I don't think we have a world class hotel in Dublin. The Merrion is as close as it comes but I've always thought their stiff upper lip style is more suited to the IMF and Jean Claud Trichet then something that us Dubliners can relate to. The Four Seasons screams Celtic Tiger excess and is trying to find it's way in a more understate world. Perhaps the closest we have is the Shelbourne with it's classy bar and iconic lobby but it appeals to a slightly older crowd. I'd love to see something like the Ace Hotel in New York, Soho House in Berlin or London's Shoredich. Great hotels should be places where tourists are joined by locals who are proud to drink, eat and socialise there.
One spot in Dublin that was always way ahead of it's time was the Morrison. When it opened it was like nothing we'd seen here in the capital with it's designer lobby, dark bar and uber chic vibe. I don't really know what happened over the last 5/6 years but the place just went downhill and felt like a washed up actor who wasn't getting the lead roles anymore and who'd settled on cashing cheques rather than winning Oscars. Luckily the Morrison clearly noticed their plight and just like Matthew Mconighey they've gone off and found themselves by completely overhauling the place and giving it a facelift. The result is a sleek modern foyer that includes a bar, restaurant, Grill and reception. They've gutted the entire reception and it's brought a whole new energy, light and vibe back to a room that was dying a slow dark death.
I'd been wandering around town on a busy Saturday and just wanted somewhere chilled to work and get a bite to eat without having to deal with all the gobshites in for their weekly excursion intend on stabbing you with their shopping bags and blocking the streets wandering like aimless creatures out into every main street disrupting traffic. Stepping into the Morrison was like an Oasis of calm and they put me in a good mood straight away by not having to ask for the WIFI password as it was just an open network. I'd a coke and a water as I had a serious thirst on me and I was delighted to see a bunch of stuff on the menu I wanted. Hotel menus are tricky because you are catering for about 20 different types of customers throughout the day from drunk rugby fans to ladies who lunch right through to business travellers wanting a quick meal. They nail it here because all the classics are there like B.L.T and club but there are a bunch of other grilled meats and pastas to keep it interesting for the locals. A nicer more complete menu with something for everybody you won't find in this city.
My roast chicken breast took about 25 minutes to come when ordered and I could taste why. If food comes in less than 5/10 minutes the chances are it is being reheated and just slapped into an oven but my chicken breast had clearly been cooked from scratch hence the wait and the result was divine. A bit of Cavalo Nero (fancy Italian cabbage), fondant potato and some swede puree and I was fucking delighted with the result. This wasn't anything more than a snobby roast dinner but it was done well and with lots of love. Had I not been in such fancy surroundings I'd have picked up the plate and licked it clean.
I hadn't planned on having a dessert but the whole experience was so relaxing and such I joy that I said "fuck it sure why not". Warm pecan tart was something I' never heard of before but I was glad I went with it. Although it came on a stupidly large plate it was awesome. I thought I'd cracked a filling or something but it turned out to be popping candy on the top of the dessert. Splendid little touch that reminded me of my childhood.
The only issue people will have here is the price. I paid 40 Euros including tip for 2 courses and a couple of drinks which is expensive when you consider what you could get across the road in any number of places. You are paying for the proper napkins, the super service and the quality ingredients though. I didn't feel rushed out of the place nor did I have kids running around screaming at tables beside me. You don't always want to pay way over the odds for something but the odd time you don't mind.
I love the new Morrison. It's a proper little boutique hotel again and the work they've done on the branding and creating a "space" in the lobby is superb. We've a long way to go in terms of creating world class hotels in Dublin (ironically some of the best in Ireland are outside the capital) but this is a step in the right direction. I've always had a soft spot for the Morrison because of their location and views out over the Liffey into Temple Bar and this revamp puts it firmly back in Dublin's top 5 hotels.