Saturday, 2 July 2016

REVIEW - HILTON GARDEN INN DUBLIN CUSTOM HOUSE

POSSIBLY THE BEST HILTON REDEMPTION IN DUBLIN ? 


Don't be too surprised if you haven't heard of this hotel before. It's only been in the Hilton portfolio for a couple of weeks, having previously been a Jury's hotel. It was closed for many months, whilst a complete re-fit was undertaken. The re-fit clearly went well, as although initially only taking bookings from the 1st of July, they brought that forward a bit, with people staying since the 20th of June. That was only stage one of the refit, with the next stage being the installation of centralised air-conditioning (more on that later), and an extension to provide more rooms.

I had a concert in the Three arena this past weekend, and so I'd thought I'd give it a go....



The first thing that attracted me to try out this new Hilton was the location. It's located on the Liffey, just 15 minutes walk away from the Three Arena, you just leave the hotel, turn left, walk 15 minutes and you are there. It is by far the closest chain hotel to the venue. It's also 5 minutes walk away from the Dublin bus station, 10 minutes from the train station, and 15 minutes from O'Connell street.


The hotel has an arrangement with a connecting public car park, and offers 24hrs of parking for €16. (The fee is mentioned on the website, but it just says public parking and gives no indication of where the car park is located). We actually journeyed into Dublin by bus, so after the 5 min walk, we arrived at the hotel.The foyer has a nice up-market feel, is spacious and well lit. The check-in staff quickly found my reservation and noted I'd checked in online. She gave me a voucher for breakfast for the two of us (my Diamond benefit). The standard redemption here is a room with a queen bed. When online check-in opened the day before, I was offered a King room on a lower floor. At that stage I declined. On the morning of our arrival, I went thru the on-line check-in again, and this time was offered a selection of  king rooms with riverview on the 5th floor (there are only 6 floors), and I chose one of those. So it wasn't a surprise to me that this was the room that was waiting for me.

 The hallway and room had that "new" smell, and it was clear that the room, like every other part of the hotel I saw, was a brand new fit, from top to bottom, including contactless door locking. The room was well appointed, with tea making facilities, an empty fridge, and a great comfortable King bed. The bathroom was a bit "compact", with an over-the-bath shower. The shower head was attached to the wall and was a fixed height, which invariably means it's too high for short people, and too low for tall people !

I always find it tough to take bathroom pics, and this is no exception !

The view over the liffey.
One thing to note about the room, is that there is no air-conditioning. There is a tabletop fan in the room, and the window does open, but at just 5 floors up, the noise from the traffic is very apparent. It was only 15c outside the night we stayed, but still the room was quite stuffy and warm during the night. The fan was a mixed bag, it did provide airflow, but was quite noisy. Also of note is that there wasn't any bottled water supplied in the room.

We went down and had a pre-concert drink. I was advised that although food service normally stops at 10pm, on a concert night, they serve pizzas right up to midnight, and also the bar is open 7 days a week til 1:30am.


Breakfast is served is the same general area as the bar. There was a great selection of usual buffet style fare. Unusually for a hotel at this level, but a standard for the Hilton Garden Inn brand, they had an egg station with a chef ready to do eggs/omelettes to your liking, and also had a waffle making station. tea/coffee was either do it youself, or you could go to the barista (front of the above picture) and have something freshly made.

Having said the food was in the bar area, there was also an open plan, but semi-enclosed area, into which we were invited to eat our breakfast. I'm unsure if this was because we are diamonds, or if that had nothing to do with it.

Thoughts and Conclusions.

On check-out I spoke to the senior guy on the desk about the air-conditioning situation. He advised that air-conditioning is definitely in the next phase of the re-fit, and suggested it'll be operational should we be back next year.  The thing I find strange about that is that I couldn't see in our brand new room, anywhere that centralised AC could be ducted. If you are re-doing a room with the plan to fit AC, you'd imagine it would be stupid not to have the preparatory work already done, and just block off the duct.  He also advised that although there is no bottled water provided in the rooms, we should have been presented with bottled water as part of the check-in process, and apologised for that not being done.

My normal go-to Hilton hotel for a Dublin concert is the Morrison Doubletree. It's also on the North bank of the Liffey, but 25 minutes walk further up the river, making it about 40 mins walk to the venue. It is a somewhat better location for accessing the Temple Bar area.  However the standard redemption there is 60K a night, compared to 40K for the Garden Inn. There are other Hiltons in Dublin whose standard redemption are 30K, but IMO, their locations are nowhere near as prime as the Doubltree and the Garden Inn.

We really enjoyed our stay at the Hilton Garden Inn. It's location for us was as good as you could have.  The breakfast was great, the public areas excellent, and the room, lack of A/C aside, was absolutely fine.

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