Weekend break: The Cliff Townhouse, St Stephen's Green, Dublin

Catherine Shanahan experienced Georgian Dublin at its finest at the Cliff Townhouse on St Stephen’s Green.

Weekend break: The Cliff Townhouse, St Stephen's Green, Dublin

"Two is doable,” a friend warned when I was pregnant with number three.

“But you’re goosed with the third. Once this baby comes, people will run for cover.”

The ‘friend’, a father-of-three, was speaking from experience.

Offers to babysit would dry up and I would never again have a child-free weekend unless I could organise and mobilise faster than Napoleon.

I put his theory to the test when offered an overnight stay in the capital.

If Hannibal could cross the Alps with half his force intact, and a couple of elephants, three children were hardly an obstacle.

I put out a few feelers for a babysitter, but with no take-up locally, I headed for the outlaws in Roscommon. It was a circuitous route to Dublin but beggars can’t be choosers.

And so on a Baltic night, we pulled up, child-free, outside the Cliff Townhouse on St Stephen’s Green, a mere seven hours after departure.

The warmth of the vaulted entrance hall awash with twinkling Christmas lights was a joy to the travel weary.

We were shown upstairs to our Parkview room overlooking St Stephen’s Green.

A plaque on the door gave a nod to one of our literary legends.

With its double sash windows, Georgian-style writing desk and original marble fireplace, it was a fitting tribute to the poet WB Yeats.

In fact it was Georgian Dublin at its finest — but then you’d expect nothing less when overnighting in what was once home to the Earl of Shelbourne.

While I freshened up, my other half drove to the nearby St Stephen’s Green carpark where, for the very reasonable sum of €17.50, he deposited the car for 24 hours.

Because of its central location, the Townhouse does not have visitor parking, but an agreement with the carpark operator means Townhouse patrons get good value for money.

We had plenty of time to fit in a visit to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) the following day, as well as a leisurely browse around Temple Bar.

IMMA (on the Luas line) is well worth a visit if only to see the Asgard’s final resting place, the yacht infamous for its involvement in the 1914 Howth gun running.

Back at the Townhouse, we headed downstairs for dinner to the Oyster Bar & Restaurant, zinging with festive spirit.

First stop, drinks at the bar’s marble-topped counter where amiable barman Sean Tiernan guided us through the extensive menu.

We had previously enjoyed fine dining at the hands of Dutch Michelin-star chef Martijn Kajuiter at the Cliff House in Ardmore, Co Waterford, and so had high expectations of this sister hotel and restaurant.

Sean Smith is the chef putting in the hours on the ground in Dublin — he previously worked under Richard Corrigan when the Oyster was known as Bentley’s.

On the recommendation of Mr Tiernan, I opted for Dublin Bay Prawns Tempura while my other half had Irish crab.

The tempura was to die for. The crab, fabulous.

Next up, fish pie for himself, which, in a seafood restaurant, is unlikely to hit a bum note.

I had Atlantic halibut on a bed of grilled leeks, cockles, muscles, and chives.

I can never hope to replicate such perfection in my own kitchen. I had rhubarb jelly for desert — sounds basic, taste — superlative.

The wines were recommended by Biago, the Italian head waiter, and my advice is to let him steer you. I had both red and white Italian wines and they were divine.

As a little treat, he brought us a beautiful glass of Armagnac, as lovely to inhale as to sip.

Overall, a top-notch feed in the most convivial of surroundings where restaurant supervisor Bim kept the show going with the skill of an orchestra conductor.

After dinner we headed upstairs to an elegant cocktail bar adjacent to a private dining room, a popular spot for milestone celebrations such as engagements and birthdays, and special occasion lunches, both mid-week and weekends.

I didn’t venture beyond this bar — the Arctic weather and a very full belly put paid to any notions of a pub crawl and to be honest, I had no interest in leaving the Townhouse.

It was a late night so the super kingsize bed with its crisp white sheets was a joy to roll into.

Breakfast the next morning was equally appreciated, starting with freshly squeezed orange juice, followed by fresh fruit salad with Glenilen Yoghurt.

I followed up with eggs florentine with spinach which again, I can never hope to replicate.

All of this was served to the accompaniment of freshly prepared breads.

We made pigs of ourselves rounding off with pastries and coffee but it was simply too good not to.

After checkout, we headed out around the city and the location of the Townhouse makes this incredibly easy, sited, as it is, in a neighbourhood steeped in culture and history.

In fact the Townhouse is pretty much the ultimate destination for a weekend city break, a stone’s throw from Grafton St and Temple Bar and just a 10-minute walk to Trinity College.

A particular point of interest for the year that’s in it are the bullet holes in the façade of the nearby Royal College of Surgeons — a legacy of 1916 Easter Rising when rebel forces occupied the building.

  • WB Yeats Parkview Room €205 B&B low season, €215 high season
  • Townhouse room (not overlooking St Stephen’s Green) €185 low season, €195 high season www.theclifftownhouse.com 

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