With hotel rates on the spike and staycation season about to hit the summer peak, Dublin has never needed a new hotel offering more.
So, say hello to the city’s latest four-star option, The Samuel. Located along the gleaming Spencer Dock district, The Samuel, is named after Beckett — and indeed his eponymous bridge — and brings a more ‘indie’ offering from Ireland’s largest hotel group, Dalata. The people who brought you the Clayton and Maldron brand have high hopes for this property and I checked in last month, straight after its April launch, to see if it’s worth the hotel hype.
Not only is the hotel brand new, but so too is much of the block it is built on, just off North Wall Quay. The hotel brands itself as being set in the “heart of Dublin” but hopping off the Luas at Spenser Dock on a Sunday afternoon, there’s more off a quiet campus feel to the district rather than anything pulsating, though I imagine that’s a different story on a weekday with the footfall from Salesforce, We Work and Pinterest, all headquartered on the same block.
Inside, the lobby features an attractive Art Deco style reception flanked with a smattering of stylish seating areas which all give the area a Scandi-meets-1920’s look. Some of the furnishings lack the luxury factor of some other four-star properties I’ve visited but it still feels fresh and new and after a short line amid a mix of international guests, I’m soon checked in.
The Samuel is home to an impressive 204 rooms which feel remarkably well absorbed by the hotel’s flow. I was staying in one of The Samuel’s executive king pads, an 8th floor corner room with views over the docklands that offer a flood of lights as soon as I open the door. It’s a bright, spacious, comfortable room in a colour scheme of silver and mustard and views overlooking the Liffey atop that king bed almost lend a cruise ship feel. The en-suite (shower only) is a slick and contemporary slate grey affair and there are also complimentary bathrobes and slippers for Netflix ‘n Chill nights. It’s a really fine room but given the colour scheme and furnishings, it feels and looks so much like a Maldron, it could also be one. Prospective guests should also note that while about half of the hotel’s rooms offer city views, the rest receive natural light by overlooking an inner vestibule which feels more anonymous. But I’m just happy to soak in those views and watch the city scape twinkle below.
Dining at the hotel centres around The Samuel’s Bar & Grill of the same name located on the ground floor. It’s a beautifully designed Grand Cáfé style restaurant dripping with Art Deco touches as well as pops of colourful prints of various Dublin sights and figures, not least Beckett himself. Chef Daniel Byrne is billed as curating a “globally influenced” menu fuelled by locally sourced produce and there’s a pretty extensive choice from the usual grill favourites to Jamaican ribs, Chole Marsala curries to Mediterranean pan-fried sea bass.
I went veggie and opted for a very decent warm goats cheese salad which was bountiful and very reasonably priced for a starter these days at €8.50. For my main, two fine slabs of halloumi served on a bed of artichokes and cherry tomatoes (€17) hit the spot. Things went a little off track with dessert with the specifically marked gluten-free chocolate mousse served upon a suspicious-looking biscuit, which transpired was not in fact gluten free. An oversight which could have marred the meal was my gluten-free radar not on point. Breakfast, which is an all-buffet affair, was a lot more on the money in that regard. There were gluten-free croissants and breads as well as a gluten free toaster which is a welcome addition to the breakfast buffet set-up. I opted for a mix of fresh fruit and gluten-free muesli which came hot from the kitchen and elsewhere, you can expect the full gauntlet of modern Irish breakfast spreads, from self-serve Full Irish stations to mini-smoothies, cheese and charcuterie. Staff are excellent, particularly Maitre D’ diamond Mag from Gdansk who gives all guests the VIP treatment.
Breakfast rates typically add €16 per person so if you’re not a big morning eater, consider opting for the room rates and picking up a coffee and pastry at Red Roastery, the hotel’s own independent coffee roastery located downstairs which aims to be a popular local for not just guests but locals too.
The Samuel is a fine hotel and offers a hotel experience consistent with its sister hospitality portfolios, Clayton and Maldron.
In terms of a brand, it was just a pity to me that the hotel felt so much like the twin property rather than a sister property to the Maldron-style and the rooms in particular seemed to have missed an opportunity to stamp their own individuality.
That’s not to detract from the hotel’s own merits and it makes a fine base, particularly for those heading for the Three Arena, The Convention Centre or The Bord Gais Energy Theatre.
Would gladly stay again.