When you think about visiting Europe, there tends to be a few select cities that garner the most attention. You know the ones – Paris, Rome, so on and so forth. They’re incredible cities – beautiful, grand, with profuse amounts of history and architecture.
But as much as I adore them, there’s an unfortunate side effect to their fame – the overwhelming sense that the entire world has converged into a single location. Saying there are tourists everywhere is an understatement. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying you can’t escape the hoards of people and enjoy these cities on a more intimate level, because you absolutely can. But for first time visitors or anyone in the mood to take in the most common tourist sites (think Eiffel Tower, Coliseum, etc.), you’re going to wait. And wait. And wait.
For those of you wishing to visit Europe and yet escape from legions of other tourists, may I suggest Dublin. It’s a city that boasts an exemplary blend of European history and architecture; it’s home to a wealth of modern activities and shopping; and if you venture just outside Dublin, it notes absolutely breathtaking sea and country views as well as a host of outdoor activities.
Why should you visit Dublin?
There are many reasons to visit Dublin, but the first and unquestionably best reason is a very simple one: the people. The Irish are a fantastic lot – jovial, welcoming, and incredibly proud of their country. As such, they go out of their way to make you feel welcome. I lost track of how many strangers we met on the street that upon finding out we were foreigners, immediately proceeded to give us lengthy recommendation lists of must-visit places and things to do. It’s a place that you can visit and although a tourist, feel immediately at home.
As for actual activities to do, the list is enormous. Obviously there’s the pubs. And there are many. Unlike American pubs, however, Irish pubs are key components of everyday life. Traveling with kids? Not a problem. The first pub we stopped in actually had a soft serve machine where the kids could make up their own cones. Want to go shopping? Check out Grafton Street, home to a huge assortment of shops and dining options. In the mood for some history and architecture? There are numerous castles; stunning examples of Georgian architecture; and the Book of Kells (housed at Trinity College), an illuminated manuscript dating back to 800 AD.
Venture just outside of Dublin, and the list grows even more. In visiting Ireland, it was imperative for me to find great seafood, so upon the recommendation of numerous strangers I took a quick trip to Howth, a quaint fishing village located just outside Dublin. While there I enjoyed a meal at The Oar House Fish Restaurant, and it was sensational. The Dublin Bay prawns were the best I’ve eaten, fresh off the boat (which you can see just outside the Oar House’s front door) and quite literally melting in your mouth as you ate them. I also took a trip down to Wicklow, known as the “Garden of Ireland”, and home to some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen. There’s an abundance of stunning views, but also an abundance of outdoor activities to partake in (golf, biking, kayaking, sailing, horseback riding, etc.).
For me, it was these excursions that defined my time in Ireland. If you want a modern getaway with shopping, a trip to the zoo or a visit to the spa, it’s all here. Want to get outside and enjoy a huge range of outdoor activities? Done. Or maybe you’re looking for an intimate vacation with lush green countryside, stunning sea and cliff views and cozy dining spots – you’ve got it. There’s simply such a huge abundance of things to do it’s impossible to fit them all in a single visit.
Thankfully, planning your visit to Ireland is actually quite easy, thanks to the Irish tourism board. Their website VisitDublin.com makes it incredibly easy to see an overview of the numerous things to do and see in the city of Dublin (and surrounding Dublin County). Better yet, walk down the street, ask someone for a recommendation, and prepare to be bombarded with more recommendations than you can fit into a week. I love Dublin, and there’s no question I’ll be returning to see the huge amount of things I missed my first time around.
Four Seasons Hotel Dublin Overview
To paraphrase Roy Rogers, I’ve never met a Four Seasons I didn’t like, and the Four Seasons Hotel Dublin is no exception to the rule. Comfortable elegance is how I would describe the Four Seasons Dublin – a handsome, superbly relaxed environment nestled roughly 5 minutes outside the center of Dublin. It’s actually in an ivy-covered residential neighborhood known as Ballsbridge, which is fitting, as the hotel notes a luxuriously residential feel.
The lobby and lounge areas – recently the recipient of a new makeover – are simply beautiful, with a perfect balance of classic and modern styling harmoniously blending as one. An absolute must, especially with kids, is partaking in an afternoon tea in the lounge. There’s a diverse and delicious tea menu to choose from, along with a host of sweet treats and light dining options for you and your kids to enjoy. The Four Seasons Hotel Dublin is also the only hotel in Dublin boasting a full service spa, an ideal way to get a bit of pampering in during your stay.
When you visit Dublin, the Four Seasons Hotel Dublin is simply the perfect place to reside. It’s luxurious, it’s comfortable, it’s inviting, and it’s perfectly located for trips into the city center or excursions to the coast and country.
Four Seasons Hotel Dublin Rooms & Suites
The Four Seasons Hotel Dublin notes a total of 197 guest rooms and suites, with my personal choice being the Family Suite. At 915 sq. feet, the room was incredibly spacious and bigger than many New York City apartments – a much welcomed feature when you’re traveling with two children. The style was understatedly elegant, and in keeping with the hotel’s style as a whole, felt very warm and comfortable, with a distinctly residential feel.
