Whether it’s a taxi driver or a local you bonded with over a cocktail or two, whenever you tell people in Dublin that you’re staying at Riu Plaza The Gresham hotel, they look really impressed and comment on what a beautiful hotel it is.
I always follow up with ‘..but have you actually stayed there or seen the rooms?’ to which they (obviously) reply ‘No’ – I mean, I reckon the chances of anyone staying in a hotel in their own city are pretty slim, regardless of where you go.
While the hotel may be one of the original historic hotels in Dublin, with a grand building, an opulent lobby that looks very upmarket and a fancy restaurant, writers bar and gin bar.. what lays beyond the facade are some pretty shabby, dated rooms and less than mediocre service.
Having spent a considerable length of time in Dublin, (read about why, here) I’ve come to realise that the North side isn’t desirable and it’s my least favourite area to stay in. It’s somewhat gritty; it doesn’t feel overly safe particularly as many of the restaurants, cafes and bars warn you to beware of pickpockets in this area and you can’t walk down O’Connell street without having at least two people coming up to you asking for change.
Simply by crossing O’Connell bridge towards the Trinity/Temple Bar area, you can almost immediately see/feel the difference – it’s really strange.
On arrival, we checked into room 200, on the second floor – great location within the hotel as it was right next to the lift. The layout of the room felt a bit like an apartment due to the ‘living room’ type set up around the corner from the bed itself and again, this was great.
The bedroom area however, felt extremely claustrophobic which is hard to convey from the photos, but there was a gap of about 1 foot on either side of the bed; meaning it’d have been virtually impossible to get out of bed without banging into the wall. The window looked out onto the Luas (tram) stop outside the hotel on the main road; O’Connell Street which meant it was quite noisy too.
We called reception and asked whether they had another room available, possibly one that was slightly bigger, and as luck would have it, they did – a deluxe room in the Lavery wing – room 472.
In comparison, this was certainly much more spacious – having a separate dressing table and desk area felt like a treat, particularly as I’d be spending most of my time working from the hotel. The decor was slightly different to the other room, but it still had that shabby look and musty feel – with threadbare, stained carpets, a draught from the window and ripped, bobbly bed linen, it just felt like the type of hotel room you’d want to spend minimal time in.
The bed wasn’t very comfortable; the pillows and duvet were extremely thin which didn’t make it seem very cosy or inviting, the linen was torn in parts and looked very old, while the mattress itself was just far too soft. I didn’t sleep very well here, either waking up a few times in the night when turning around in bed, or waking up each morning with a sore back.
Thankfully the bathroom was clean and looked like it had undergone some relatively recent renovation; around 10 years ago or so which was fine.
While staying here, we had some friends who’d flown out from London to spend a couple of days with us which was brilliant timing as I didn’t fancy the thought of working from this hotel room all day.
Housekeeping services are something I never feel the need to mention in a review, but it was all a bit strange at this hotel. The maids appear to start work at around 7am, and together with all the noise we heard outside our door at that hour, they’d start knocking on the doors asking if we wanted our rooms cleaned. I’m not a morning person, and though I was waking up early to have breakfast with Jass at 7am, (I’m sure he’d disagree and say I was sleepwalking or that it was like dining with a zombie – I really don’t do mornings!) that is a ridiculous hour to be knocking on people’s doors and we found it very irritating.
We’d come back after being out all day to find that the maids had left their dirty cleaning rags in the bathroom, pulled out all the magazines/booklets/room service menus that we’d tucked away in the drawer each day to put out on display again and leave both windows wide open – definitely not something you want in January in Dublin! It was -1 degree celcius when we got in last night, and it took ages for the room to warm up too!
Breakfast is decent and they have the usual full Irish breakfast and continental selection to chose from for €16 per person. It’s not something I’d pay for additionally unless it was included as part of the booking, given that there are so many fab eateries just a stone’s throw away.
While the Riu Plaza the Gresham hotel may have 4 stars and a name that seems to impress people, I personally wouldn’t stay here again. There are plenty of other 4 star hotels in the city (four of which I’ve stayed at) that I’d chose over this one – and many of them are more affordable too. My top picks would be Temple Bar hotel or Trinity City hotel which I reviewed here.