A weekend break in Dublin
Longing for a change of scenery where great food, beautiful surroundings and top-notch service come as standard? Hannah Sherwood stays at the super-stylish Westbury and eats her way around the gorgeous Irish capital.
Full of grand Georgian architecture, quirky historic quarters and great restaurants, Dublin sounded like the perfect city for a food-focused weekend with a bit of luxury thrown in so, in full ‘spoil-myself’ mode, I check into The Westbury.
This stunning five-star hotel is in the heart of the shopping district, between the old and new parts of the city. Kicking off my shoes, I flop about in the giant studio suite with its modern four-poster and stylish sofa area.
A few hits from the Nespresso coffee machine and a quick freshen-up in the epic bathroom gets me ready for cocktails in the Sidecar, the hotel’s 1930s-style cocktail bar, before dinner in Wilde restaurant, overlooking a gorgeous terrace. Tucking into a beautifully cooked Dover sole, we plan our weekend while getting slightly distracted by our selection of delicious side dishes – especially the cauliflower and pomegranate, and lobster mash.
As the city is so easy to explore on foot, we decide to take a tour with Fab Food Trails, which offers ‘a perfect slice of a delicious city’ with a guide to help you discover all those hard-to-find independent restaurants and food shops that locals know about but tourists rarely do. So the next day found us munching and sipping our way through the hours. Our first port of call was Sheridans Cheesemongers for some locally produced Crozier Blue, matured for 18 weeks and with a strong, creamy flavour. Sandwiches at the Pepper Pot Cafe were another standout – the roast pear and bacon sarnie is highly recommended – and we also enjoyed an invigorating whiskey at the Swan Bar, one of the last 12 remaining intact Victorian showcase bars in Dublin.
To soak up the whiskey – and the Guinness – Dublin Pizza Company has to be one of the city’s hidden gems, serving takeaway wood-fired pizzas out of a tiny shop until the early hours. Or, for something smarter, try Fire restaurant in the Mansion House, the official residence of Dublin’s Lord Mayor since 1715. Committed to supporting sustainable local Irish produce, it serves the finest meats, and I can’t get enough of my excellent 6oz Irish Hereford prime fillet steak.
After all that wining and dining, we spend the next day sightseeing. The Little Museum of Dublin is the place to go if you want a potted history of the place. It’s exactly what it says it is – a small museum housed in a wonderful Georgian house that tells the story of the city via a local guide (so you need to book ahead). It’s opposite St Stephen’s Green, a gorgeous park that’s worth a stroll around.
Pilgrims ancient and modern have been visiting nearby Christ Church Cathedral for almost a thousand years – it’s the city’s oldest building – while the cast-iron Ha’penny Bridge is a quaint way to cross the River Liffey.
Those with a taste for more modern history shouldn’t miss the General Post Office, where the ‘witness centre’ hosts a fantastic interactive exhibition on the 1916 uprising and how Ireland has developed since.
Phew – all that walking has given me an appetite again. We return to the Westbury, where a Champagne afternoon tea by the fire seems in order, complete with smoked salmon and crab with lemon aioli on soda bread, a traditional Irish speciality.
Cities where you can get lost walking down cobbled lanes, stumbling across quirky shops and learning about its history in beautiful museums get a firm ‘yes’ from me. Throw in some lip-smackingly tasty whiskey and great food and you’ve got a city break with charm that’s hard to resist. I’ll be back.
Top 3 treats to try
Margherita pizza from Dublin pizza Company
Soft dough, fresh tomato sauce and melty blobs of mozzarella have never tasted so good!
Afternoon tea at the Westbury
Served in the imposing Gallery, overlooking Grafton Street, this Champagne afternoon tea is to die for.
Lemon Tart at Wilde
A perfect tart topped with a zesty yogurt and lime sorbet, and served with coconut meringue sticks.