Our city hotels are in trouble. As Ireland makes its staycation escape for the great outdoors and the western wilds, hotel bookings in our major towns are tanking nationwide.
Dublin, one of Europe’s most popular city breaks (which clocked 5 million tourists last year), is reeling most. According to the Irish Hotels Federation, the capital’s occupancy rate sits at just 17% for August - with September looking even gloomier.
For the consumer, that means a silver lining. Now, hotel rates in our often prohibitively pricey capital are sinking to woo a demand with many formerly out-of-reach hotels within our price point. Yes, Dublin could well be Ireland’s best value escape.
To scope out the value first hand, earlier this month I travelled to The Wilder Townhouse in Dublin, a four-stay boutique bolthole located in leafy Adelaide Road.
The hotel opened in 2018 as uniquely residents-only property, but that policy will today appeal to visitors seeking a city base high on personal space, low on bustle.
And low on bustle it is. Rocking up to its impressive Victorian facade on a summer Monday night, occupancy is so low, I feel like I’ve landed at purple mansion on a Monopoly board rather than a city hotel.
Host Alannah welcomes me in like an old friend before showing me around the hotel’s gorgeous but largely vacant common areas. For many, this lack of buzz could be a little off-putting, but as someone who favours calm over crowds, I’m one happy camper.
The Wilder offers a number of room sizes from shoebox to king doubles and I was stepping it up with a stay in their top floor Lady Audley suite. As a sister of the Montenotte Hotel in Cork, design plays a strong game here.
The 1840’s room with a 1920’s twist features a velvet furnished living area, gilded geometric mirrors, pops of botanical prints and signature basset hound door-stops that welcome throughout.
There are some design-by-numbers features (ubiquitous golden pineapples, for example) but as a sucker for Art Deco design, for a gorgeous subway tiled bathroom, and for a sink-in king bed, the room almost functions like a dream period apartment I’d gladly cocoon in.
That’s if Dublin wasn’t right outside! That evening, I met friends for cocktails, chats and pizza from Sano off Dame Street, and enjoyed a gloriously relaxed summer’s night in the capital.
The Wilder offered an ideal base to enjoy a date with an albeit different Dublin. But even with the city feeling a little unplugged, I left feeling a lot more recharged.
The Wilder doesn’t operate a full-service restaurant but its charming Garden Room offers residents afternoon light bites from tasty charcuterie plates to Irish cheese boards. The hotel’s Gin & Tea Rooms centre around a delicious walnut and marble bar, from which bar-tender Ryan served me up a punchy negroni on the hotel’s petunia-packed terrace.
Now’s a great time to fall in love with a summery Dublin and The Wilder offers a handy base to bud the romance. Just on your doorstep, take a stroll around the beautiful Iveagh Gardens, visit the city’s quirky Little Museum of Dublin or dine at neighbourhood hot-spots like Sprezzatura on Camden Market. Don’t forget - Dublin doesn’t have to be just a city break. If you’re craving nature, the Dublin Mountains Way in Shankill lies just a 20 minute drive from the city.
Regardless of all the fancy plusses, a hotel’s rate ultimately does the talking. And I think The Wilder hits the money. Their current “Summer Staycation” package for €169 includes a one night stay for two in a Small Double (king bed) room, with a welcome bottle of Prosecco and Irish strawberries on arrival.
Breakfast is also included in the rate. Given its location, extras, and overall pizzazz just a few thread counts short of five-star, that’s a pretty neat deal - particularly when compared to double-the-price offerings elsewhere in Ireland.
Beyond The Wilder, there’s plenty of excellent value across the capital. One of my favourite Dublin hotels, the Hyatt Centric in the Liberties has August rates from €88 - including breakfast!
And don’t overlook that the most affordable Dublin deals can currently be found at the city’s airport hotels.
The Clayton Dublin Airport, my constant go-to when I’m flying, has hundreds of rooms to shift per night from €75.
That’s a great rate and handy base for families thinking a Tayto Park excursion one day and a Dublin day-out the next. Thomas stayed as a guest of The Wilder.