While it may not be considered a go-to luxury destination like Monaco or the Maldives, over the past decade Dublin has been steadily carving out a reputation for quality restaurants, boutique hotels and sleek bars. It's not hard to see why: with its world-class pubs and theatres and elegant Georgian architecture, Dublin will please even the most discerning traveller. A famously compact city, the best way to discover the Irish capital is simply by walking - but once you've done that, where are the best places to stay, eat and drink?
Here's your essential luxury guide to Dublin.
If you're looking for unadulterated luxury, there's only one choice. Located in the heart of Dublin's centre, The Merrion Hotel is the city's most stylish five star offering, and Merrion Square, the National Gallery and Museum, and the Grafton Street shopping district are all within a stone's throw. Housed in four restored Georgian townhouses, this 142-bedroom hotel is the perfect union of historic pomp and contemporary comfort.
The spacious, light-filled period rooms are magnificent; wandering through the drawing rooms is like stepping back two hundred years. The bedrooms and suites are all large and traditionally tasteful, with the decor echoing the building's history and modern comforts like flat-screen TVs balancing things out. The gleaming marble bathrooms are spotless, and come with complimentary Asprey toiletries.
Art lovers will be in their element at The Merrion: hung upon the walls of the ground floor is Ireland's largest private art collection, and you can even take an audio tour covering the history and background of all the paintings. The half-acre garden is pretty and neat - think fountains, statues and landscaped greenery - and the newly opened restaurant, The Garden Room, capitalises on these tranquil views.
The 18 metre swimming pool is another chic affair: bordered by columns and reflecting the bright blue mosaic flooring, the style is refined and classical. If you're not relaxed enough after your swim, you can always head into the Tethra Spa to enjoy a range of spa treatments.
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud
As Ireland's only Two Star Michelin restaurant, dining at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud is a must-visit for anyone who considers themselves a foodie - or anyone who fancies the finer things in life. Despite its established reputation, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud is refreshingly unpretentious, and lots of round tables result in a laid-back, conversation-friendly ambiance.
This bright, fashionable restaurant serves classic cuisine in innovative new ways, and everything is made on the premises using seasonal Irish produce (make sure to try some of homemade bread!). Chef Guillaume Lebrun's French flair blends well with the ever-present Irish charm, and the dishes are presented so exquisitely it's (almost) a shame to eat them. If you're having difficulty deciding what to order, go for the tasting menu, which allows you to try Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud's spin on more traditional Irish dishes.
The wine list is impressively extensive - it's more like a wine bible - and the restaurant wine cellar contains over 25,000 bottles from around the world. The warm, friendly staff are very knowledgable and more than happy to help you pair your meal with a complementing wine. Try to leave room for the beautiful desserts, or a delicious selection of petit fours!
No. 23 Cocktail Bar
For an intimate and glamorous aperitif (or nightcap), head to the secluded No. 23 cocktail bar. The bar is comprised of a series of luxurious lounges and opulent armchairs perched in front of crackling fires: if it sounds old-school, it is - but in a good way, and the charming staff keep the ambiance light and fun.
Settle into a chair and sip on a flute of top-quality champagne (the bar serves Krug by the glass), or wine from L'Abeille de Fieuzal, one of Bordeaux's best vineyards. If you're peckish, there's a delicious selection of canapés, and whiskey connoisseurs will enjoy the whiskey tasting selection. Make sure to try one of the signature cocktails, too - there's over 30, all of which come with their own history and backstory.
The Cellar Bar
You can get a taste of history by heading down into the Cellar Bar, which is housed in original 18th century Georgian wine vaults. Bare brick walls, vaulted ceilings and an oak-lined ambiance create a cosy atmosphere, and a warm welcome awaits as soon as you enter. A popular bar with locals, the Cellar Bar also has an all-day gastro-pub menu, so it's a great spot for a bite to eat as well as pint.
Selene Nelson is a U.K.-based journalist who is travelling the world and reporting on her experiences in each country she visits.
This article originally appeared on Fork on the Road.
Images by Selene Nelson.