Tag Archives: Ireland

Where to Stay in Dublin – The Fitzwilliam Hotel

Where to stay in Dublin - The Fitzwilliam HotelDublin, Ireland is a unique city where old and new, history and innovation blend in a harmony rarely found in any major metropolitan city I’ve visited. The options for entertaining oneself are endless, as are the places to rest your head. When I’m asked where to stay in Dublin, the answer is easy – The Fitzwilliam Hotel.

I’ve stayed in countless hotels around the globe and learned that all of them can be measured by four things; location, amenities, staff, and value. Here is how The Fitzwilliam Hotel, Dublin measures up…

Location, Location, Location!

The Fitzwilliam sits at head of Grafton Street directly across from the famed St. Stephens’ Green. A large section of Grafton Street is closed to all but pedestrian traffic and features endless options for shopping and dining. Though I will say that I wasn’t so impressed with the stores… what American wants to go to Dublin and shop at the Disney Story? Not this one. 

Far more alluring was the ability to walk – literally across the street– and into St. Stephens’ Green. If you didn’t already know, this public park was the model for New York City’s Central Park, and I’m sure countless other public squares. One of my favorite areas in the park is the gardens around the Caretaker’s Cottage, which is directly in front of the Fitzwilliam.

Saint Stephen's Green Caretakers CottegeThe DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) tram stops within walking distance of the property. There are taxis galore in the area, as well as pedicabs and horse drawn carriages (take one to the Guinness Store House for a fun twist.) Concierge will happily help you with securing a bicycle if you’d like, though the streets are quite busy – I’d fall and need stitches!

Amenities

Sure there is a gym, doesn’t every hotel have one these days? What the Fitzwilliam has that most don’t, is Spirit. Part salon, with a little bit of spa, Spirit ascribes to a wonderfully holistic and natural approach to beauty services. Treat yourself.

Not many hotels can boast three excellent on-site restaurants, let alone one with a Michelin star. The Fitzwilliam can.  Thornton’s is fine dining at its best, thus the star. Citron is a more relaxed, yet still upscale dinning experience that boasts some modern twists on Irish classics. Their Celeriac soup is simply divine! Pop into the Inn on the Green for a great breakfast, or a lovely lunch in this cozy place that makes you feel at ease. Note: the charcuterie plate is HUGE! 

Any good hotel, in my book, must have a fabulous bathtub and plush robes. Not having this can be a deal breaker. The bath at Fitzwilliam was a deal maker!

Where to stay in Dublin - The Fitzwilliam HotelThere is also a wonderful tea available seasonally on the balcony that overlooks the city.  Free (reliable) wi-fi and in-room safes that are large enough for a laptop are both pluses.

Staff

Here is where the Fitzwilliam sets itself apart. From the doormen who take the time to ask you where your day is taking you with sincerity to a concierge staff who call your room to ask how they can help make your stay even better, to the housekeeping staff that leave lovely notes, this place makes you feel so very welcome. Many a hotel will send up a welcome amenity. At the Fitzwilliam we got a delivery of Dairy Milk bars and crisps with a note from the front desk telling my daughter how those where their favorite childhood treats.

Get to know the concierge while you’re here! These folks are gems, working with them is akin to having your own private guide to all things you love that can be found in Dublin. Seriously, this is a service they should charge for – I’d pay. 

Each and every staff member we encountered was warm, helpful and never overbearing, which speaks to the earnestness that takes this from hotel to a fond memory and a place you long to return to. 

“Some places you stay. Other places stay with you.” ~Me

Value

The Fitzwilliam is a luxury property, and the price tag reflects that Рour stay in the off-season and was £395 per night. That said, the location, and service were well worth the price. Being so centrally located, you need not spend extra money on getting around. Having the concierge as your guides is a huge service, adding to the value.

Where to stay in Dublin - The Fitzwilliam HotelThe Fitzwilliam is also a member of the Preferred Hotel Group – their iPrefer program is one of only three hotel loyalty programs I personally belong to. Why?  Their points add up fast, you always get free wi-fi, early check-in and/or late checkout, and they take the time to learn your (and your family’s) preferences ensuring that they follow you across all their member properties.

Dublin, Ireland: Pints, Passports and The Blue Oyster Cult

Sure I’ve traveled quite a bit, but most of the best destinations came BC (Before Kids).

Though, there was this one time in Dublin.

Temple Bar District, Dublin, Ireland

Actually our trip was an Italian escape. A week in Tuscany. Shopping in Florence. Stopping to see family in Rome, a day trip to Lucca and enough wine to float us home. So where does Dublin factor in? What I’d done was book our flights so that the layover in Dublin was more like a day trip. Bonus, it saved me money too!

Travel tip: Long layovers can save you money AND get you an extra destination in your itinerary too.

After one of the best flights I’ve ever been on* we touched ground is sunny Ireland, my ancestral home. All the lucky holders of EU passports got swiftly ferried through the fast line, whist Hubby and I had to cue up with the snails. It was still great, after all we were kid free and about to hit Temple Bar for an early morning pint. Gotta love that you can get a proper stout at nine in the morning served in with a frothy head and no judgment.

