Shelbourne Hotel Dublin, Dublin $$$$
Tel: 353 1 663 4500
Fax: 353 1 661 6006
Concierge.com's insider take:
Dublin tends to cherish its in jokes, eccentrics, and landmarks, so when the Shelbourne closed for extensive renovations in 2005, the whole town sulked. This, after all, was the hotel, first opened in 1824, where the Irish Constitution was drafted in 1922; it's also the place Peter O'Toole took a famous champagne bath. Would the redo undo the legend? Anything but. The spring 2007 reopening represents more of a restrained restoration than a reinvention: The classic Horseshoe Bar is still there, draped in burgundy wall coverings, as is the Lord Mayor's Lounge, where waitresses wearing strings of pearls pour afternoon tea. But now there's also the Saddle Room, where you can down Galway oysters or tackle a roasted rack of Wicklow lamb. The 265 guest rooms forgo any playful updates for a textbook redesign: An airy, Georgian palette (butter yellow and rose) is brought back to earth by boxy Italian cherrywood credenzas. But the marble bathrooms, contemporary landscapes by Irish artists, and handmade shoe box in each closet (put in your stilettos, and they'll come back polished) add some flair.