February 05, 2015

Reasons I Am Now Really Obsessed With Dublin

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For someone so obsessed with Ireland, I can’t believe I’d never been there (obsessed for so many reasons: the sense of community; the fashion, especially Irish fashion bloggers; St Patrick’s Day, oh and also, my major crush on Chris O’Dowd.) It had always been on “my list” of places to visit. I mean, it’s down the ROAD for goodness sake. I guess I’d assumed Dublin would be an old town with lots of pubs and LOTS of Guinness and full of hen dos. How WRONG COULD I HAVE BEEN? And I now feel bad for thinking that, because it really is SO so much more. I had the best time and I am about to tell you all the reasons why (and why you should also plan a weekend getaway to Dublin asap).

Last weekend I went on a trip with four other lovely lifestyle/food bloggers to Dublin to stay at the Westbury Hotel: a 5 star hotel situated right in the heart of Dublin and a member of Leading Hotels of the World. In short: it’s really, really rather nice.

We were in Dublin for 24 hours, which seems like a short time but it took less than an hour to fly there from Heathrow and it felt like we’d been there for ages because we’d packed so much in. So here’s what we did:

The Westbury Hotel OMFG

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NO WORDS. This hotel is so lovely and welcoming. The beds were enormous four poster beds that allowed you to roll over five times without falling out. Beds that are big enough to get totally lost in are one of my all-time favourite things in life. SLEEP! DUVETS! PILLOWS! We had a tour of all the different suites within the hotel and upon entering the presidential suite we set our eyes on the bed that had slept both AUDREY HEPBURN and Johnny Depp (not together) and also Simon Cowell (plus LOADS others, but these are the ones I remember). The room had it’s own sauna and steam room, so obviously I immediately imagined Simon Cowell in his speedos and everyone groaned at the thought of it.

In between the tour and dinner we all went back to our rooms for a bubble bath (the bathrooms are gorgeous too) with the hotel manager Joseph calling the room to make sure we had everything we needed. It was these little touches that made all the difference. We were also left caramel chocolates on the bed, champagne and flowers, and a bottle of perfume from the amazing Irish store Brown Thomas (which is nicer than Selfridges in my opinion!)

We Went On An Amazing Fashion and Food Tour

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This tour was extra brilliant due to the fact that were shown around by the amazing Deirdre Mcquillan, fashion editor of the Irish Times. Deirdre was fun, enthusiastic and not to mention a mega talented journalist who knows EVERYONE IN DUBLIN! This meant that she gave us the “back tour”, the places we would never have discovered on our own which meant we avoided all the mega touristy places and any aimless walking.

First of all we visited Parfumarija, an amazing boutique perfume shop full of rare scents. We had a little talk given to us from Founder & Creative Director Marija Aslimoska who curates a handpicked collection of some of the world’s finest niche perfumes. My favourites were the scent of a “man’s sperm” (no joke) and “fat electrician” (no, really). She explained though, that these aren’t gimmicks. They are meant to be truthful, and artistic.

We then checked out the famous Temple Bar and had some fresh oysters on the side of the road. I felt like Dublin was a best kept secret, all this amazing stuff was around every corner without it being saturated, or difficult to get to (in the words of Ollie “in London, we’d be queuing for this”). Steven, who sold us the Oysters, yelled “these will make you randy!” and after that, we felt like the ice was well and truly broken.

Afterwards, we were taken up to a studio down a back-street. “Where are we going?” we asked Deirdre, as we went up some tiny tumbledown steps leading up to a door with a sign saying “Sean” with a mobile number next to the hand-written name. Deirdre tapped her nose. “You’ll see in a minute!”

This was the fun thing about the tour, she wouldn’t let us know where we were going next. Each venue was a surprise. Sean was a jewellery maker with 35+ years of experience. He was one of the MOST interesting people I think I’ve ever heard speak about their craft. “Stones get me hot and bothered” he’d say, when talking about all the different jewels he’d made in the past. To make his living he said he makes a few “fuck off expensive pieces” throughout the year. For example, one of his clients is Sean Penn and “a rock star” who wouldn’t be named. We were pretty sure it was Bono. I loved his passion about jewellery and the fact that it’s a personal thing, it should never just be about “how big a rock is”. After all, he said that “really rich people would buy a hidden diamond. It’s more classy.” Basically, I want to go to the pub with Sean.

We also went to a bar that hadn’t yet officially opened! OOH. It looked like number 10 Downing Street from the outside called 10 St Stephen Green and we had to ring a secret doorbell to let us in the big heavy black door. I had a French martini. It was delicious.

Brown Thomas Department Store

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We got lost in the amazingness of Brown Thomas for a good while. They have EVERYTHING. It’s like our equivalent of Harvey Nichols – owned by the Selfridges group. We had a lovely hand massage by the ladies at Jo Malone and some testers of all the best eye cremes. DREAMY. I had a look around at all the amazing clothes and discovered a new brand called Self Portrait. (Also I couldn’t afford, or fit into, any of the Alexa Chung for AG jeans garments, mind. Oh well, you live and you learn.)

Met Some Other Amazing Bloggers

I also wanted to give a shout out to the other bloggers I met on the trip. I met Niamh Shields from the amazing foodie blog Eat Like A Girl (Niamh is also Irish so she met us out there, which also meant we learned even more about the culture from her own personal ancedotes which was amazing). I also met Emma Bates from My London Lifestyle who imparted her amazing smoothie recipe wisdom and Jess from the Travelista blog – a luxury travel blog who was really great fun all round.

We Ate Really Great Food

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We ate at the hotel restaurant called Balfes which was AMAZING. (BUT I am going to review the food in a separate post so stay tuned.) We also tasted some of the most AMAZING salmon bagels known to (wo)man at a place called the Pepper Pot. The guys that made them were part of the “slow food” movement which meant that everything is totally fresh and does not last longer than a day. Softest bagels I’ve ever tasted. Puts my bagel-making to shame.

Learned Loads About The Culture

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We went to the Little Museum of Dublin. This is the cutest museum with multiple floors and the sun streaming in. There’s a room dedicated to U2 which is quite hilarious – and apparently Bono visited the museum once IN DISGUISE. It was really cool learning about the history of the city, the rooms are scattered with pictures, memorabilia and objects – categorized into decades. I also found out that the whole museum was curated based on people donating things they’d found in their attic. Gives it a really nice “for the people, by the people” vibe.

SO HERE’S SOME MORE INFORMATION INCASE YOU’RE PLANNING ON VISITING (which you totally should):

The Westbury Hotel:

Old-world charm meets vibrant creativity in Dublin’s metropolitan heart at The Westbury Hotel, a member of Leading Hotels of the World.
For reservations visit www.doylecollection.com/westburyhotel or call +352 (1) 679 1122. Follow The Westbury Hotel on Facebook www.facebook.com/TheWestburyHotel, Twitter at @WestburyDublin
Rates start from €230 B&B.

Balfes:

Balfes is an all-day dining brasserie and uptown bar with Parisian and New York influences. Balfes is open from 8am until late from Monday to Friday and from 10am until late on Saturday and Sunday. To make a booking, call +353 (1) 646 3353. Or visit www.balfes.ie. Join Balfes on Facebook www.facebook.com/balfesdublin, Twitter @BalfesDublin or Instagram @BalfesDublin.

Aer Lingus:

Aer Lingus fly daily from London Heathrow to Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Belfast City airports and from London Gatwick to Dublin and Knock airports. Fares start from £45.99 one-way including taxes and charges for travel to up to 30th April 2015. For more information visit www.aerlingus.com

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