The Alex – This slick, retro, and cozy hotel is a great choice for Merrion Square.
Part of the O’Callaghan Collection, an Irish family-run hotel chain, The Alex and its nearby sister properties, The Mont and The Davenport, have been recently rebranded and spruced up. Of the three, The Alex features a retro-modern style and sumptuous color palette which gives it a more universal appeal. With just under a hundred rooms, it feels buzzy without feeling impersonal, and the artwork and funky bespoke furnishings give the hotel a boutique feel. The on-site café and restaurant are very photogenic and there is even a large common area for co-working, holding meetings, or simply relaxing. Its fantastic location means several major attractions, restaurants, bars, shops, and transport options are just steps away.
The Alex – Location
- Address: 41-47 Fenian St, Dublin.
- Nearest Metro/Subway: The closest thing Dublin has to a subway system is an overground train line that runs north-south, the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) and a 2-line tram system, the Luas. Catch the DART from Pearse Station, a 2-minute walk (0.1 mile); from there, it’s 2 stops to Connolly Station, one of Dublin’s main transport hubs, where you can catch the Luas tram and buses from the nearby Busáras coach station.
- Area: The hotel is a block away from Merrion Square in central Dublin. It’s within walking distance of most of the city’s main sights: on the square itself (or just off it) are Leinster House (parliament), Government Buildings (Prime Minister’s office), the Archeology and Natural History sections of the Museum of Ireland, and the National Gallery. It’s just east of Trinity College, north of St Stephen’s Green, south of the River Liffey, and west of the Docklands, where all of Dublin’s newest developments (including homes for tech giants Google and Facebook) have sprung up over the past decade.
- How to Get There: The hotel is a 20-30 minute drive (9 miles) from the airport, depending on Dublin’s notorious traffic. Outside of rush hour, the 757 Airlink bus runs almost as quickly and will drop you right outside the Davenport Hotel, which is opposite The Alex. From Heuston Station, it’s an 11-25 minute bus ride door-to-door (traffic-dependent). From Connolly Station or the nearby Busáras coach station, it’s a 15-minute walk (0.7 mile) or 2 stops on the DART to Pearse Street.
- Handy to: Merrion Square, national museums, Trinity College.
The Alex – The Basics
- Ages: Although The Alex is adult-orientated, families are made to feel welcome.
- Private Pools/Jacuzzis: No private pools or jacuzzis.
- Laundry: Laundry services available (extra cost).
- Parking: Hotel guests can access a private locked garage nearby (€15/day).
- Extras: All rooms feature super king beds, newspaper/magazine downloads, Chromecast on Smart TVs, bar vouchers (for a drink and snack each), and turn-down service for guests in suites. All guests can also use the ground-floor co-working area as well as the facilities at the nearby The Mont and The Davenport hotels, including a state-of-the-art gym. All guests staying in higher room categories have access to the VIP lounge.
- When to Book: The hotel has 98 regular rooms but only 5 suites, so book a few weeks in advance if you want to be fancy.
- How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
- Phone: +353 1 607 3700
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: thealexhotel.ie
The Alex – Amenities
- Pool: No pool.
- Spa: No spa.
- Fitness Center: The Alex shares a vast 1,500-square-foot state-of-the-art gym with its sister properties The Mont and The Davenport. It’s open 24/7 in the basement of The Mont (100m).
- For Disabled Guests: The hotel has elevators and big rooms, but no wheelchair-friendly room. O’Callaghan Collection’s sister properties The Davenport and The Mont (all 3 hotels are within a 2-minute walk of each other) both offer fully accessible rooms.
- For Families: Little ones stay free (cribs provided) and there’s a family offer that includes a children’s welcome pack, milk and cookies at bedtime, and mocktails while the grown-ups are having cocktails.
- Activities: Packages with tours available if you book directly.
The Alex – Food and Drink
- Bar/Restaurant/Café: Just off the lobby, The Carriage serves inventive salads, ‘sambos’ (Irish slang for a sandwich), and classics like fish & chips, burgers, and curries. There’s a full bar and a good wine list and cocktail menu. $-$$. Open from noon-11pm. ● Steam café, also off the lobby, does decent coffee and pastries (7am-4pm). $.
- Breakfast: Breakfast is only included in some packages. You can opt for the hotel’s full buffet breakfast and a la carte options at The Carriage. Alternatively, Steam offers items like porridge, granola, and pastries.
- Room Service: Limited menu available 24 hours a day, larger selection available during restaurant opening hours.
