Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin, Ireland

Using Marriott points, we stayed at the luxurious Shelbourne Hotel – a bucket-list hotel destination. Since 1842, notable international A-list guests and the creme de la creme of Irish society have celebrated life’s special moments, such as the drafting of the Irish Constitution, within the walls of this iconic luxury hotel. The history of the hotel has been archived in the Shelbourne museum and two historical books: The Shelbourne Hotel by Elizabeth Bowen and The Shelbourne and its People by Michael O’Sullivan and Bernardine O’Neil. It is a Renaissance hotel, a Marriott brand.

This venerable institution is steeped in history and opulence – and worth the visit just to say you have been.

How we paid for the experience…

As a travel hacker, I usually pay for extreme luxury travel infrastructure (e.g., first class flights, hotels) experiences with funny money (e.g., rewards, promotions). It’s a thing.  In order to stay at the Shelbourne, we ordered two Marriott credit cards that provided more reward points than required to stay at the Shelbourne, and also charged no currency conversion on cash withdrawals and purchases on this foreign adventure.  The travel hacking community values points in many different ways, for example many value a Marriott point at ~0.7-0.8 cents per point. I prefer to value the points based on what I would have paid through Expedia or Trip Advisor or some such for the same stay in the same hotel. This usually produces a lower, and I think more realistic estimated value for the points, since hotels are usually available well below the rack rate.

  • Cost: Category 8 Marriott hotel, 40,000 Marriott Points for a room that Expedia would sell me for about C$500 (value ~1.25 cents a point) for a room with two double beds.

Location and Arrival

The Shelbourne is located in the heart of Dublin, minutes from upscale shopping on Grafton Street, the National Gallery of Ireland, and Trinity College, overlooking St. Stephen’s Green.

It is a grand palatial Victorian building.

shelbourne hotel

I was politely greeted by a courteous doorman in a top-hat, who asked if I would like to have my bags carried, rather than discretely taking them from me, despite the fact I was visibly struggling with them; as a result I chose to carry them myself and save the tip.

shelbourne doorman

First impression: A classic grand hotel, elegant traditional décor, fabulous art, well-heeled clientel. This hotel is clearly designed for the very wealthy. A gaggle of people were in the front foyer dressed in designer gowns and tuxes, probably part of a wedding party.

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Check in took about 10 minutes; we had to ask for the complimentary breakfast and drink coupons that we were entitled to by our status.

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Hotel staff were polite and professional, but did not go out of their way for us or make us feel special.

The Room

The room was of moderate size, beautifully decorated with a hint of neo-classical glitz, air-conditioned, non-smoking, and connecting to our travelling companions’ room. Overall, it was not out of the ordinary. It was not mobility accessible, but other rooms in the hotel may be.

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There was a large comfy chair with ottoman and a desk with a good chair, however there were only two pieces of paper, a few envelopes, and no pen. The room had the standard alarm clock, safe, iron and ironing board, and suitcase bench – of upper middle class quality.

The bed was built for giants. It came to the top of my hip and I needed to use the ottoman to climb into bed. The mattress was of moderate firmness covered by a down (or at least down-like) pillow-top, high thread count sheets and duvet.  No chocolates on pillow – just a witty quotation.

quote: no human being believes that any other human being has a right to be in bed when he himself is up. Robert Lynd

The closets were spacious, but not unusually so.

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The view was unfortunately rather dreary (but nothing that a bit of psychedelic color adjustment can’t fix).

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Internet and phones: Phone, voicemail, high speed Internet, wired Internet, wireless Internet.

Entertainment: flat screen TV with remote control, international cable/satellite, movies, pay-per-view, radio, iPod dock, power sockets in useful places, one magazine.

Food and Beverage: well stocked mini-bar, complimentary bottled water, coffee maker/tea service. I expected more – like maybe a small bowl of fruit or un petit carre de chocolat.

The room was clean, but there were blood spots on the curtain.

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Bathroom

First impressions: average size, black/white/grey marble and glass art deco décor, clean.

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Amenities: basic (although I am sure that if I wanted extras they would have been provided), hair dryer, nice robes, slippers, Elemis toiletries.

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Elemis, high-end shampoo etc.

Bath/shower/taps/water pressure: wide tub, rainshower in bath, great water pressure.

Toilet: basic, good pressure, no bidet/washlet… having recently been to Japan (where Toto toilet/washlets set the international best standard) it was hard not to be disappointed.

Towels: various sizes although none of them very big, good quality.

Make-up mirror: situated too high to be of use to me.

Dining at the Shelbourne

Breakfast in the Saddleroom Restaurant: An exceptional Irish breakfast buffet and the included a-la-carte breakfast menu rocked (I have had better, but not often). The waiter spilled coffee on me.

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The Shelbourne Eggs Benedict (on the free a-la-carte breakfast menu) really rocked, with perfect slabs of steak between the egg and the English muffin

Horseshoe Bar: the bar’s name derives from the horseshoe-shape of its counter. If its rich red walls could gossip it would tell tales of “craic” (fun) whisky tasting flights in this national institution. The barman was extremely professional and helpful.

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Amenities and services: spa, pool, tennis court, fitness center, business center, 24-hour room service, 24-hour concierge service, free shoe shines, genealogy butler – will help guests trace their Irish ancestry. I did not use any of this, so cannot comment, but someone who is into genealogy would probably have fun.

Overall, a lovely hotel. The five stars are justified, though it was lacking the extra touches that I would expect in a hotel in this price range.

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