Seeped in history, Dublin can trace its origin back to 1,000 years. From the National Museum of Ireland to Trinity College, many of the city’s sites are excellent stops for history buffs. But if you really want to immerse yourself in the capital’s past, consider a stay in one of the city’s many historic hotels. From 18th-century townhouses to striking castles, we visited several properties that expertly blend their storied pasts with modern amenities. So if you’re planning a getaway and need a place to start, you’ve come to the right place. Check out the best historic hotels in Dublin, Ireland and get inspired!
The 265-room Shelbourne, built in 1824, is one of Dublin's best-known luxury icons, with a grand entrance right on St. Stephen's Green and an impressive roster of famous past guests (Bill Clinton, Julia Roberts, and Liam Neeson have all stayed here, to name a few). Rooms have elegant traditional decor, though some are quite small and standard Queen Rooms lack bathtubs. Still, the ornate common spaces, hot spot bars and dining venues, luxury spa, and historic cachet combine to make this one of Dublin's premier options.
The Merrion is Dublin's most exclusive luxury hotel, and has a convenient location across from the Government buildings in four 18th-century townhouses. It has fewer rooms than the nearby Shelbourne and feels more intimate and private, though its list of features is still extensive: The hotel has a full-service spa, lovely Roman-style indoor pool, and well-equipped fitness center. The impressive restaurant offering includes Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, the only restaurant in Ireland to receive two Michelin stars, as well as the casual and atmospheric Cellar Bar, housed in the original 18th century wine vaults. It's true that some rooms have unremarkable views of other buildings, the gym is a bit small, and not all rooms have iPod docks, but most will find little fault with this five-pearl gem.
The Schoolhouse is a charming, historic hotel located in the leafy Ballsbridge neighborhood. The building housed a school from 1859 through 1969, and underwent a restoration in 1997 that preserved its historic character. The result is a traditional, cozy boutique hotel unlike any other in Dublin. All rooms are named after a famous Irish writer and have classic decor including floral prints and antiques. Rooms do have modern touches as well, including flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and fluffy duvets. Bathrooms have historic charm, but are a little snug. The architecture of the hotel is most striking in Olivier's Restaurant and the Schoolhouse Bar, which share a beamed cathedral ceiling. The vibrant neighborhood bar has a fireplace, outdoor seating, and screens to show all the big sports matches. The quiet location, excellent food, and history of this hotel make it one of Dublin's best affordable picks.
The Clontarf Castle Hotel has a rich sense of history -- it was built on the site of the famous Battle of Clontarf (from over a thousand years ago) and the original castle dates to 1172. The exterior is impressive and imposing, mixing its medieval foundation (rebuilt in 1837) with sleek, contemporary architecture. This old/new mix continues in the magnificent lobby where castle walls meet a glass and metal atrium. Wall tapestries and suits of armor stand alongside a grand piano and funky red chandeliers. A beautifully recreatedgrand staircase leads past stained glass windows to modern carpeted hallways overlooking the reception area. The grounds aren't quite so grand, but manicured lawns and ivy-clad walls add to the overall feeling of a 21st century medieval hideaway.
Little effort has been spared in recreating an authentic Victorian experience in this quaint Ballsbridge hotel -- from handpicked antiques to meticulously maintained original features, you really get a sense of stepping into the 19th century. Rooms continue the theme, though some can appear a little dated, while the hotel's traditional afternoon tea is a real treat. Location is key -- it's perfect for the Aviva Stadium, and Dublin city center is about 20 minutes away on foot (transport links are also good).
The Butlers Townhouse is a four-pearl, traditionally decorated, 20-room guest house that's within a three-minute walk of Lansdowne Road Dart Station, and within a 15-minute walk of several Grand Canal Quay waterfront restaurants. Guest rooms, with two-fold Egyptian cotton sheets and handmade pillows, are lush and immaculate, and their posh upholstered armchairs and decorative fireplaces, capture the ambience of the Victorian era. Bathrooms, which have French doors, are pristine with modern fixtures, but run a bit small. Wi-Fi, a shoe-shine service, and 24-hour tea-and-coffee service are available free to all guests. A gourmet Irish breakfast is included in the "Bed & Breakfast" rate. The Drawing Room offers free scones, muffins, and juice in the afternoon
The upper-middle-range North Star Hotel - Premier Club Suites is a deceptively large, 161-room hotel housed in a renovated Georgian property that's enough of a Dublin landmark to get a mention in James Joyce's book Ulysses. The location is very central, with the city's main train station across the road, which also means a lot of local hubbub -- some of which inevitably reaches the rooms. The cheapest rooms are a little bland, it may be worth upgrading for a fresher look and more space. Generally, though facilities are good, especially the sauna and a bar with a cozy outdoor beer garden. Rates are very reasonable for a city center stay.
Though housed in a modernized Victorian property, the Sandymount Hotel was constructed with bricks from an 18th-century distillery that once shared the same site. This family-run hotel has been managed by three generations of the Loughran clan since 1955, when it was opened as a 'temperance hotel' originally having no bar. The entranceway has a bronze statue of a pair of rugby players lifting another aloft, reflecting the owner's passion for the sport and the proximity of the Aviva Stadium. Inside, the atmosphere is welcoming and fresh: the bright and spacious lobby has clean-lined white and purple couches and warm wood paneling. The on-site gardens have the feel of a large backyard, complete with picnic tables, leafy trees, and well-kept shrubbery.
The Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa is located about half an hour northwest of Dublin's city center. The historic property -- an 18th-century castle turned Georgian house, turned convent, turned hotel -- sits on beautiful green grounds, making it a popular spot for weddings and events. The 145 rooms are spacious and modern, though lack any wow factor in the decor department. However, linens are crisp, there is free Wi-Fi, and the castle offers 24-hour room service. Additional room amenities include electric kettles and safes, and suites have luxurious soaking tubs. The biggest highlight here is the spa, with its serene hydrotherapy pool, outdoor hot tub, and variety of treatments. A lovely lobby has plush seating and a fireplace, and the fitness room is adequate. The location may be out of the way, but with a library, restaurant, three bars, and several golf courses nearby, there is plenty to keep guests entertained.