The Alex – Rooms
- Room Types: Classic King/Twin ● Executive King ● Junior suite ● The Alex Suite • List of all Rooms
- Smoking Rooms: The Alex is 100% smoke-free.
- Best Room: In addition to the amenities offered by the Classic rooms (super king bed, 50-inch Smart TV with Chromecast connectivity, Roberts Radio, walk-in rain shower, climate control, safe, international plug sockets, desk, ironing facility, magnifying mirror, hairdryer, and refrigerator), The Alex Suite has an enormous circular living room with chaise-sofa, a Nespresso machine, bathtub, bathrobes, slippers, and access to the Executive Lounge for complimentary drinks and snacks.
- Family Rooms: No family rooms per se but there are some interconnecting rooms.
The Alex – Local Transport
- Walking: The whole of central Dublin is eminently walkable; you can reach most of the major tourist attractions within 20 minutes from the hotel.
- Tram/Bus/Train: Pearse Station is a 2-minute walk (0.1 mile) away. From there you can catch the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) train, which runs north-south along the entirety of Dublin’s coast via Connolly Station. The Luas trams (Green line) stop at Dawson Street, a 9-minute walk (0.4 mile) away. The hotel is extremely well-connected for buses, with dozens of routes stopping right outside on Clare Street.
- Taxis, Uber, Lyft: Irish law doesn’t allow Uber/Lyft to operate. Most locals use the Free Now or Lynk apps to connect them with local licensed drivers. You can hail a cab in the street if it has got its light on or find one at one of the many taxi stands around the city.
The Alex – What’s Nearby?
You can walk almost anywhere in the city center within 30 minutes. Public transport does not usually cut travel time significantly.
Recommended Nearby Tours
- Viking Splash Tours – This blast of a tour on a bus-boat means you’ll see the major attractions from land as well as water. Sets off from the north side of St Stephen’s Green. (0.6 mile).
- 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour – To get to grips with modern Ireland’s complexities, you must learn about the 1916 Easter Rising against the British government and this is one of the most vivid ways to do it. Meeting point: International Bar. (0.6 mile).
- Dublin Bay Cruises – See Dublin from the sea. Boat trips with onboard commentary to the traditional fishing village of Howth in the north – famous for its seals and dolphins – and the vibrant suburb of Dun Laoghaire in the south. March-October only. Departure point at the Convention Centre on the Liffey. (0.7 mile).
Best Nearby Restaurants
- L’Enoteca di Napoli – Genuine, authentic, and local, this beloved Neapolitan place is great any time of day, including for just popping in for one of their raved-about coffees. $$. (0.1 mile).
- The Pig’s Ear – Sophisticated restaurant with inventive and impeccably presented food and views of Trinity College. $$$. (0.3 mile).
- Dunne & Crescenzi – Established Italian bistro with adjoining deli that started using seasonal fresh ingredients before it was ‘cool’. (0.3 mile).
- Patrick Guilbaud – Consistently rated as one of Dublin’s best restaurants since it opened almost 40 years ago. It has 2 Michelin stars and its wine cellar is the stuff of legends. Reservations strongly recommended. $$$-$$$$. (0.3 mile).
- BANG – Award-winning bar-restaurant focusing on Irish ingredients with fusion flavors, excellent steak options, and extensive wine list. $$$. (0.4 mile).
- Brookwood – Great meat-focused restaurant with succulent steaks, excellent seafood, and outrageous roasts. Clubhouse vibe with lots of leather, booth seating, dark wood, and marble counters. $$$. (0.4 mile).
- Cirillo’s – Excellent Neapolitan wood-fired pizzas as well as pastas and risottos at decent prices for this neck of the woods. $-$$. (0.4 mile).
- Matt the Thresher – It’s easy to forget Dublin’s a seaside town – something that this place hopes to remedy by providing excellent seafood, from buckets of mussels to oysters shucked to order as well as burgers, great sandwiches, and salads. $-$$$. (0.5 mile).
- Maneki – Cozy modern Japanese restaurant that does all the classics with a great selection for vegans. There’s a private karaoke room, too, for the authentic Tokyo experience. $-$$. (0.5 mile).
- Cafe en Seine – You would never know from the street what opulence lies within this recently renovated iconic restaurant. There are glittering bars filled with chandeliers and a whole Parisian-style street. Fabulous food and cocktails by Chef Stephen Gibson (of Pichet). $$$. (0.5 mile).
- 37 Dawson St – Heady and surreal restauraunt-bar-club that does weekend brunches, tapas, and lots of hearty drinking food (fish & chips, burgers, steaks). Awesome cocktails and fun ‘80s music ensure a fun night. (0.5 mile).
