With hotel rates on the rise and the holiday season about to hit summer peak, Dublin has never needed a new hotel that offered more.
So say hello to the city’s newest four-star establishment, The Samuel. Located along the glittering Spencer Dock district, The Samuel is named after Beckett – and actually after his eponymous bridge – and brings a more “indie” offering from Ireland’s largest hotel group, Dalata. The people who brought you the Clayton and Maldron brand have high hopes for this property and I checked in last month, just after it launched in April, to see if it was worth the hotel hype.
Not only is the hotel brand new, but so is much of the block it is built on, just off North Wall Quay. The hotel advertises itself as being in the ‘heart of Dublin’, but walking down from the Luas to Spenser Dock on a Sunday afternoon there is more of a quiet campus feel to the area rather than anything pulsating, although I imagine it’s a different story on a weekday with Salesforce, We Work and Pinterest all based on the same block.
Inside, the lobby has an attractive Art Deco-style reception desk flanked by a handful of stylish seating areas that all give the area a Scandi-meets-1920s look. Some furnishings don’t have the luxuries of some other four star properties I’ve visited but it still looks fresh and new and after a short queue amidst a mix of international guests I am soon checked in .
The Samuel is home to an impressive 204 rooms that feel remarkably well absorbed by the flow of the hotel. I was staying in one of Samuel’s Executive King Pads, an 8th floor corner room with a view of the docks that offers a flood of lights as soon as I open the door. It’s a bright, spacious and comfortable room in a silver and mustard color scheme and views of the Liffey atop that king bed almost give it a cruise ship feel. The bathroom (shower only) is a sleek, contemporary slate gray affair and there are also complimentary bathrobes and slippers for Netflix ‘n Chill nights. It’s a very nice piece, but given the color scheme and furnishings, it looks so much like a Maldron that it could be one too. Prospective guests should also note that while about half of the hotel’s rooms have city views, the rest get natural light by facing an interior vestibule that feels more anonymous. But I’m just happy to soak in those views and watch the cityscape sparkle below.
Meals at the hotel are centered around Samuel’s Bar & Grill of the same name on the ground floor. It is a beautifully designed Grand Cáfé style restaurant, dripping with Art Deco touches as well as splashes of colorful prints of various Dublin sights and characters, including Beckett himself. Chef Daniel Byrne is billed as the curator of a ‘globally influenced’ menu fueled by local produce and there’s quite an extensive choice of the usual Jamaican rib grill dishes, from Chole Marsala curries to seared Mediterranean sea bass.
I went vegetarian and opted for a very good warm goats cheese salad which was filling and very reasonably priced for a starter these days at €8.50. As a main course, two beautiful slices of halloumi served on a bed of artichokes and cherry tomatoes (€17) hit the mark. Things got a bit off the rails with the dessert with the specifically labeled gluten-free chocolate mousse served on a suspicious-looking cookie, which turned out was actually not gluten-free. One oversight that could have ruined the meal was that my gluten-free radar wasn’t on point. The breakfast, which is a buffet affair, was much more on the money in this respect. There were gluten free croissants and bread as well as a gluten free toaster which is a welcome addition to the breakfast buffet setup. I opted for a mix of fresh fruit and gluten-free muesli which came hot from the kitchen and besides, you can expect the whole gauntlet of modern Irish breakfast spreads, full Irish free-range stations – service with mini-smoothies, cheese and charcuterie. The staff are excellent, especially Maitre D’ diamond Mag from Gdansk who gives all guests the VIP treatment.
Breakfast rates usually add €16 per person, so if you’re not a big morning eater, consider opting for room rates and grabbing a coffee and pastry at the Red Roastery, the coffee roaster independent hotel cafe located on the ground floor which aims to be a popular venue not only for guests but also for locals.
The Samuel is a refined hotel and offers a hotel experience consistent with its sister hotel portfolios, Clayton and Maldron.
In terms of branding it was just a shame to me that the hotel looks so much like the sister property rather than a Maldron style sister property and the rooms in particular seemed to have missed an opportunity to stamp their own individuality.
That doesn’t detract from the hotel’s merits, and it’s a good base, especially for those heading to the Three Arena, Convention Center, or Bord Gais Energy Theater.
I would come back with pleasure.