Get pampered in style
Two centuries old and still with ample gleam to its buttons, The Shelbourne is the grande dame of Dublin’s hotels, standing haughtily over St Stephen’s Green. Tucked away inside the five-star property, meanwhile, you’ll find a suitably indulgent spa – treatments range from facials and wraps to reflexology and a signature hour-long massage. Also on offer are a range of “Gentlemen’s Tonic” treatments, including a massage using moor mud and hot stones.
Tee off on an island
Half an hour by taxi from the city centre and you’ll reach the Royal Dublin Golf Club, an 18-hole links course on an island reserve. Frequent visitors include three-time major winner Padraig Harrington (who once teed off here with Bill Clinton and The Edge), and the club itself dates back more than 125 years, making it the oldest in Ireland. If you have the time, Portmarnock Golf Club is another world-class links, although it sits slightly further away from the city.
Take in a film
The Lighthouse Cinema on Market Square isn’t your usual multiplex – you can go elsewhere for your cola-sticky floors and bog-standard blockbusters – but if you’re after quality films in comfortable surrounds, this is the place. Wine, coffee, craft beer and locally made cakes are all on sale (and can all be taken into screenings), and usually has a good choice of show times in the afternoons and early evenings. The movies themselves are mainly arthouse, and ballet, opera and theatre are broadcast too.
Enjoy the view at The Marker
A modern five-star hotel set in the city’s regenerated Docklands, The Marker gives various reasons to come calling – chief among them being a panoramic bar and roof terrace on the top floor. You’ll be granted views across the city and out towards the sea and mountains, and the drinks list itself features dozens of creative cocktails (rhubarb mojito, anyone?) as well as no less than seventeen different gins. It’s a short walk from the city centre.
Seek out the best espresso in the city
If you’re a fan of quality coffee, you’ll find yourself in good company in Dublin. There are dozens of excellent independent cafes, but as notable as anywhere is 3fe on Grand Canal Street – it uses Dublin-roasted beans and is run by a three-time winner of the Irish barista championships. It uses seven different coffees, of which three are available on any given day. If you find yourself here at the weekend, it even runs classes on tasting and brewing – you’ll need to book ahead.
Get crafty at The Porterhouse
If you want an enjoyable blast of the tourist-friendly riverside area that is Temple Bar, you could do far worse than head to The Porterhouse. It was the first pub-brewery in the city when it opened in 1996, and is now somewhere known for its nightly live music and its vast craft beer selection. If you’re peckish, there’s food on offer too.
Wander an exhibition
Dublin has some excellent contemporary galleries and art spaces, the majority of them manageable enough in size to be easily visited if find yourself with a spare hour or two. Some of the best include Kevin Kavanagh on Chancery Lane, the Green On Red Gallery at Spencer Dock and the Rubicon Gallery on St Stephen’s Green. Most have regularly changing programmes of different exhibitions, with an emphasis on the best of today’s Irish artists.
Shop at the Irish Selfridge’s
The Brown Thomas department store first opened on Grafton Street in the 1840s, and 170 years on it still stands as one of Dublin’s premier shopping outlets – it’s part of the now multi-national Selfridges Group. Big-name designer brands? Unsurprisingly, you’ll find them here in spades, from Karen Millen and Stella McCartney to Michael Kors and Diane von Kurstenberg. There’s plenty of menswear to browse too.