The Marker Hotel on Misery Hill sounds like the title of indie horror movie. Straight to Netflix! Do not pass Vue! Now, even though that’s where your Uber will pick you up, The Marker Hotel prefers to go with Grand Canal Square. And it’s more fitting – yes, it’s on the canal, and as squares go in Dublin, it’s a pretty grand one. Not the Georgian kind of grand, with Oscar Wilde statues and the annual fancy dress of Bloomsday. This is super modern Celtic Tiger.2 grand, with Martha Schwartz’s dynamic €8mn sci-fi landscaping offset by Daniel Liebeskind’s inelegantly sponsored and branded Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.
Standing in one of the corner windows of the Marker Hotel, this doesn’t look like the Dublin I remember from all my overcast childhood summers of horsefairs and Kimberly biscuits. This is 21st century Google and Facebook land. On a Friday evening, the swish hotel lobby – looking a little like a Qantas Business class lounge – is buzzing with cocktails, rounds of Guinness, swanky high-heeled boots from Brown Thomas and male pattern baldness.
If you’re not “in silicone”, or playing on U2’s new album (their studios are on the same strip of canal), then there’s not an awful lot of reason to be in this part of town. But a 20-minute stroll gets you to Trinity College and just about everywhere you do want to be. Also, I suspect five years from now the whole area around Misery Hill will be a new nightlife hub. Until then, there’s the brunchtime queue at herbstreet to contend with, and the seasonal rooftop scene at the Marker Hotel. For many Dubliners, The Marker Hotel is the whole reason to be here.
This is a hotel that started to date the second the heavy plastic wrapping was taken off all of its expensive CONTEMPORARY furniture. But it still looks great – instead of flat walls, there’s a nice play on angles at every turn and axis, from restaurant to hallway. While a lot of trad Dublin hotels make you want to drop dead of ennui into a bowl of cobwebs over afternoon tea, The Marker Hotel feels like the 21st century. The in-room tech is a bit of a faff (no, I don’t want to have to download anything to sync up my Mac to play music), but everything else is ship shape and luxe; great beds, tubs, underfloor heating…
The best two things about The Marker Hotel are the service (I genuinely can’t think of another hotel where the staff are more pleasant to deal with, or more on it) and the breakfast. There are seasonal supper specials (I stayed in one night for the beef and Bordeaux dinner and liked it a lot – vast portions, good rich red, bargainous) but the dining room really comes into its own in the morning. I love a buffet breakfast, and while breakfast in Asia is a joy because of the dumplings (dim sum for four, for one, for me, thanks) Dublin is all about the sausages. Award winning butcher Tommy Doherty gets name checked on the bangers here, and each morning I stayed I made three trips to the buffet for more. I had them with white pudding. I had them in toasted bread as a sarnie. And then – my desire to eat more being only a little greater than the capacity of my stomach – I had them 80s nouvelle style – on their own, in the middle of the plate, with just a smear of ketchup. I left The Marker Hotel a happy man. C
The Marker Hotel, Grand Canal Square, Dublin, D2, Ireland
00 353 1 687 5100; themarkerhoteldublin.com