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Number 31, Dublin 

31 Leeson Close
Lower Leeson Street
Ireland 2
Tel: 353 1 676 5011
view web site ›'s insider take:

A brass knocker and polished numerals are the only indication that a guesthouse exists down this inconspicuous laneway. But what a guesthouse—Number 31 marries a handsome Georgian town house with a mews overhauled in 1958 by Dublin's original starchitect, Sam Stephenson. Linked by a delightful urban garden, the properties offer 21 rooms and are as individual as their heritages. At the Fitzwilliam Place end, aubergine and espresso tones complement restored plasterwork and high Georgian ceilings. In the mews, modernist design is typified by a sunken lounge built around a large fireplace. In Stephenson's day, this was one of Dublin's great society secrets (former Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey "nurtured" his illicit affair with gossip columnist Terry Keane in what is today room 14), and current owner Noel Comer is hugely enthusiastic about continuing the legacy. The result is surprisingly informal, especially at breakfast, when Comer presides over guests gathered on communal benches on a mezzanine level. It's a trade-off, of course—Number 31 comes without an elevator, on-site parking, or other hotel standards (when we were there, one enterprising guest had left a handwritten "do not disturb" sign outside his room); and inevitably, the staff are not as personable as the host. If you prefer not to see the strings, it may not be for you. If you like a labor of love, on the other hand, you'll feel right at home.—Pól Ó Conghaile

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