Insider Tips

Insider Tips from Dublin's Top Concierges

By Visit DublinDublin's Official Tourism SiteBIO
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Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel recently shone a light on The Society of the Crossed Keys, a guild of concierges with an international network and a reputation for impeccable attention to detail. Fantastical? Yes, but not entirely far-fetched. Lets look a little closer at Dublin's own...


On the lapel of your hotel’s concierge, you might just see it – a shiny gold crossed-key emblem. This is the symbol of Les Clefs d’Or, an international organisation of concierges that not only signals membership, but also guarantees quality service. To benefit from their in-depth and on-the-pulse knowledge of the city, we spoke to three of Dublin’s top concierges to hear their insider tips.

Denis O’Brien of The Shelbourne

What hidden gems of Dublin do you love telling guests about?

The problem here is where to start! My personal hidden gem for food is The Green Hen. The staff are really friendly and mid-week, they do a great early bird menu!  Another favourite is the Iveagh Gardens off Harcourt Street. In the middle of the city, it’s such an oasis of quietness and calm. There are lots of little nooks and crannies where you can sit and have your lunch, relax and watch the world go by. Also not a million miles away from me here at The Shelbourne is the Little Museum of Dublin, where you’ll find items that have played a role in the lives of the people of Dublin over the past 150 years, and if you happen to get Ciaran as your guide, you’re in for a particulalrly entertaining tour!

Insider Tips from Dublin's Top Concierges
Insider Tips from Dublin's Top Concierges
Where is your favourite escape from the city?

One of the great things about our capital city is that within an hour, north, south or west, you can be totally in nature. For me, you can’t beat Wicklow, which is just 40 minutes down the road. Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry is gorgeous and after another half hour or less, you’re at Glendalough or Lough Tay. Wicklow is considered to be ‘the garden county’ and to have that on Dublin’s doorstep is just fantastic. There are plenty of day tours that leave the city each morning and drop you back in the evening so there is no excuse not to see a bit more of Ireland’s beauty!

What is the best way to see Dublin on a budget?

The best way to see Dublin on a budget is to take a Hop On Hop Off bus tour. The bus drivers alone are one of the many high points you’ll discover, with live commentary and even a bit of singing! It maximises your time, while minimising effort and expense. If you want to see the whole of the city in two days, take the bus. You can see so much from the top. For eating out, Dublin has come a long way too. You can have a very decent meal for under €15.

Paul Fitzsimons of Doubletree by Hilton

What hidden gems of Dublin do you love telling guests about?

The Chester Beatty Library doesn’t get the recognition it so well deserves, it’s within the walls of Dublin Castle and completely free. The array of manuscripts, rare books and drawings there is just fascinating. There’s also Marsh's Library, which is over 300 hundred years old and one of the very few buildings left that is still used as it was originally intended. You’ll really feel like you’re being transported back in time. It’s a true hidden gem, one of my top recommendations and just around the corner from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Insider Tips from Dublin's Top Concierges
Insider Tips from Dublin's Top Concierges
What is your favourite historical site in Dublin?

I have too many to mention as I love my history. It never ceases to amaze me just how much incredible history this city has to offer us, St Audoen's Gate and the Old City Walls for sure. I visit there a lot, as standing under or atop of the walls gives you a sense of what it was like in that area hundreds of years ago. Dublin Decoded do a great tour of Medieval Dublin, including the city walls, which are often disregarded. I also make regular visits to Kilmainham Gaol – the history involved there is both intense and harrowing. The tour at Glasnevin Cemetery Museum really brings the past to life and the grounds are now connected through a gateway to the National Botanic Gardens which are also well worth a visit.

What restaurants would you recommend to your guests?

Restaurant recommendations vary depending on the guest's palate. Within the locality of the hotel is The Canal Bank Café. For fine dining, Pearl Brasserie would top the list, as well as DaxFallon and Byrne is also amazing and as for the trendier restaurants, I love Rustic Stone and Fade St Social. There is also Brookwood which is excellent for steak and seafood.

Conor O’Connell of Brooks Hotel

What in your opinion makes the role of concierge so special?

It's so important when a guest gets out of the lift in the morning that I can say "Good morning John" and "Good morning Mary". People come here from all over the world, and the main thing they love about the Irish is our friendliness and unique warmth. You can't beat personal customer service. I’d often call ahead to the restaurant a couple have booked and asked if they can do something special for them. I like to find out if a couple are honeymooners or going to get married. Then I head to Grafton St and get the finest roses, which I bring upstairs for the housekeepers to do a heart-shape on the bed. What can you say? I'm an old romantic!

What hidden gems of Dublin do you love telling guests about?

Powerscourt Townhouse is a real gem. It’s a stunning old Georgian house converted into an elegant shopping centre. I don’t think enough visitors know about it. There’s The Pepperpot café upstairs, lots of lovely designer boutiques and you can also take a tour of the house which dates back to 1774. The Little Museum of Dublin is really something too. I love it there.

Insider Tips from Dublin's Top Concierges
Insider Tips from Dublin's Top Concierges
What do you think is the best tour in Dublin?

If you want to do a walking tour, Pat Liddy is amazing. His knowledge is incredible. When he walks into the hotel, you can see just how vibrant and on the ball he is. He loves people, he knows what he’s about and he knows everything about this city. He’s part of the friendliness and genuine warmth that is unique to Dublin and this is so often remarked upon by our guests. Dublin is also a compact city, so exploring by foot is easy.

Where is your favourite escape from the city?

I love Dalkey, just jump on the DART heading south of the city. It’s absolutely beautiful and old-worldly. It’s lovely to walk there. All the celebs live out there of course, like Bono and Van Morrison. When I think of Dalkey, I think of Maeve Binchy and what she said about being able to stroll around, read the paper and relax. That’s something that’s great about Dublin, celebrities are left alone; it’s not intrusive.