Back to the future for Dublin's Dylan Hotel

Back to the future for Dublin's Dylan Hotel
Commercial heartland: Buildings including RIAI silver medal (housing) winner Alto Vetro by Shay Cleary Architects. Picture: Kevin Woods

IT’S soaring in popularity as an urban pastime and crane-counting was very firmly on the agenda when I took up a challenge to find out just how much I could pack into a 24-hour architectural and interiors fact-finding mission in Dublin.

Of course, Cork’s own skyline is drawing all eyes upwards at the moment, so those of us Wildlings who breached the Wall to storm the capital were determined not to be completely agog. But our knowledgeable Pied Piper, architect Louise Finlayson, and the architectural gems themselves charmed even the most hardline out-of-towners among us as well as enchanting the homegrown Dubliners in the group.

Commercial heart

We started our tour by driving from leafy Baggot Street into the city centre and then walking along the bustling docklands.

Buildings that have won prizes in the recent Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland Awards lined the way and our trek culminated in a climb to the rooftop of the Grant Thornton building, by Henry J Lyons Architects, winner in the RIAI New Build Workplace category. From this perch, we surveyed landmark buildings across Dublin’s commercial heartland, gazing out over a panorama that takes in the Custom House, Central Bank and Poolbeg Tower.

A focal point on Upper Baggot Street is the Royal City of Dublin Hospital. Commonly known as Baggot Street Hospital, it was renamed in 1900 to coincide with visit of Queen Victoria. Designed by renowned architect Albert Edward Murray, the landmark building has close links with our base for our 24-hour stay — the Dylan Hotel. The hotel, also designed by Murray, recently unveiled a stylish renovation by Gráinne Weber Architects.

Since it opened over a decade ago, this five-star venue has been a haunt of choice of soigné sybarites of all ages. Built in 1901, the Dylan is housed in an impressive Victorian building that was originally a home for the nurses working in the nearby hospital.

And what is most intriguing about the Dylan’s recent revamp is how it has preserved its sense of history and links with the Royal City of Dublin Hospital. Old photographs of the nurses from different eras are integrated within the newly designed spaces and you’ll also spot original architectural drawings by Albert Edward Murray.

Badge of honour

The exterior of the Dylan Hotel.
The exterior of the Dylan Hotel.

Meanwhile, the badge the nurses from the hospital received upon completion of their training inspired the five-star hotel’s embossed menus and even the uniforms worn by staff recall the building’s past. 

“Details of the uniforms the nurses wore in old photographs, lend visual cues to the uniforms worn by staff today, complete with pussycat bows,” says hotel general manager Conor Dillon.

Gráinne Weber Architects stripped back the entire ground floor when adding the 21st-century renovations yet the understated elegance is very much in keeping with the original style of the building.

All the clearly defined areas, including the new cocktail bar, restaurant and terrace, serve to develop the personality of the building’s history.

The partially covered terrace (a magnet for chic functions) is called The Nurserie. While it’s ultra-modern, the terrace’s name is a nod to the Dylan’s former use as well as living up to the more modern concept of a nursery, as this south-facing space is filled with a mix of plants (Victorian-style, of course), including tree ferns. “The Nurserie is an urban oasis,” adds Conor.

Close by is the residents’ cocktail room — a cosy hideaway that harks back to the building’s heritage. It’s called the Ruby Room — named after Miss Ruby Stokes, who was matron for the Royal City of Dublin Hospital from 1927-1960.

Strategic location

Her quarters were strategically located on the ground floor so Ruby could keep a close eye on her nurse charges, ensuring no gentlemen were allowed past reception and all curfews were enforced. Ruby’s former bedroom, office and sitting room now form the new cocktail bar.

Here the talented team of mixologists will whizz up a mocktail or cocktail precisely to your tastes.

Another matron of the Royal City of Dublin Hospital, Miss Edith Annie Eddison, is remembered in the name of the hotel’s restaurant, The Eddison. Edith led the team of nurses that tended to the wounded who streamed into the hospital during the 1916 Rising.

The Eddison features two terraces, while a moss installation, designed by Bronagh Harte of Ginkgo Flowers, hangs from the ceiling, creating a unique focal point in the restaurant. “This live installation will change seasonally to reflect the foliage outdoors,” says Conor. “In addition, The Eddison’s menu changes monthly to showcase the Irish produce at its best.”

Welcoming space

The hotel lobby has also undergone a makeover, complete with Italian marble and parquet wood flooring, on which sit two handcrafted oak side desks created by Irish furniture maker John Lee. The lobby boasts opulent forest green and jade furniture, along with original Max Ingrand mid-century glass lighting fixtures, which are set against crisp, clean and detailed columns.

Designed to bring guests on a journey through the hotel, the lobby leads onto the new-look Dylan Bar.

- For more details or to make reservations, visit www.dylan.ie, follow Dylan on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and The Eddison on Instagram, @theeddison

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