How To Spend A Weekend In: Dublin

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Back in January, we headed to Dublin for the first time, to celebrate Lewis’s 30th birthday. I’d arranged the trip as a surprise gift for him, and spent months making plans, researching hotels and restaurants and things to do - and thankfully, it was all worth it as we had an amazing time! There’s so much to this city and it far exceeded our expectations, with lots of things to do, so here’s my guide to how to spend your own weekend in beautiful Dublin…

FRIDAY NIGHT

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It’s easy to fly into Dublin; our Ryanair flights were extremely cheap and the flight only takes around 40 minutes from Edinburgh, so it’s a perfect destination to travel to after work and still arrive with plenty of time for the evening ahead. Catch the AirLink bus at the airport (it’s €12 for a return ticket, and you’ll need to catch either the 747 or the 757), and it takes around half an hour to get into the city centre.

I recommend staying at The Dean, on Harcourt Street in the lively Saint Kevin’s district. This is a seriously chic boutique hotel that has a focus on having a great time, with a beautiful bar area in the lobby, a basement nightclub and a rooftop restaurant with an outdoor terrace. The rooms are incredibly stylish and comfortable too; we opted for a Hi Fi room, complete with dual-aspect windows, super-king bed and a lush walk-in shower, as well as a record player, speakers and a 50-inch TV pre-loaded with Netflix. (The hotel stay was part of my gift to Lewis, so I worked hard to find a hotel that would really appeal to his tastes!). The Hi Fi room is by no means the cheapest at The Dean, so if you’re on a budget, the Mod Pods and Punk Bunks look like great options that offer just as much comfort, in a smaller and more affordable space.

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Drop your bags in your room and head straight upstairs to Sophie’s bar on the roof; you’ll get a delicious dinner, amazing cocktails and a breathtaking view across the city, with a DJ playing too. The best bit is that it’s just a quick trip in the elevator back downstairs to bed (unless you decide to extend your evening by heading to the basement nightclub, Everleigh…).

SATURDAY MORNING

You can opt for breakfast/brunch back up at Sophie’s when you’re a guest at The Dean, but if you want to head out, I recommend grabbing a table round the corner at Meet Me In The Morning. This is an artisan brunch spot specialising in healthy, organic breakfast platters and bowls, packed with nutrients to energise you for a long day ahead. Grab a strong coffee and finish breakfast with one of their delicious doughnuts - you’re on holiday!

After breakfast, it’s a great time to explore Dublin and its lovely parks, like St Stephen’s . I personally loved the statues commemorating those who have really made up part of Dublin’s rich literary history, and there’s lots to find. You’ll see Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square Gardens, James Joyce on North Earl Street (just beside the famous Spire) and Anna Livia (a character from Joyce’s Ulysses) in Croppies Memorial Park. There’s plenty of other amazing statues in the city too - keep an eye out for Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy too…

SATURDAY AFTERNOON

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No trip to Dublin is complete without a Guinness, and as the home of ‘the black stuff’, you should take the opportunity to enjoy it at its source. The Guinness Storehouse at St James’ Gate is about a fifteen-minute walk from the city centre, and takes a full afternoon to complete. It’s €25 entry per person, so it’s not cheap by any means, but it does take a few hours to get around, and you finish the tour with a complimentary pint of Guinness in their rooftop bar. You’ll see everything from how it’s made, to the famous adverts that have made it a household name, and learn how to properly taste it too. A perfect activity for a liquor connoisseur!

Once you’re done with the tour, take a stroll back towards the city centre along the river. Along the way you’ll have the opportunity to visit a few of the bigger cathedrals, and once you’re back in the heart of things, you can cross the famous Ha’Penny Bridge for that must-have insta shot.

SATURDAY NIGHT

For a glamorous Saturday night in Dublin, for me there’s only one option: head to The Westbury. This elegant hotel, located just off of Grafton Street, houses the city’s chicest cocktail bar, The Sidecar, and, in my opinion, the best restaurant, WILDE.

