Over the last few years I have visited Dublin a few times for work but between meetings and tight flight schedules there has never been time to explore the city. When a friend (originally from Dublin) suggested it for her hen weekend I was excited at the prospect of finally having some time to discover the city properly.
Barely an hour from Gatwick, Dublin is the perfect location for a long weekend. Arriving at the Kingfisher Guest House around 11.30pm on a Thursday gave us just enough time to drop off our bags and have a quick drink at a nearby pub before getting some sleep to prepare ourselves for the weekend ahead.
The seven of us were split between two rooms in the hotel which made for a slightly cosy but comfortable stay. The room rates included a full Irish breakfast each morning and were ridiculously cheap for a city as expensive as Dublin. The guest house was ideally located off the busiest roads but just a 10 minute walk from the River Liffey and about 20 minutes from the popular Temple Bar area. On the Friday we got ourselves ready for a day of sightseeing by taking advantage of the full Irish breakfast complete with both White and Black puddings – which taste much nicer than they sound. The weather was sunny and warm, perfect for a stroll along the Liffey with a quick stop for a drink in Ireland’s oldest pub, The Brazen Head, established in 1198.
This is a good time of year to go as the whole city is in bloom with colourful hanging baskets and flowers decorating the majority of shop fronts and buildings. After our pit stop we made like tourists and headed in the direction of the Guinness Storehouse. Even if a pint of Stout is really not your thing it is worth a visit for the 360 degree views across Dublin which can be enjoyed from the bar on the 7th floor along with your complementary pint of Guinness.
That evening we carried on the Irish experience with an Irish night at the Arlington Hotel. The price for the evening includes a 3 course meal and you can choose from some delicious traditional Irish favourites including Ham hock, Irish Stew and Roast Loin of Pork. During the meal we were kept entertained by rousing Irish music and some traditional Irish dancing. Once all the festivities were over we made our way to the bar upstairs where a live band was playing and the dance floor was calling.
The next day, sleepy and with sore feet, we explored the local shops and enjoyed some retail therapy and a relaxing afternoon in a pub before sampling the famous Fish and Chips at the Kingfisher café attached to our hotel. The Bride-to-Be assured us that a Hen weekend in Dublin would not be complete without a visit to the area of the city known as Temple Bar; having retained its historical charm with its pretty cobbled streets this is a popular destination for tourists. At night there is a vast array of clubs and pubs taking you from a traditional local to upmarket bar and everything in between, including the Temple Bar Pub which offers up both live music and classic party tunes. A night out in Dublin is expensive; with drinks averaging between 6-7 Euros money can disappear quickly so make sure you set a budget before you go.
By the end of the trip not one of us had a bad word to say about Dublin; like a smaller London it is a cosmopolitan city but has somehow managed to retain its friendly Irish charm. The locals do not appear disgruntled by the alarming array of tourists and hen/stag dos and in fact are keen to welcome you and will no doubt share a story or two – over a pint of Guinness if you can manage it!
By Samantha Vandersteen