YOU just can’t help yourself. There’s no escaping the slightest sense of intimidation as you walk through the entrance of the five-star InterContinental, opened (naturally) by the doorman, complete with top hat.
My experiences of the Four Seasons (the hotel changed ownership just this year) were Celtic Tiger-driven press launches and parties, semi-celebs posing for the social pages in the Ice Bar.
Inside the hotel, however, the intimidation and old prejudices vanish the moment we approach the check-in desk.
Down to earth, relaxed, yet utterly professional, the staff will be the key to the InterContinental’s success.
Devoted to the hotel, relieved it has survived the turmoil of recession, and excited at the prospect of change, Ida, our server at dinner, was just a standout. Truth be told, we enjoyed her anecdotes so much, we wished she could have joined us.
She left her native Bali in 2001 to join the Four Seasons when it opened in Dublin. Today, Dublin is home; she has her own “Biddy and Paddy,” she tells us. But more on dinner later.
Our suite was enormous — a hallway, living room, bedroom, and marble bathroom, with full-length windows throughout (the black out blinds ensured a lie-in the next morning).
The bed was the standout. I sank into it so deeply I could have sworn there was an imprint on the mattress the next morning. It was the cosiest bed I have ever slept in.
My travelling companion was allergic to the feather pillows, but no bother. A call down to reception and new pillows were with us in minutes. Like I said, sensational staff.
Dinner was served in the casual, and very small, dining room, with others eating in the conservatory (breakfast is in another, enormous dining area, next door).
We loved the intimate vibe over dinner and we savoured the stunning art work on the walls.
I had roasted cod with fennell puree and crushed horseradish, €19. The sides were sensational. I tried the baked sweet potato with feta and chorizo. The spicy beans with garlic and chilli looked divine too.
The 12-minute chocolate cake, unfortunately, took every second of that time to prepare and more, and we had to leave before it was ready (to my utter devastation).
The next morning we ate breakfast in the traditional dining room. Breakfast is pricey for walk-ins, but as guests it was all part of the package. I adored the food. A pot of coffee was welcome — the usual small cup in hotels never quite suffices.
The Sunday papers were on tap. I loved the scrambled eggs and sausages with just a hint of spice. I requested the sublime walnut bread, the hotel’s signature which I had eaten at dinner, and it was just as wonderful toasted.
After breakfast it was down to the spa.
My treatment was without doubt one of the nicest I’ve experienced — an hour-long full body massage that struck the perfect balance between easing muscle tension and relaxation.
You know it’s a good sign when you have to be roused at the end of a treatment. The relaxation area was small, admittedly, but it served its purpose. There was no time to try the pool but it looked everything you’d expect from a five-star.
As we left, people were tucking into Sunday brunch.
We could only wish we could have stayed and joined them, if only to order that 12-minute chocolate cake...
The InterContinental, Simmonscourt Rd, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. 01 6654000; www.intercontinentaldublin.ie
The Suite Treats package is available over selected dates, starting from €268pps per night, including bubbles on arrival, two nights in a deluxe room, full Irish breakfast each morning, a spa treatment, and a three-course dinner on one night in the Reading Room restaurant.