- The Greenhouse – Avant garde fine dining worthy of its 2 Michelin stars just off St Stephen’s Square. Reservations recommended. $$$-$$$$. (0.6 mile).
Best Nearby Bars and Breweries
- Ruin Bar – Lively contemporary pub that has retained some of the building’s original features, like its ornate ceiling molding, and brought them up to date. Awesome projector for sports and event screenings. (0.5 mile).
- Bestseller – Feel like you’re starting a turn-of-the-century literary society in this highbrow yet cozy ‘wine cafe’ where you’re surrounded by shelves of books. Great any time of day, as they serve good coffee, pastries, soups, stews, and sandwiches. (0.5 mile).
- Kehoes Pub – Impossible to describe better than the pub itself does: an ‘authentic, unpretentious Victorian shrine, one of the last great heritage pubs’ (and a mean pint of Guinness). (0.6 mile).
- Peruke & Periwig – Sip fantastic cocktails and dine on fine food in this sumptuous Victorian parlor whose lounges span 3 floors of a Georgian townhouse. Risk standing in the ground-floor bar or reserve a table. (0.6 mile).
- Stag’s Head – Stunning old-world pub with enough original features and history to write a book about. Good pub food, regular live music, and other events. (0.7 mile).
- Mulligan and Haines – A contemporary pub with Victorian stylings, this place calls itself a ‘Joycean heritage pub’ as it is named after 2 of the characters in Ulysses. The upstairs room is a good place to seek out a seat when it’s heaving outside. (0.7 mile).
- Grogan’s – Bucking the Victoriana of many other classic Dublin pubs, Grogan’s is firmly stuck in the 1970s. Its wooden walls are plastered with eclectic art – all for sale – and there’s a fridge full of ham and cheese sandwiches, waiting to become toasties. (0.7 mile).
- Palace Bar – Traditional pub from 1823 – run by the same family since 1946 – that maintains its Victorian decor. A firm favorite for Irish Times journalists whose offices are almost next door. (0.7 mile).
- The Oliver St John Gogarty – The pub to go to for traditional Irish music. Gogarty’s has live acts all afternoon and evening, every day. (0.7 mile).
Best Nearby Cafés
- Hansel & Gretel – Exceptional artisanal café-bakery, a stone’s throw from the hotel. Everything’s good and the Paris-Brest is exceptional. (0.1 mile).
- Tiller + Grain – Excellent coffee and nutritious breakfast and lunches – to-die-for salads – at this eco-friendly joint run by an ex-Ottolenghi chef. (0.3 mile).
- Eathos – Had one too many Irish breakfasts on your trip? This place is the absolute antithesis, offering healthy bowls full of superfood goodness. (0.4 mile).
Nearby Shopping & Cool Shops
- Dublin’s best shopping can be found in the warren of streets between the luxury stores on and around Grafton Street (0.5 mile) and Temple Bar (1 mile). In this area, don’t miss the cool Powerscourt Centre (0.6 mile), a unique mini-mall built in a courtyard surrounded by Georgian townhouses, whose upstairs floors are filled with antique jewelry stores. George’s Street Arcade is also fun; it was Ireland’s first purpose-built shopping center and houses all kinds of quirky and independent stores (0.7 mile). On the Northside, head to Henry Street (1 mile), which has outposts of all the major international chains as well as famed Irish department store Arnotts. The streets around it are worth checking out as they are fast filling up with cute stores, cafes, and bars.
- Kilkenny – Touristy but still one of the best places for Irish handicrafts from all over the country, including knitwear, pottery, prints, and cosmetics. Designers range from tiny artisans to international brands like Orla Kiely. (0.3 mile).
- DESIGNYARD – Set over a few floors of a Georgian townhouse, this place sells classy contemporary sculptures, art, and jewelry. (0.3 mile).
- Avoca – Outstanding chain of chic and modern mini department stores selling contemporary homeware, fine food, and stylish clothes. At the central Dublin store there’s also a good takeaway deli counter and a pleasant café. (0.5 mile).
- Monaghan’s Cashmere – Established in 1960 and still run by the Monaghan family who specialize in only the finest cashmere products. (0.5 mile).
- Sheridan’s Cheesemongers – The Sheridan brothers created a cheese empire from a Gallway market stall in the 1990s. Their South Anne Street shop is the best place to sample and learn about Irish cheese. (0.5 mile).
- Anthony Peto – Classical and fantastical handmade hats by this British milliner who only has 2 stores, in Dublin and Paris. (0.5 mile).
