April 24, 2024

Anantara The Marker Hotel Dublin

This much-needed and anticipated addition to Ireland's line up of five-star hotels offers a stylish and ultra-luxurious urban escape

THE HOTEL

Opened in May, Anantara‘s seventh property in Europe and first hotel in Ireland occupies the building previously occupied by The Marker Hotel. It is located opposite Grand Canal Square in Dublin’s regenerated dockyard district, which in recent years has attracted tech businesses such as Google. Around a 20-minute drive from Dublin Airport, it is convenient for the city’s main business and financial district.

THE BACKGROUND

Owned by Minor Hotels and a Leading Hotels of the World, the Anantara had a multi-million-euro makeover before opening. Substantial internal rewiring, plumbing and other essential changes were undertaken during Covid, whilst the 187 rooms, spread over six floors, were completely refurbished this past winter, along with the lobby area and bar.

The futuristic-looking sloping angles and edges of the external architecture are, at first glance, a little ‘bulky’ – until that is you hear the explanation that the design is deliberate and meant to elicit similarities with the shale and sandstone Cliffs of Moher on the rugged West Clare coast. Also, the lobby and bar ceiling is designed to echo the ‘blockiness’ of the Giant’s Causeway.

Hotel exterior

THE CHECK-IN

My car was left next to the main entrance and quickly valet-parked. At the spacious reception areas I was handed a wooden key – one of many sustainability initiatives at the hotel – and was met by a welcoming committee made up of the hotel’s general manager, Michael Cavern, whose most recent job before joining Anantara was managing the prestigious K Club Hotel and Golf Club in County Kildare; Derek Brennan, head of security; and Juan Manuel Romeo Quesada, head of sales. All three checked on the time of my dinner reservation, explained the refurb initiatives undertaken by the hotel and talked me through the hotel lay-out and various facilities.

THE ROOM

My De Luxe room was unusually shaped, with eye-catching angles. The room was stylish and super-comfortable, with soft purple, grey and brown colours and wood panelling, along with contemporary furnishings created by Irish designers.

Key features included a king-size bed, smart TV with Chromecast, a wall-to-floor mirror, small round table and chairs, working desk area, Nespresso coffee machine, a flat-screen TV, a stocked minibar, complimentary Wi-Fi and plenty of sockets and USB ports. The floor-to-ceiling bedside window looked down on Grand Canal Square. An oversized bathroom featured a rain-effect shower and organic Voya products.

The rooftop bar

THE FACILITIES

Without a name when I visited in early June, the restaurant has since been rebranded as Forbes Street by Gareth Mullins, named after the resident chef of the same name who is a regular on many national Irish TV programmes.

Bright and airy, with lots of green foliage and views of the working kitchen, a changing cast of clearly well trained and informed staff arrived at my table.

The menu features contemporary and Irish dishes that are sourced, wherever possible, within 30 miles of the hotel. Entrees include a range of steaks made from dry-aged Irish beef, Stone Bass (with mussel, clam and fennel bouillabaisse) and roasted aubergine gratin. Breakfast is equally impressive, and includes a continental buffet spread with options ranging from creamy scrambled eggs to smoked salmon to Irish honey to handmade pastries.

There’s a Spa, with treatments inspired by Irish ingredients, a sauna, a eucalyptus-infused steam room and a 23-metre indoor infinity pool.

The rooftop terrace bar and lounge is already Dublin’s new go-to place for cocktails, with unbeatable 360-degree views of the city. Visible landmarks including the city’s two main sports stadia, Croke Park and the Aviva Stadium.

The hotel is introducing a range of ‘guest activities’, which they hope business as well as leisure travellers will have time to take advantage of.

These include shopping excursions on Grafton Street, a guided historical tour through the Docklands (an area that dates back to the 18th century) an evening of Irish tales story-telling (called seanachi, Irish for ‘story-teller’) and an excursion accompanied by the hotel’s executive chef on a fishing boat out of the seaside town of Howth. It includes seal and (hopefully) dolphin spotting and ends with guests trying their hands at making Irish soda bread back at the hotel.

THE BUSINESS

There are nine meetings rooms, of various sizes, accommodating anything from 20 to 250 guests, along a business centre. Facilities include all the usual audio-visual equipment and coffee breaks and food and drink are provided on request.

Spice restaurant

THE VERDICT

This much-needed and anticipated addition to Ireland’s line up of five-star hotels offers a stylish and ultra-luxurious urban escape, but with Irish landmarks and folkloric tales incorporated into its design and landscaping. Another of these is the blur of many colours on the lobby carpet that is a nod to the famous poem Clothes of Heaven by Irish poet W.B. Yeats. These will probably go unnoticed by most guests – but those same guests won’t fail to discern the warm welcome and nothing-is-too-much trouble attitude offered by all the staff, the levels of comfort throughout or the quality of the dining and bar experiences on offer.

I was told the hotel is committed to blurring those traditional lines between business and leisure travellers by offering facilities and excursions that even the busiest of corporate travellers can experience when they visit.

THE DETAILS

De Luxe rooms start at around €325, but check the website for a range of offers. Grand Canal Square, Docklands, D02 CK38, Dublin, Ireland. Tel: +353 (0) 1 687 5100; anantara.com

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