A couple of days in Dublin’s Hard Rock Hotel left me in no doubt that it’s a chart-topper. Ireland’s first-ever Hard Rock Hotel, in two heritage buildings at the western end of Temple Bar and linked by a snazzy glass walkway, is one of the best midrange new hotels in the city for a number of years.
Despite a bumpy start – it opened in February 2020 and promptly closed again as the pandemic struck – it is quickly finding its feet, combining elegance and contemporary design with plenty of musical memorabilia and some very cool Hard Rock touches for guests to enjoy.
Not all Hard Rock is the Same
My first Hard Rock experience was in San Diego, where I was thrilled to discover that despite being part of the same family, a Hard Rock Hotel is nothing like the eponymous café. While the latter is all about the party – loud, fun and boisterous – the hotel is all about the after-party party: exclusive and limited to a select group who will appreciate the more luxurious, intimate setting.
Rock Star Rooms
You can still party hard if you like, but for that you might want the fifth-floor Rock Star Suite, complete with terrace, a sound system and BBQ – what more do you need to entertain forty of your closest friends?
The other rooms range from classic Superior – divided between Queeen, King and Twin – to Rock Royalty, which comes with a six-foot King and terrific views. If you can’t nab the top-floor suite, the Silver Suites have plenty of room and equally good views of the city, including Dublin Castle, City Hall and the old Royal Exchange building.
No matter what type of room you go for, you’ll get a rain shower bathroom loaded with Gilchrist & Soames amenities, a 50” TV and free, super-fast internet: after all, for the duration of your stay you are a rock star, and the hotel wants you to live like one.
Sound of Your Stay
You can’t be a rock star without some musical tools, so the hotel offers a Sound of Your Stay programme. Tracks offers you curated room playlists from nine different genres.
Wax is all about getting your groove on with a turntable and a stack of selected vinyl, delivered to your room.
But true rock stars make their own music and the hotel has you covered with Picks. You can reserve one of their seven Fender guitars, complete with plug-in amp and a pair of headphones, so the rest of the hotel doesn’t have to bear midnight witness to you indulging your inner Hendrix.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Memorabilia
Like all Hard Rock Hotels, there’s no shortage of genuinely impressive memorabilia scattered throughout the Dublin one. A t-shirt owned by Kurt Cobain is right by the check-in desk. A boiler suit worn by David Bowie in 1984’s Jazzin for Blue Jean is in the lobby, just opposite a t-shirt that once belonged to Beyoncé and near Justin Timberlake’s jacket. No generation is ignored.
Because this is Dublin, there’s some strong Irish notes too: Phil Lynott’s leather jacket is in the restaurant, a guitar signed by the Cranberries is in the lobby while Bono’s hand-written lyrics for Please (from the ‘Pop’ album) adorn the Rock Star Suite.
Rock Star Dining
Downstairs, beyond the Hard Rock store, is Zampas Bar & Restaurant, which is one of the best new midrange restaurants in town.
The menu is Peruvian, and if you didn’t think Dublin needed a restaurant devoted to the food of the altiplano, a visit here and you’ll realise what we’ve been missing all these years. An authentic white-fish ceviche. Papa rellena – beef cheek and potato croquettes. A whole asador Peruvian roast chicken.
These are just some of the fabulous dishes on the wide-ranging menu, which makes a point of highlighting that while the recipes might be from Peru, the ingredients are all local. The steak with the chimichurri sauce is sourced from John Stone in County Longford. The lamb rump served with potato terrine and uchucuta sauce comes from O’Flynn’s Meats in Waterford. And the rotisserie chicken coated in Aji verde marinade that is the restaurant’s signature dish and a mainstay of many a Peruvian dining experience? Straight from Manor Farm in Clonee, County Meath.
The lynchpin to any hotel experience is the staff. Get it wrong and it can tarnish even the brightest of five-star lodgings. At the Hard Rock Hotel, the staff rocks: courteous, efficient and always on hand to help when help is needed. Best of all, they all managed that rare trick of being friendly and informal without being inattentive or overbearing. It’s a combo that is at the heart of the very best Irish hotel experience.
You don’t have to be a rock star to stay here, but by the time you leave you may well feel like one. See the Dublin Calling special offer at the Hard Rock Dublin here.