THE HOTEL: Open since December 2000, this 160-key aparthotel sprawls over four classic Georgian townhouses, one of which was once home to a favourite Dublin nightspot, the Zanzibar pub and club. On Dublin’s ‘north side’, it is opposite the River Life, next to Ha’Penny Bridge, a three-minute walk from a tram stop and a five-minute walk from the nightlife of Temple Bar.
COVID STRATEGY: The property is ISAAP certified, which ensures that “all necessary elements of safety, hygiene and quality have been verified”. Check-in was ‘contactless’ and the property has a ‘no touch points’ policy, so doors open when your key card is in the vicinity. There are a lot of hand sanitisers throughout the hotel. The apartments are cleaned every seven days, although new linen and Ecolab cleaning products can be requested from the front desk.
THE CHECK-IN: This was exceptionally impressive. Rebecca and Erica were full of friendly smiles, welcomed me by name, had my card keys waiting and explained the layout of the building, the Covid house rules and (many) nearby attractions.
THE APARTMENT: My twin duplex studio (suite 2.27) was, in a word, huge! Behind the heavy entrance door a small entrance area led to a second door that opened to a large living and dining area, with post-industrial chic exposed brickwork, a wooden floor and big windows that looked out on the river and bright lights of the city beyond. Understated neutral colours gave it a warm and ultra-modern feel.
There was a work desk, chaise lounge, smart TV with Chromecast option and, boxed in behind glass and its own door, a functional and fully-equipped Smeg kitchen with all essential appliances and a selection of Barry’s tea-bags and Daily Grind coffee pockets. Back out that entrance lobby door was a spacious bathroom, with a rainshower and Kinsey Apothecary bathroom products, and stairs that led to another spacious loft bedroom area.
Several nice touches included a bedside ‘Sleep With Me’ box with bed socks and a facemask. Although located on a busy road, excellent soundproofing kept the traffic noise away and ensured a good night’s sleep.
THE BUSINESS: It’s unlikely you would feel cramped or claustraphobic working in your apartment, which is considerably larger than most rooms in a Dublin hotel. However, the spacious and well-appointed, super-clean and airy lobby area is a set up for ‘hot disking’, with several ‘co-working’ workstations and USB ports, and cosy sofas and African-patterned cushions with their own work tables. Each apartment has its own unique Wi-Fi code, which becomes a personal code you can use throughout the property. Room requests can be made via WhatsApp. A late check-out can be arranged (officially for 10 euros). Paid public parking nearby is available to guests.
THE FACILITIES: Wooden stairs lead past a bar to a drinking/dining area spread over two levels – mezzanine and first floor. It includes a funky cocktail bar (that reminded me of a Hawaiian tiki or Southern African bush bar- a Hakuna Matata cocktail anyone?) and the Baraza restaurant. It was a Friday night and the arched sash windows offered glimpses of a city cranking into normal mode on the first weekend ‘back’ after the latest lockdown. There was an early-evening nightclub vibe to the restaurant, with the piped music in the dining area just that little bit too loud. Baraza serves small plates of modern comfort food with surprising twists. Popular items include Yakitori black pudding, pork belly with Asian greens, vegan burgers, scallops with apple purée and bacon and candied beetroot salad. Elsewhere, there is a bijou gym (yoga classes available) and workout area, with machines and weights, and a courtyard terrace (occupied by smokers). Tucked into a corner of the lobby is North Seven, serving coffee, pastries and cookies and breakfast items like bacon and sausage baps, banana bread, muffins and a granola bowl.
THE VERDICT: Zanibar Locke exceeds its own self-billing as a respite where ‘home-meets-hotel’. Impressive, stylish, cosy, spacious, eclectic and classy, this is a bright, breezy and functional option for corporates, particularly those in town for a few days, in a city where apartment hotels are still rare. Dublin is right on your doorstep too.
THE DETAILS: 34-37 Ormond Quay Lower, North City, Dublin, D01 H3V5 +353 (0) 1 4363 701 email@example.com. Rates from £125 a night.