Take a step back in time…or should I say forward? The heart of Ireland has a new beat. The rhythm of first class service in a contemporary setting that upholds the traditions of travel to a new level of uber-experience. The Fitzwilliam Hotel single-handedly redefines it all. Perfectly situated on picturesque St. Stephen’s Green within walking distance of most attractions, The Fitzwilliam Hotel is undeniably a destination in itself.
The Fitzwilliam Hotel makes guests feel like family. From the moment you walk through those signature glass doors of this boutique hotel, you are greeted 5-star style into your new “home.” The staff exudes a perfect balance of friendly demeanor and professional disposition, all with an Irish flair.
Upon entering the lobby, the décor is welcoming and inviting with an homage to the Irish parlor – the setting of a James Joyce novel-to-be. Two large canvases frame a working fireplace that beckons guests to recline in the warm and cozy atmosphere of affluence and art. Gorgeous arrangements of floral designs are situated throughout. And apples piled for the picking. There is even a library nook in which to retreat and read the latest while relaxing in this Irish capital oasis.
The Fitzwilliam is a home to staff and guests alike.
Upholding an impeccable reputation for quality, the staff reflects their commitment to working this establishment. The small team “loves it” here, clearly considering this hidden gem their “home” as well. One distinguished member of the concierge – Tony – has been at The Fitzwilliam since its opening in 1998, following the conversion of a cinema on the same grounds, where he was an usher prior to his current position.
This Irish-owned independent hotel is one-of-a-kind. Catering to both leisure and corporate travelers, the 138 bedrooms on 5 levels are ideal respites in this quiet sanctuary within a bustling city. The five categories of rooms offer an array of amenities and views. Some boast balconies overlooking a courtyard garden featuring F (for Fitzwilliam) shaped foliage, while others face the famous St. Stephen’s square.
But what is truly unique at The Fitzwilliam Hotel is its quintessential Penthouse. We are talking dreamy. Impeccable. Modern. Comfortable. Luxurious. The suite includes a fully stocked living room/dining room with a fireplace, a stunning master bedroom, and a lovely second bedroom/study with a convenient murphy bed. And privacy is key. It is part of the service provided. As is John the butler. And yes – I did say butler. On call 24-hours-a-day as part of the Penthouse Suite, John is the soft-spoken restaurant manager who doubles as a resourceful Penthouse Butler. 100% reliable and responsible, with just the right balance of humor. Truly dignified. A rare find. And The Fitzwilliam has him!
Just in case you are ready to splurge on the once-in-a-lifetime experience of staying at the Penthouse Suite in The Fitzwilliam Hotel, let’s clarify that pan-ultimate first-class travel question: What does a butler do?
Because I was so intrigued (or shall we say obsessed) with the idea of a butler and its new popularity in the USA, the hotel management arranged for me to meet John. I felt like I was in a scene from the movie “Remains of the Day.” Anthony Hopkins aka John greeted me. Ageless. Humble. And ready to recommend.
I was traveling with my 9-year-old niece and we had one full day in Dublin to explore. After a brief yet fun-filled discussion about potential city highlights, the proposed schedule was agreed on for the next day. Then the magic happened. Shortly after our conversation, a handwritten letter appeared at the door in a royal purple envelope. In fancy writing, John had outlined the exact itinerary planned. A personal touch. The definition of “above-and-beyond.”
Recommendations for a full day out in Dublin included: Kilmainham Goal – Dublin Castle - Mr. Simm’s Olde Sweet Shoppe - National Leprechaun Museum – with a stop at Trinity College on the way back to The Fitzwilliam. John proposed when to take a taxi and when to walk and even listed the order of activities. The pace proved perfect. Job done.
My motto is “When the hotel is right, stay in the night.” And so we did. That first night before our big next day, we did not leave our hotel room. Room service, indulgent baths, movies and slippers.
The morning of our outing we were treated to an overflowing breakfast buffet. Not to be missed. And that evening we returned to experience a tasting menu at the hotel’s Citron Restaurant. Course after course of the finest food in Ireland graced our table with impeccable presentation and mouthwatering indulgence.
We were also introduced to chef Kevin Thorton, owner of Thorton’s Restaurant that is located on the premises of The Fitzwilliam Hotel and offers guests a Michelin star dining option. We are talking art. Acclaimed as a philosopher of Irish food, Kevin Thorton is what I would call a food anthropologist who travels the world discovering the origins of food and translates his findings onto the table. At Thorton’s.
Kevin Thorton espouses in his TEDxDublin talk that, “We need to reconnect with the natural rhythm of food production because we are in danger of forgetting our seasons.” Note that he also breeds his own cattle and only serves local. In season. Impressive is Kevin’s noteworthy commitment to caring on every level about his food. And what you eat. After hearing about Temple Grandin’s methods for humane slaughter, Kevin changed the way he handles his cattle to use her methods.
An inspiring photographer, Kevin Thorton’s stunning images invite guests to enjoy the connecting walkway from The Fitzwilliam Hotel into his culinary sanctuary. Anticipation. Of Ireland in the kitchen.
A member of the Preferred Hotel Group, The Fitzwilliam Hotel offers a range of rates starting at about $200/night with packages including breakfasts and dinners at the delicious Citron Restaurant as well as a family plan option.
I cannot imagine staying anywhere else in Dublin but my new Fitzwilliam Hotel “home.” Worth the splurge. Looking forward to returning to “my room” at The Fitzwilliam in the near future!
More information on Kilmainham Goal
More information on Dublin Castle
More information on National Leprechaun Museum
Photos and Feature by Jodi Kaplan copyright 2014
Food photography by Kevin Thorton