Hotel Intel: Shelbourne toasts 200 years at heart of Dublin

Hotel Intel: Shelbourne toasts 200 years at heart of Dublin

Hotel Intel: Shelbourne toasts 200 years at heart of Dublin

Now magnificently restored, it has inspired Ireland’s literary greats, including James Joyce, whose Ulysses included a cameo mention of the hotel.

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The aristocratic Shelbourne, Autograph Collection, reflects the spirit of Ireland, then and now.

The undisputed grande dame of Dublin has been a favourite of the cognoscenti for 200 years and it’s still cherished for time-honoured traditions, polished service and exalted food and drink.

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The ravishing interiors embrace Empire and Edwardian antiques and Waterford crystal chandeliers, and there are enough brass fittings, oil paintings and gilded mirrors to outfit a castle. The handiwork of the in-house florist blooms everywhere and the spa is as pretty as a princess’s boudoir.

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The Shelbourne is part of Dublin’s history. Revolutionary politician Michael Collins drafted the constitution of the new Irish Free State here in 1922, and the hotel’s red-brick Victorian façade faces St. Stephen’s Green, a park which is home to monuments of Ireland’s heroes.

The Shelbourne also is near Grafton St. shopping, as well as cultural stops such as the Little Museum of Dublin, the National Museum and the National Gallery of Ireland. The iconic Trinity College Library is home to the sacred Book of Kells, the Celtic biblical manuscript famous for its illumination and calligraphy.

In one of the most literary of cities, the Shelbourne has inspired Ireland’s greats, including wicked wit Oscar Wilde (“I have the simplest taste. I am always satisfied with the best.”). James Joyce’s peerless tome, Ulysses, included a cameo mention of the hotel. In 1842, William Makepeace Thackeray wrote the hotel was “majestically conducted,” and Elizabeth Bowen’s 1951 book, The Shelbourne, described it as “a blend of genius and realism … a legend.”

200th in 2024: Those illustrious tributes and an almost peerless guest register of royals and rock stars say it all. Let’s skip to 2024. The Shelbourne has been magnificently restored and plans to celebrate its milestone 200th in style, including holidays with extra sparkle and pop-up events through the year.

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Chefs will create festive menus paying homage to centuries past, and guests can choose from commemorative packages such as Spend The Night At The Shelbourne. The visit would be in a Heritage Parkview Room with views of St. Stephen’s Green, and would include an approximately CND$195 credit (200 Euros)  to use in any of the hotel’s restaurants or bars, or the spa (until February 2024).

Guest rooms: The 265 guest rooms and suites are dressed in a formal 19th-century look, restored and renovated with silk damask drapes and delicate shades of fawn and eggshell blue. Every space has been updated with marble bathrooms, charging outlets, Nespresso machines and effective lighting. Many suites have window seats with views of St. Stephen’s Green.

Dining/drinking: The Shelbourne is home to a wealth of classics, each one a linchpin of Dublin’s socializing. Here is a peek:

Saddle Room: This stately walnut-panelled dining room is sedate and satisfying. Specialties include Irish produce like roast Curragh lamb, Kells beef, Casteltownbere salmon and scallops, Kilmore Quay cod or halibut, Liscannor crab and delicacies like foie gras, wild mushroom risotto, pearl caviar and truffle fries, followed by Irish cheeses, sweets and Irish coffee.

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No. 27 The Shelbourne Bar is a fancy street-side pub that attracts an affluent, see-and-be-seen crowd. There is a champagne menu, beer by Guinness and Smithwick’s, and nearly 40 kinds of Irish whisky.  Food favourites include Galway oysters, seafood platters, smoked salmon and Reuben and club sandwiches.

The Shelbourne's distinguished Horseshoe Bar is a Dublin institution.
The Shelbourne’s distinguished Horseshoe Bar is a Dublin institution. The Shelbourne, Autograph Collection

The Horseshoe Bar: This sophisticated, popular Dublin treasure stocks a connoisseur’s selection of whisky, Irish and other (closed Wednesday-Thursday).

The 1824 Bar: Intimate and clubby, the 1824’s host (bartender) has encyclopedic knowledge of rare spirits, champagne, wine and cocktails. (closed Monday-Tuesday).

Lord Mayor’s Lounge: Afternoon tea is both savoury and sweet with dainty sandwiches and delicate petit fours and an exotic choice of brews. The setting is a sumptuous Victorian parlour and the tableware is Villeroy and Boch.

One last accolade: “The Shelbourne is a remarkable ambassador for Dublin, and afternoon tea in the Lord Mayor’s Lounge is a splendid tradition that reflects our hospitality history,” said Lord Mayor of Dublin Daithí de Róiste.

The magnificent spa lounge at the Shelbourne in Dublin promises an indulgent wellness sojourn.
The magnificent spa lounge at the Shelbourne in Dublin promises an indulgent wellness sojourn. The Shelbourne, Autograph Collection

If you go

Air Canada flies Toronto-Dublin four times weekly through winter and daily in other seasons. Montreal-Dublin is three times a week, approximately May through September (aircanada.com).

The Shelbourne, Autograph Collection: 353-1-663-4500 (direct) or 800-228-9290  (Marriott), theshelbourne.com; 27 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin, Ireland.  Marriott Bonvoy program applies. Accessible.

Rates: from approximately CDN$825 (holidays might be higher), including evening turndown, Clef d’Or concierge, indoor pool (children have restricted hours), fitness centre, spa facilities, bathrobes, Elemis bath products, coffee corner. Extra: Health Club classes, spa treatments.

Tourism Ireland / Fáilte Ireland: Ireland.com; visitdublin.com.

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