Despite being one-eighth Irish (along with 99% of the British population), I have to confess that it took me a full 28 years until I took the opportunity to hop over to the Emerald Isle and discover what Dublin had to offer. With a mere 24 hours to explore the Irish Capital location was key, and so The Westbury Hotel in the Doyle Collection was a natural choice of place to stay. Cue a very, very short sub-hour flight from London Gatwick to Dublin Airport.
A 5-star jewel in the crown of the Doyle Collection (a family-owned luxury hotel group with an international portfolio of city centre properties), The Westbury Hotel is a slice of elegance and charm nestled in the heart of Ireland’s most recognised city. The reception area and foyer greet you with all of the dazzle of a classic hotel, with a distinct level of detail in the decor and service. Whisked away to our rooms after check-in, we had a short time to admire the interior before heading back downstairs for lunch in Balfes, the resident deli/brasserie that occupies the ground floor.
Food was a huge part of our stay at The Westbury Hotel, and lunch in Balfes kicked things off in style. Ordering a salad so not to ruin my appetite, a mountain of chicken and superfood-goodness arrived at the table. It was the perfect balance of flavours with the serving size of an all-American dish which did not disappoint. It was lovely to converse over a good lunch and the whole of Balfes felt relaxed, yet atmospheric, with a constant stream of locals and tourists alike, entering and exiting the street-level doors.
The itinerary that afternoon involved a walking tour of the local streets to sample what the local fashion scene had to offer. Led by Deirdre McQuillan, Fashion Editor of the Irish Times, we spent the afternoon perusing the local artisan shops and all of their wares. An eclectic mix of linens, hats, leather goods and excellent cheeses kept us suitably entertained and intrigued throughout the entire experience, with Deirdre (in her fabulous yellow coat) being incredibly informative in her narration of the local trade.
Post-tour we had a few hours to relax and nap back at The Westbury Hotel (in an effort to ride out the food coma), before heading down to The Sidecar bar for a couple of pre-dinner drinks. The traditional French Martini was refreshing and sharp, made even more special by the theatre of an actual Martini Trolley being wheeled out, complete with rose gold cocktail shakers and exquisite crystal glassware. After having a couple of drinks and nibbles, it was then time to head next door to The Westbury’s newly launched restaurant, WILDE.
Billed as Dublin’s most Instagrammable dining spot, the restaurant is postcard perfect with open fire places and an indoor/outdoor terrace providing a cosy yet sophisticated atmosphere. Cue a three-course meal that would put Henry VIII to shame; copious amounts of perfectly cooked meat and vegetables that once again shared amongst ourselves with portion sizes that would test even the most seasoned eater. The highlights for me were the immaculately cooked fillet steak, the mac n cheese and, surprisingly, the abundant al dente green vegetables that blanketed the table. Still, there was just enough time to squeeze in dessert and a rum Old Fashioned before heading off to bed.
The next day was spent at leisure, save for a couple of appointments back at the dining table. Breakfast at Balfes was a great opportunity to explore the Bodybyrne menu; engineered to be high-protein alternatives to typical morning choices. The oat pancakes were absolutely heavenly, packing real flavour and punch, with a three-egg omelette not disappointing at all. It was great to indulge without over-indulging, and I feel that the Bodybyrne selection really sets Balfes apart from your typical morning eatery.
As our trip slowly wound to an end, we had just enough time to wander the streets of Dublin before returning to The Westbury for a champagne afternoon tea. What struck me about Dublin is that, despite it being a city, there was a real sense of community and a local atmosphere that many other major cities fail to create. It may have just been the sunshine, but there were smiles on people’s faces an chatter in the air. Everyone seemed to be friends or acquaintances.
So, to the final chapter in our short story over in Dublin. Afternoon tea at The Westbury Hotel is something of an institution and, although our bellies were very full from breakfast, we mustered up the appetite to tuck into a sugary session of food and drink. Each sandwich was excellently prepared, and the pastries had the hallmark attention to detail we recognised from our numerous trips to Dalloway Terrace back in London (also a member of the Doyle Collection). Washed down with a few glasses of champagne and the obligatory cup of tea, it was soon time to leave. Dublin and The Westbury Hotel had given us so many reasons to love the Irish Capital, yet so many reasons to go back.