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Make a booking for cocktails at The Sidecar, as it tends to get busy, and no surprise - this art deco-inspired cocktail lounge feels decadent and luxurious, with gold decoration and plush seating, as well as an extensive cocktail menu. My espresso martini was probably the best I’ve ever had!

After a round of cocktails, head across the mezzanine to WILDE for dinner. This is a breathtakingly beautiful restaurant, with lots of greenery, velvet seating, large windows and a roaring fire. Not only that, but service is wonderful and the food is amazing. We ordered salmon and scallops to start, both opted for surf’n’turf for mains (Lewis chose lobster, I chose prawns) with a side of onion rings, and baked Alaska and a raspberry chocolate pave for dessert. Everything was perfect, there is literally nothing for me to find fault with, so I really recommend WILDE if you’re planning a glitzy night out whilst you’re in Dublin.

As you might expect, neither of these places are exactly cheap (for reference, a cocktail is around 15€ on average), but for a lavish experience that’s completely memorable and worth every cent, you can’t go wrong.

SUNDAY MORNING

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Feeling a little woolly-headed after dinner? Stroll down to Hatch & Sons for their double-baked eggs, served with crispy bacon, Irish sausages and dense soda bread - the only way to shrug off a hangover.

And once you’re done eating, it’s time to explore some more. Dublin is, first and foremost, a literary city, so make the most of it. Head around the corner to The National Library, which is housed in a stunning neo-classical building, mirrored by The National Museum directly opposite. Try to catch one of the free library tours if you can, to find out more about the beautiful mosaic floors, stained-glass windows and plethora of materials available in the archives, plus you can often get a peek of the usually-closed reading rooms. They also often have free exhibitions on which are well worth checking out - we visited the Keats exhibition which was hugely interesting and insightful.

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After that, walk over to Trinity College, to view the famous Book of Kells, an original medieval gospel that’s really something special. The exhibition has fascinating insights into how the text was created, and there’s incredible artefacts to go alongside the main event. Plus, after you’ve viewed the Book, you can go upstairs and explore the main library space, The Long Room, with its awe-inspiring vaulted ceilings and rows of marble busts and ancient books. The College is housed in pristine grounds that are ideal for a photo opportunity too.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON

Fancy some shopping? Grafton Street is where you need to be. Home to the Irish flagship stores of many big brands, including & Other Stories (sob!) and the allure of Brown Thomas with its air of supreme luxury, Grafton Street is a gorgeous place to spend your Euros.

If you’re looking for more independent stores, nearby Drury Street, Dawson Street and Fade Street have plenty of options. I particularly liked Industry & Co, which has shelves and shelves of beautiful homewares, lifestyle goods, books and furniture available, and the Tower Records store on Dawson Street felt like the ideal way to while away the hours, with a huge selection of vinyl available.

SUNDAY EVENING

Your time in Dublin is nearly up, but don’t despair - there’s still a good night ahead of you yet. If you’ve managed to nab a late-night flight home, you’ll have plenty of time for one last night out before you hop back on the bus to the airport.

Head out to the suburbs slightly for dinner; Richmond is a Michelin-recommended neighbourhood restaurant around ten minutes’ walk from The Dean, in nearby Portobello, and it specialises in local produce, brilliantly executed. They run the early-bird menu all evening on Sundays, so you can enjoy two courses for just under €25, or three courses for just under €30. The food is wonderful, the restaurant is chic, stripped back and cosy all at the same time, and service is lovely too. You’ll certainly be well-fed - we sadly didn’t have room left for dessert, but I’ve heard very good things.

And for your last activity in Dublin, you need to do it right - time to head to an Irish bar for one last drink. But forget about Temple Bar and sky-high tourist traps; instead, take a walk down to Camden Street (parallel to The Dean, and right beside the airport bus stop!) and head into Devitt’s, which has been voted as the best pub in Ireland. It looks traditional both inside and out, but the bar is well-stocked, the staff are friendly and knowledgeable, prices are reasonable and the whole atmosphere is one of fun, relaxation and pure enjoyment. They have local musicians playing live every night too, so you can really soak up the vibes and enjoy what a proper Irish pub is all about.

Have a great time in Dublin!