Want to take the stress out of Christmas shopping? Denise O’Donoghue enjoys a festive break in the heart of Dublin city
The fires are crackling, ornaments hang from the branches of a Christmas tree, and Santa himself is enjoying a well earned rest by the fire. It’s not a scene from the North Pole, but the lobby of the Westin Hotel in Dublin.
My mother and I took a pre-Christmas trip to the capital to soak up the festive atmosphere of Dublin and the Westin was the perfect base from which we could explore the city. The five star hotel is ideally located beside Trinity College, and it’s a five minute walk one way to Grafton Street, and to O’Connell Street the other.
Although the road outside is currently busy with roadworks, the noises did not disturb us inside the hotel. In fact, it's clear the work taking place - the laying of Luas lines, which will be completed shortly - will become an asset to the hotel as it will allow guests to travel without hinderance to the hotel from Dublin city centre, Heuston Station, or Connolly Station.
The lack of a direct connection from the train station at the moment, however, doesn't negatively impact our trip. We strolled from the Luas stop by Jervis Shopping Centre en route to the hotel, taking in the sights and stopping at a few shops along the way.
We were greeted warmly upon arrival by staff. George and his team were perfect ambassadors for the hospitality for which Ireland is famous. Although now part of an international hotel chain, the Westin has not lost its traditional charm.
Our fifth floor twin room was perfect for our needs, with plenty of space for shopping bags, a lovely bath to soak your aching muscles, and tea and coffee-making facilities to enjoy after battling through crowds of shoppers. There was even a balcony offering a view over the city.
If you still need to finish your Christmas shopping, but you don’t relish the thoughts of fighting through hectic crowds, the Westin has teamed up with Arnotts to offer a ‘Gift Butler’ service this month, fronted by their friendly concierge, Darragh.
Guests at the Westin throughout December can provide a shopping list to the ‘Gift Butler’, who will purchase the items for them in Arnotts, wrap the presents, and deliver them to your room. There is no minimum amount to spend to use the service, and if you are unsure what to get for someone, the ‘Gift Butler’ will work with a personal shopper to find the perfect present.
In my eyes, this is a great service, especially if you plan to buy bulkier items but want avoid dragging them around town with you.
After own own day of shopping, we ate that evening in the Mint Bar, each of us opting to enjoy a burger.
The Mint Bar can be found in the basement of the Westin, and in a former life was the vault of the bank. The whole hotel is steeped in history, with much of it functioning as a bank since the 1800s until 1998. The most impressive area is undoubtedly the Banking Hall, which is available for private events such as weddings, parties, and conferences. Its 15ft ceilings are adorned with four Waterford Crystal chandeliers, each containing 8,000 crystals. It is undoubtedly a room that inspires awe as you are welcomed inside - perfect for an event that aims to make a statement.
The Mint, in contrast, is an intimate setting, ideal for a quiet lunch or drink after a long day spent around the city. My mother ordered a beef burger (€13.50) while I opted for lamb (€14.50). Both were absolutely delicious, as our soon empty plates could attest to.
With full bellies and satisfied with our busy day, we headed upstairs to enjoy a long night in the Westin’s luxurious beds. The beds, which are custom made for the Westin brand around the world, are named ’Heavenly Beds’, and it's a title they more than deserve. So popular are the beds, they are available to buy - but you'll pay a pretty penny for it. The beds can be bought for between €1,690 and €3,140.
We awoke well rested and utterly relaxed after a blissful night of sleep, and headed straight for breakfast. There was a wide range on offer, from a full Irish to smoked salmon.
After checking out, but before we bade a final farewell to the Westin that afternoon, we enjoyed a leisurely pot of tea in the Atrium Lounge.
To tie in with the festive season, the Atrium Lounge is now offering their afternoon tea with a Christmas twist. Festive afternoon tea is available for €36 per person - a suitable treat for weary shoppers and visitors alike.
Leaving to catch our train home to Cork, we were reluctant to say farewell to the warm, welcoming reception and step out into the overcast city once more. The Westin truly is a rare gem in the heart of Dublin.
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