses of Parliament to my left and the Liffey to my right, I could have stayed for hours on that balcony watching the world, Dublin Bus and Luas go by.
Once you manage to tear yourself away from the view, there’s an uber plush king size bed and a deep soaking bath to preoccupy your indulgent whims, just slip into your fluffy robe and slippers and you’re set for five star lounging in style.
Inevitably, hunger and greed managed to tempt us from our robes and suite, although currently there is a Moreland’s Grill in-room dining menu which very nearly called our room service-loving names.
However, a previous visit to the Atrium Lounge for afternoon tea meant I was looking forward to a dimly lit dinner in this most decadent of dining rooms, so we donned our masks and gladrags and headed downstairs happily.
Dream a little dream of me cooed softly in the background in the five storey high, glass ceilinged and ever so alluring lounge as we settled in to a corner couch rather than a booth – both socially distanced, intimate dining options. Who knew you could have dinner under the stars in Dublin without setting foot outside?
A coupe of Perrier Jouet Belle Epoche Champagne cannot be faulted as a way to kick off dinner proceedings, and sipping on my bubbles, I could feel myself truly unwind as we perused the menu. Surrounded by fellow couples treating themselves to a superb staycation, there was romance and the happy hum of clinking toasts in the air.
A starter of bruleed Goats Cheese on crisp sourdough was dotted with the perfect sweet bed fellow, sticky figs, while I opted for a classic Duck Liver Terrine to start, a silky slice, perfectly brandied and complimented by buttery and sweet brioche and more figs, this time in chutney form.
For mains it seemed absolutely necessary to sample the wares of the Josper Grill which takes up pride of place in the Moreland’s Grill kitchen and in my experience, elevates everything it touches to smokey, tender deliciousness.
I’m pleased to say in the case of a Striploin Steak, which crucially arrived perfectly rare as requested, I wasn’t wrong at all, and the classic combo of steak and pepper sauce was comforting in its simplicity. This method also injected a hint of charred excitement and juiciness to Grilled Chicken with Chimichurri, another simple but nicely executed dish.
A dessert of Warm Chocolate Brownie served with one of my absolute favourite guilty pleasures, clotted cream, ensured we finished dinner on a sweet note, as did the two Woodford Reserve digestifs we ordered to the room to enjoy en robe – bliss.
Although The Westin’s “Heavenly Beds” promise was well kept (no seriously, where can I buy one?), we still managed to rise and shine to revisit the Atrium Lounge for breakfast, and it was just as beautiful bathed in Winter sunshine as starlight.
There was absolutely a need for a roaring open fire at breakfast, it just screams luxury, and we sat ourselves right next to it. Leisurely sipping coffee from the most perfect china teacups, as we grazed on pain au chocolat and croissants before enjoying a (very good) Full Irish and Eggs Benedict.
I hate that moment after breakfast when you know check out is nigh, but I managed to ease the pain with a post-breakfast coffee from our suite’s Nespresso machine on the balcony, again drinking in that unforgettable view, before sadly bidding farewell to The Westin, for now.
Those of us living in Dublin are lucky to have such luxurious hideaways on our doorstep, reminding us what a gloriously beautiful city we live in. It will be a wonderful day indeed when places like The Westin can warmly welcome those from far and wide to fall in love with the capital and those views, too.
WRITTEN BY: DARINA COFFEY
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