- Louis Copeland & Sons – Family-run chain of mens’ tailors; exquisite made-to-measure suits alongside modern brands like Belstaff, Gant, and Ted Baker. 10-minute walk (0.5 mile) to the Pembroke Street Lower store.
- Magee 1866 – Heritage producer of handwoven Donegal tweed. Buy as ready-to-wear clothing or by the meter at their flagship store. (0.5 mile).
- Celtic Whiskey Shop – Award-winning whiskey shop that claims to stock the “most comprehensive whiskey range in Ireland”, including exclusive, rare, and collectible bottles. (0.6 mile).
- National Gallery of Ireland – An art lovers’ dream, Ireland’s most important art gallery has over 13,000 paintings and sculptures, including works by Caravaggio, Goya, Turner, Monet, Vermeer, Rembrant, and Picasso. As you’d imagine, it has the most comprehensive collection of Irish art in the world, including the archives of Jack B. Yeats (brother of WB Yeats), whose painting “The Liffey Swim” is a must-see. (0.2 mile).
- Merrion Square & Around – This graceful square, laid out in the 1760s, is one of the best places to see the Georgian townhouses that Dublin is so famous for, many of which have been home to some of the city’s most famous denizens, including Oscar Wilde (check out his highly unusual statue in the northwestern corner of the square) and WB Yeats. You’ll find a huge concentration of the city’s biggest sights in and around the square. These include the National Gallery (see below) and the archaeological and natural history sections of the National Museum of Ireland, as well as the seat of government, Leinster House, and the Taoiseach’s office, housed in the palatial Government Buildings. (0.2 mile).
- National Museum of Ireland – Four separate state-run museums, three of which are in Dublin, come together under the banner of the National Museum of Ireland and showcase many of the nation’s most precious treasures. Two of them are just off Merrion Square in central Dublin (0.3 mile). The Archaeology Museum has some of the best surviving Celtic and medieval artifacts in the world, including the Ardagh Chalice and the Tara Brooch. It stands almost back-to-back with the Natural History Museum, which is always a hit with kids as it is packed to the rafters with stuffed animals in cabinets that have not changed since its inauguration in 1857. Arguably the most impressive of the national museums is the Decorative Arts and History section at Collins Barracks (3 miles, 25 minutes via public transport). Wonderfully varied, it features displays about everything from war and immigration to fashion and interiors.
- St Stephen’s Green – Central Dublin’s largest square (22 acres) contains much more of interest than meets the eye. It’s well worth going into the park, not only for the pretty planting and ornamental Victorian features, but also to absorb city history via the many statues and monuments. Look out for bullet holes on the Fusiliers’ Arch at the northwest entrance to the park that date back to the 1916 uprising, when rebels took the square in an attempt to wrestle control from the British government. (0.4 mile).
- Trinity College – A must on anyone’s Dublin itinerary is Dublin’s premier university. Its major attraction is the show-stopping Long Room library and its greatest treasure, the Book of Kells, a beautifully-decorated version of the New Testament from around 800AD. (0.5 mile).
- EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum & Around – There are a ton of sights on the north bank of the Liffey, but perhaps the coolest is EPIC, a lively and interactive museum about the Irish diaspora and how the Emerald Isle has influenced the world. There’s even an Irish Family History Centre, as part of the museum, to discover whether there’s Irish ancestry you can claim. It’s housed in the magnificent CHQ Building – a vast riverside warehouse dating back to 1820. Almost on the doorstep are a few other interesting sights, including the authentic replica of the Jeanie Johnston, a ship that made 16 transatlantic voyages with people fleeing the Great Famine of the 1840s, as well as the haunting Famine Memorial, the harp-shaped Samuel Beckett Bridge, and the grand Customs House building. (0.5 mile).
- Little Museum of Dublin – On the northern side of St Stephen’s Green is the quirky Little Museum of Dublin. Not only is it a great opportunity to get inside a Georgian townhouse, it’s also a fabulous way to get to know more about Dublin via the many artifacts related to famous people and events and accompanying stories told by the guides. (0.6 mile).
- Irish Rock N’ Roll Museum Experience – The focus in this fun museum is on the many Irish musicians who have shaped popular music. There are anecdotes and memorabilia from Thin Lizzy, Van Morrison, U2, Sinead O’Connor, Enya, and Hozier (to name a few), as well as artifacts and memorabilia from international acts like The Beatles and David Bowie. The ‘experience’ element gives you the chance to dress up, rock out, and record your own track. You’ll also get to see working recording studios that have been used by Rihanna, Kanye, and Will.I.AM and go backstage/onstage at the Button Factory, one of Dublin’s coolest gig venues. (0.7 mile).