As is synonymous with the Four Seasons family, the amenities were world-class. Down duvets and pillows, terry bathrobes, a marble bathroom with deep soaking tub and separate glass shower – everything you’d expect from a five star hotel is here. Everything you need for your kids is also on hand, including a crib, kids’ toiletries, bathrobes, and a welcome gift.
When traveling with children, there’s nothing better than being able to check-in to a hotel and having the room pre-tailored to your needs, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in the Four Seasons Dublin. Simply make a note of your kids when reserving your room, and when you arrive, all of the kids amenities will be in place, waiting for you, meaning you can relax from the moment you check in.
Four Seasons Hotel Dublin for the Family
I’ve had the great pleasure of traveling to a variety of unique and interesting destinations with my wife and two children – enough so that those close to me question my sanity for even attempting to embark on some of my ventures. Dublin, however, is a stark departure from many of the less-than-friendly kid places I’ve been, offering a sublime selection of things to do and see for kids of all ages.
It’s a sentiment that begins from the moment you arrive. Upon check-in, kids are welcomed with their own check-in, room key and special surprise. In the room, dedicated kids’ amenities offer up a bit of luxurious pampering, including toiletries and their own bath robes. And from there, the fun is just beginning.
One of the highlights, and an absolute must during your stay, is a visit to the Four Season Hotel Dublin’s lounge for an afternoon tea and snack. The list of teas available is huge, with a variety of exotic and irresistible flavors (not only for the kids but for you as well). I recommend sampling at least a few varieties, as all the ones we indulged in were fantastic. While you’re there, be sure to order a snack as well. For kids and sweet lovers, there’s a delectable pasty tower, offering a vast array of sugary delicacies. Or for something a bit more substantial, there’s a variety of tea sandwiches, including sliced duck with pickled onions and artichoke crisps on a grilled baguette and smoked Irish salmon with horseradish cream and caviar on a potato rosti.
Venture outside the Four Seasons Hotel Dublin, and the amount of family activities is absolutely sensational. In the city, be sure to stop by Phoenix Park and Dublin Zoo, a 70 acre sanctuary that’s home to some 600 animals. Another great option for kids is the Imaginosity Children’s Museum (for ages 9 and under), where your little ones can take part in a variety of workshops and fun activities throughout the day. And for the crafty, there’s numerous options to make and/or paint your own pottery. We managed to fit all three in, and my kids adored them all.
Outside of the city, I recommend venturing into the world of knights and princesses by exploring at least one of the area’s numerous castles. Another option might be a trip to the beach to enjoy family picnic, which by all accounts makes for a perfect afternoon. Talk to the very knowledgable and helpful concierge, and they can arrange a special picnic basket to take on your adventures. Lastly, no visit to Ireland would be complete without a trip to the country. My recommendation, rent a car and take drive through Wicklow. The views can only be described as breathtaking, and there are numerous historic sites your kids will love exploring along the way.
Looking back on our visit to Dublin, my family and I had a fantastic time, with our only regret being that we didn’t have more time to spend in Ireland. It’s incredibly family oriented and is the ideal destination for kids of all ages and interests. It is without question a must-visit destination for anyone planning a European vacation.
Four Seasons Hotel Dublin Dining
Dining at the Four Seasons Hotel Dublin consists of four options – the Seasons restaurant, the Lobby Lounge, The Bar and ICE lounge. For a more traditional meal, the Seasons restaurant offers what’s described as a contemporary Irish cuisine, serving a variety of fresh, local ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I enjoyed several breakfasts as well as a dinner at the Seasons, and the food was perfectly in harmony with the hotel as a whole. It was balanced, not excessively complicated and delicious. I had the dry-aged Irish beef, my wife the lamb, and both were brilliant. The key to great food is freshness, and the Seasons restaurant capitalizes on this ideal perfectly by sourcing locally grown and produced ingredients.
For lighter fare, as already noted, the Lobby Lounge offers a variety of tea sandwiches, pastries, and numerous tea and beverage options. And for a relaxing night out, The Bar and ICE lounge both offer extensive drink options, including a wide assortment of Irish whiskeys.
Four Seasons Hotel Dublin Conclusion
Ultimately, my time at the Four Seasons Hotel Dublin was a splendid one. Dublin is a city whose people are among the warmest I’ve met; the hotel itself and the staff were all sensational, and the amount of things to do and see in Dublin far surpassed the three days I had to spend there. Although it’s not the most common city one thinks of when embarking on a European vacation, I can’t recommend enough taking the time to see Ireland for yourself, whether it’s for the history, the stunning landscapes, or the modern touches. It’s a way to experience Europe in a completely relaxed, welcoming environment, and the Four Seasons Hotel Dublin is the perfect place to begin your Irish adventures.