Four Georgian houses make up The Merrion Hotel, one of Ireland’s finest luxury spa hotels located in the heart of Dublin. The décor, service, restaurants, and facilities are perfect, and the secret garden enclosed inside holds the hottest tables in the city on a summer’s day. Founder of Compare Retreats Dervla Louli Musgrave checks in for an urban spa break filled with Biologique Recherche treatments, signature salads, and healthy botanical beverages.
Secret Gardens and a Sprawling Spa
The Merrion Hotel is located on the south side of Dublin 2, a short stroll away from the buzz of Grafton Street, galleries, Trinity College, and St. Stephen’s Green Park, making it the ideal spot to explore the city from. It’s a long-time favourite establishment among corporates and creatives who appreciate the upscale, discrete and beautiful nature of the townhouse hotel that opened back in 1997. Two 18th-century style gardens designed by Jim Reynolds sit inside and the hotel walls are adorned with Ireland’s largest collection of 19th and 20th-century art.
When it comes to dining there’s an array of options to choose from, including afternoon tea in the multiple drawing rooms, drinks in No. 23 or The Cellar Bar, something fresh in The Garden Room, or a two-star Michelin experience at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. The spa and health club on the ground floor has a Grecian pool complete with columns and mosaics, six treatment rooms, a relaxation area, a gym, and a salon. The holistic ESPA and clinical Biologique Recherche spa treatments are exquisite brands for holistic and clinical pampering.
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Romantic Rooms and Decadent Dining
There are two distinct styles of rooms in the hotel. The Garden Wing offers contemporary-style accommodation while the main house is more in keeping with the original 1760’s décor. All of the rooms are plush and generous in size with Italian marble bathrooms, but if you want the full Irish Georgian experience a stay in the main house is a must. The romantic red toile-clad junior suites here boast some of the most beautiful interior décor in Ireland and if you love canopies, sconces, and boiserie, these are the rooms for you.
Some of my favourite dining experiences in Dublin have happened at The Merrion and the options are perfectly curated. I have fond memories of gluten-free porridge before I ran the Dublin Marathon a few years ago, enjoying a reunion with friends and family dining on McCarthy salads in The Garden Room in the summer, honeymoon drinks and seafood towers with my husband in No. 23, and catch-ups with my parents after long flights from Hong Kong in the drawing-room over afternoon tea. For one of the most special dining experiences in Dublin, a visit to two-star Michelin Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud for the degustation menu is the ultimate indulgence.
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Activities and Treatments for the Mind and Body
Despite the exclusive and luxurious nature of the hotel, it is surprisingly family-friendly with the team going to great lengths to make sure everyone of all ages has a wonderful time during their stay. Bikes are provided for anyone who wants to explore the nearby attractions and come complete with rain macs and little picnics in case guests get peckish during their wanderings. A few notable attractions to visit include the Book of Kells in Trinity, the Guinness Storehouse, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and the beautiful below-the-radar walled Iveagh Gardens. Runners in the know also love to stay at The Merrion for the Dublin City Marathon, as the starting line is just a few minutes away from the hotel and a stint in the spa is the ideal post-run recovery.
Alice Roden redesigned the spa and health club in 2019 and it’s the perfect tranquil escape for some rest and relaxation. Beauty devotees frequent the spa often for Biologique Recherche facials and to stock up on the cult clinical products, while the ESPA massages and body treatments are a hit for anyone that wants to unwind.
The spa experience is absolute perfection, from the cold-pressed healthy juices on arrival to the expertly trained therapists who are all incredibly knowledgeable. The Vitality Club Bar, relaxation room, and beautiful pool offer ample space to chill out quietly pre and post-treatment making sure you feel completely chilled out throughout your spa visit.
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The Merrion has its own non-alcoholic botanical spirit and makes a huge effort to make wellness-conscious guests feel taken care of. The team is welcoming, friendly and some of the best in the hospitality business. The incomparable art collection makes the hotel feel more like an opulent home, and the Irish fabric used in the junior suites is a nice nod to the hotel’s origins.
The Biologique Recherche facials mix clinical products and expert techniques that revive dull and lacklustre skin, giving results that are immediate. You can continue recommended regimes at home with the products sold in the spa. The McCarthy salad is one of the most delicious in the city and is best enjoyed on a sunny day in the second section of the garden in one of the whimsical wooden love seats.