The fine gentleman at the customs counter asked us the usual questions, “Where is your final destination?”, “How long do you plan to be in Ireland?”, nothing out of the ordinary. Passports stamped, hand-in-hand, we made our way towards the throngs of travelers exiting the inspection area. All was right with the world.

Until the guy in the supervisors booth stepped in front of us and said, “Come with me please.”

Wholly crap! My heart climbed into my throat and started to do a jig. Couldn’t this guy tell I was Irish? I mean, I belong here. What was going on? I’d never even been stopped at a border. Not even as a slightly inebriated teenager returning from Mexico on a Saturday night. What the heck is going on?

Naturally. It was all my husband’s fault.

As the Supervisor lead us out of the crowd and towards his booth he introduced himself. Then he proceeded to ask my husband if he wouldn’t mind posing for a picture with him. Good looking as my man is, he’s never been mistaken for a movie star. Ah, but he did have an association with one. See he was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with an image of Will Farrel in his classic SNL parody of  The Blue Oyster Cult skit in which we are all told that,  “It Needs More Cowbell!”

I’d nearly had a heart attack because the guy wanted a picture of the SHIRT??!!!

Oddly enough we’d later be stopped on the streets of Temple Bar so that the shirt could be admired. I guess Will Farrel is a big deal in Ireland.

Temple BarStay classy Dublin!

(this post is in NO WAY sponsored by anyone. That said, mad props to Aer Lingus for great service… a rare thing in air travel these days)

The Glory of Guinness

Don’t let the eye-talian last name fool ya, I’m a Lass o’ Erin through and through. With the annual, “Tell everyone you’re Irish so you can either a) get a kiss or b) get ya some Belgian beer dyed green in honor of your heritage” day, fast approaching I thought I might inject a little Irish into your St. Padraig’s (<–not a typo) festivities. What better way to go Gaelic than with the be-all-end-all of barley based beverages..

Guinness it’s what’s for dinner..lunch & desert too!!!

 

Guinness BBQ Glaze

1 12oz bottle of Guinness stout
1 tsp honey
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp Balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

In a medium sauce pan bring Guinness to a rolling boil. Lower heat (medium to low) and allow to reduce by 3/4. Stir in remaining ingredients and remove from heat. Baste desired protein with this delectable homage to Ireland*. Bain sult as!

Traditional Irish Soda Bread would turn it’s nose up at a raisin and never be seen in public with a caraway seed. My Gran used both. She was a rebel. In her honor I’m staging my own soda bread rebellion. It’s away with the caraway and enter the conquering currants and their cousins. Since nothing in life can not be made better by a propper beer.. you guessed it this recipe calls for GUINNESS!

Gran’s Soda Bread ala Guinness

1 2/3 cups of bread or all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (I prefer kosher)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup raisins
1 large egg (room temp)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Guinness stout
4 tbsp unsalted butter (melted)

Preheat oven to 357 degrees. Grease (or line) a large baking sheet. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix in currants and raisins. In a medium bowl whisk egg, butter and buttermilk together. Add this wet mixture into the dry until moistened, adding the Guinness in as the final step. Batter should be sticky but also stiff. If it’s too wet, add more flour by teaspoons until batter stiffens. Turn the batter out onto your greased cooking sheet and form it into a 6 inch diameter tall disk, pat down slightly. Using a sharp knife, cut an “X” into the top. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean, when done. Allow to cool on a rack. (though I can’t help stealing a hot slice to slather with white butter). Ith suas!

Generally I make four to six loaves of Soda Bread each St. Pat’s. Why so much? PUDDING!!!

Chocolate Guinness SODA Bread Pudding with Jameson Sauce

2 loaves Gran’s Soda Bread
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg YOLKS
12 ounces dark chocolate (I use a bar and chop it up but chips or even semi-sweet chocolate work just as good)
2 cups milk (whole not low fat.. this is not your average WW dessert.. Le Sigh)
1 tablespoon Bourbon Vanilla

Cut bread into 1/2 inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. In a sauce pot bring the heavy cream, sugar and salt to a boil (string constantly). Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until smooth. Whisk in eggs and yolks, adding in milk and vanilla. Pour this mixture over the bread and allow to stand for 1 to 2 hours. Occasionally give it a stir to be sure the bread soaks up the liquids. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, butter a shallow 2 quart baking dish. Prepare a water bath. Pour bread mixture into the baking dish and smooth out the top. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the center feels firm when you press it down with a spatula. Allow to cool for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Jameson IRISH Whiskey Sauce
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup Jameson Irish Whiskey

In a small sauce pan, melt butter over low heat. Using a wooden (NOT METAL) spoon stir in sugar, whiskey, water nutmeg and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is well blended and the sugar dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk until frothy. Add in egg and whisk the heck out of the sucker (aka vigorously). Put back on a medium heat, string continuously until thickened, about a minute or so. Serve atop the just warm Chocolate Guinness Soda Bread Pudding. Oh chomh maith!

Irish or not, embrace the spirit of Saint Padraig’s day. Go chase a snake off some island. Or just find a table, gather round and enjoy good food, hearty drink and the telling of tales with those you care about. H√Čireann i bhfad beo or Erin Go Bragh!

*Note: Corned Beef.. not-so-Irish.. more Jewish, still a great “ish” though. Now salmon, there is an Irish “meat”! This glaze is OUTSTANDING on salmon!!