Detailed review by Helencbradshaw
East Bridgford, United Kingdom
The Gresham Hotel in Dublin has been a landmark in the city since 1817 when Thomas Gresham bought the street. The hotel, situated at 23 Upper OConnell Street, Dublin, is the Flagship of the Gresham Chain, which includes properties in Dun Loughaire, Cork and Amsterdam.
You can reach the hotel from the airport by catching the ‘imaginatively named 747 Airport Bus straight into the city, and the first bus stop is right outside the Gresham, this bus costs 5-6 Euro. Alternatively a taxi into the centre of town will cost around 25 Euro.
I was in the fortunate position of being able to stay in the Gresham for two nights as part of my last EVER residential school for my MBA. (Yay!). I decided to lengthen my stay in Dublin by booking an additional two nights B and B accommodation for myself and hubby to be tagged on in front of my University stay.
Rack rate for the Gresham is a whopping 310Euro per room per night. Ouch. I had been searching for availability on discounted websites for a couple of months, and with a week to go, I managed to secure a great deal from the hotels own website, which was 99 Euros per night per room including breakfast for two people. An extremely healthy rate to stay in a property as grand as the Gresham.
I managed to make my mother was extremely jealous, as she had been wanting to stay in the Gresham for her honeymoon some 30+(-cough) years ago, when they still lived in Dublin and were unable to afford it; and never quite making it there in the intervening 30 years!
When you step through the modern glass doors, you cannot fail to be impressed by the spacious lobby area, with its high ceilings and chandeliers; the style is very Georgian with the ornate covings, complemented by crisp clean lines of the walls. There are a number of bars and seating areas, together with an impressive reception desk and concierge service. You feel like you are stepping back in time, to the service of yesteryear, and the hotel very much reminded me of one of my favourite hotels in Australia The Windsor; with its emphasis on quality and service.
Check in was swift, despite the hotel being quite busy, and my only disappointment was that they could not confirm that I could keep the same room for the four nights of my stay, two nights being on a separate booking with the University. However they advised me that there should not be a problem and to check again on the day I was due to arrive for the university course.
Four lifts take guests to the bedrooms, and there are a total of five floors. When you walk along the corridors to the bedrooms you begin to get a feel for the sheer size of this property, I felt we must have walked nearly to Grafton Street, and we were not even at the extremities of the building.
Our room was of a good standard, and included a double and a generous comfortable single bed. We had adequate wardrobe space for two people, and the room included all the normal features you would expect in a four star property, including the very British trouser press, hospitality tray, and steam iron and ironing board, together with a generous amount of Gresham branded toiletries in the bathroom. The room itself was, I am to learn later, not one of the more modern bedrooms within the hotel; however the bathroom and bedroom were not showing any signs of age. The bathroom did not have a separate shower, but had an over bath shower and curtain, albeit a powerful shower.
My only disappointment in the bathroom was that the bath seemed quite deep, and I didnt find it the easiest to get in and out of despite handrails on the walls, so I dont think it would be suitable for all individuals. The other disappointment was that the towels were rather skimpy and did not cover much up, as someone who normally uses a couple of bath sheets each morning, I found I would tend to use up all the towels in the bathroom when taking a shower.
We did find the temperature in the room quite hot, and despite the presence of an air conditioning unit, found it difficult to control the temperature. This apparent heat problem was still an issue later, in the 2nd room which I stayed in for my final two nights, and the conference and function rooms in which I spent a gruelling 13 hours per day.
On my second morning, I was looking forward to the luxury of a lie-in until 9am, before preparing myself for the course which was beginning that afternoon. Unfortunately, we were awakened at 830am to unbelievable banging which sounded like workmen were ripping out the bathroom next to us, this continued for the next few hours, until we checked out of that particular room. So my lie-in was cut short, and we were a little disappointed that the receptionist seemed a little blasé towards the noise, simply stating that the work was scheduled for the next few months, and I would not be retaining that room after all!
The hotel was good enough to ensure they had a room available for me right away, as I could not have continued to study in the first room. My second room was on the 5th (top) floor, and was obviously a more modern room, and was geared more towards the executive guest. The fittings were of a much higher standard throughout, and I had no real complaints about the first room anyway. In addition, my bathroom was much more luxurious, including a separate corner shower as well as a bath. However on the downside the shower itself was more of a drip when compared to the first one. And the ultimate in finishing touches was a little rubber ducky for my bath, who had a little swim in the bath with me on my fourth night, when I decided to stay in and not join my fellow students for a drink. (If there is one thing I have learned when doing this degree it is that I cannot stay out until 4am the next day, and arrive for classes suitably refreshed by 8am!).
The rooms had a mini-bar, which were not stocked, however this could be rectified with a call to Room service if you felt you could afford mini-bar prices that was!
I have probably said this before as I have done lots of hotel reviews in my time, but I tend to find buffet style breakfasts not very appetising. There was no problem with the quality of service and availability of a different selection of items, including full Irish, complete with white pudding, or a selection from the continental table. I dont think the majority of people would have a great issue with breakfast, its just me being a picky eater! The coffee tasted a little bit strange to me, and I dont know if this is down to the quality of the water, or whether it was down to the strength of the brew, but it didnt seem to improve over the four days either. Breakfast is taken in the Aberdeen restaurant which is accessible from the lobby. The other overwhelming memory of breakfast for me was the smell of kippers, which is fine if you like them, but not so fine if you are feeling delicate from the night before and dont like the smell at the best of times! The dining room is huge and would easily accommodate about 250 diners at once. Breakfast is available right up until Noon, which is great to know if you have been too long on the Guinness the night before; not that I would ever do that you understand.
We elected to take advantage of the early bird dinner on the Saturday night, before taking a trip to the Savoy cinema next door. The hotel does a 20 Euro (per person) dinner menu, for early bird diners between 530pm and 700pm. There is an additional service charge of 12.5%. The menu consisted of a choice of four to five starters and main courses, and you could also opt for a main course and a pudding for the same price.
We were impressed with the wine selection and we picked a very reasonable Chilean Sauvignon for 19 Euro a bottle. However we were a little disappointed with the service of the dinner meal in general. The wine was served chilled, however it was not served in a bucket, and in addition it was not poured correctly, with our waitress having a tendency to fill our glasses almost to the top. I would have expected a hotel of this standard to be able to pour the wine to the appropriate level in a wine glass. I was disappointed with my starter which was a ham and mushroom vol au vent, the most appetising of the four options open to me. My hubby had a spinach soup, and he was generally satisfied with his option, however hes a lot less fussy than me! I was also disappointed with my main course, which was a vegetable crepe, complete with very underdone carrots. The service was extremely rushed too, and little touches like lighting the candle on the table and bringing chocolates with our coffee instead of ten minutes later being overlooked. I did fill in a comment card that evening, outlining my disappointment.
One aspect of the hotel which I was impressed with was the drinks service in the lobby reception. There are plenty of comfortable sofas and chairs, and the waiters and waitresses are attentive in providing good table service. Its the kind of place where it just feels great to sit and people watch in the afternoon over a glass of wine, or enjoy a nightcap in the evening. But its not cheap and a typical round of a pint of Guinness and a glass of wine coming to 10 Euro.
So do I recommend the Gresham as a place to stay, and what rating do I give it? Well I think I would give it a seven out of ten, overall, given them the benefit of the doubt for the rushed meal and the noise I experienced. Its still a great place to stay and I definitely recommend a stay for the price I got a room for, however in the unlikely event you can only get a rack rate, then you are probably not going to get value for money!