- Ha’penny Bridge – Dublin’s most picturesque bridge was also its first pedestrian-only Liffey crossing, built in 1816. The Liffey Bridge, as it’s officially called, is much more commonly known by its nickname, which refers to the half-penny fee people used to pay to cross in order to compensate the ferryman whom the bridge made redundant. (0.8 mile).
- Dublin Castle – The patchwork Dublin Castle was not only the center of British rule in Ireland from 1204-1922, but it also has Viking foundations. On the tour of the building, you’ll see the Royal Chapel and grand State Apartments that everyone from Benjamin Franklin to Pope Francis has visited over the years. (1 mile).
- Chester Beatty Library – On the same site as the Castle stands the jaw-droppingly amazing Chester Beatty Library. Its eponymous founder, an American mining engineer who made Ireland his home, collected rare manuscripts his whole life and left them to his adopted city. Almost everything on display is stunning, from Ancient Egyptian scrolls dating from 1550–1070 BC to papyrus codices – some of the earliest surviving Christian artifacts. There are texts, wood cuttings, and scrolls from most of the world’s major religions and civilizations, as well as a pleasant cafe and a little rooftop garden. It’s a must-visit. (1 mile).
- St Patrick’s Cathedral – The national cathedral of the Church of Ireland, St Patrick’s is worth a visit for it’s decorative tiled floor and interesting links to history. Notably, the author of “Gulliver’s Travels”, Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), was the dean and visitors can see his grave and self-penned epitaph. It was also the site of the first-ever performance of Handel’s Messiah. If you have time, step into the perfectly preserved Marsh’s Library, which dates back to 1707, next door to the cathedral. (1 mile).
- The Hugh Lane – A wonderful public art gallery named after visionary Hugh Lane, who spotted the need for and collected works to create a space for modern art in Dublin at the turn of the 20th century. In 1933, Lane’s collection was given a permanent home in a stunning 1762 townhouse on Parnell Square. Permanent works include stained glass by Harry Clarke, some of Sean Scully’s formidable abstract paintings, and Francis Bacon’s London studio, which was donated to The Hugh Lane and rebuilt in its entirety in one of its galleries in 2001. 15 minutes (1.5 miles) by public transport.
- Phoenix Park & National War Memorial Gardens – One of the largest inner-city parks in the world, Phoenix Park is the place to head to if you have a spare day and need to stretch your legs in – what feels like – glorious countryside (there are even wild deer). There’s loads of stuff to see and do, including an 18th-century Magazine Fort, various monuments, a prehistoric burial chamber, a castle, and Victorian ornamental and walled gardens. There’s also the grand residence of the president of Ireland and Dublin Zoo. The park is so big you might want to rent a bike or even see it via a bike or Segway tour by Phoenix Park Bikes. Almost tacked on to the southeastern corner of the park is the War Memorial Gardens, one of the city’s most delightful parks. It was designed by a superstar architect of his day, Sir Edwin Lutyens, and dedicated to the almost 50,000 Irish soldiers of the 300,000 who died fighting for Britain during World War I. 20 minutes (2 miles) by public transport.
- Guinness Storehouse – Billing itself as Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction, the Guinness Storehouse is something of a behemoth, with 7 (count ‘em) floors dedicated to the black stout that is known the world over. You’ll learn about the brewing process and the brand’s famous advertising campaigns, and get to taste it too. The highlight is the top-floor Gravity Bar, which offers 360-degree views of Dublin and beyond (so keep your fingers crossed for a clear day). Advance booking recommended. 30 minutes (2 miles) by public transport.
- Irish Museum of Modern Art – Across the road from Kilmainham Gaol is the grand gate to IMMA, Dublin’s premier contemporary art museum which is housed in grand old hospital buildings set in lovely grounds. The permanent collections feature works by contemporary artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Lucian Freud, Tony Cragg, Annie Liebowitz, Gillian Wearing, and Paula Rego, as well as older pieces by the likes of Giorgio de Chirico and Jack B. Yeats. 30 minutes (2.5 miles) by public transport.
- Kilmainham Gaol – The gaol (prison), which was in use up until the mid-1920s, is an evocative piece of Irish history that really brings the people behind the independence movement to life. Charles Stewart Parnell and other rebel leaders of both the 1916 uprising and Irish Civil War were kept or executed in this hellish place that hadn’t changed much since it opened in 1796. 30 minutes (2.5 miles) by public transport.