Hotel review

Hotel review: Zanzibar Locke turns an old nightclub into a new aparthotel in Dublin


Do you remember Zanzibar on Ormond Quay in Dublin?

If you do, you might not have been there. The 1,200-seat superpub opened in 1998 as the Celtic Tiger began to roar, and its beefy bouncers, sinking patrons and the bling-tastic barn of an interior became a lightning rod. for a controversial cultural debate at the turn of the century. Was it the future of Irish nightlife or the death of the Irish pub?

Today, space is changing again. 160 studios now form the sixth apart-hotel (and the first outside the UK) of Locke, a self-proclaimed “home-meets-hotel” brand. There’s a hot-desk and cafe in the lobby, small plates and handcrafted cocktails served at the upstairs Baraza, and room requests can be sent via WhatsApp – a technology that the original Zanzibar crowd doesn’t. could not have imagined (and maybe for the better).

Welcome to Zanzibar Locke.

Arrival and location

Whether you are checking in for the weekend or for several weeks, the location is plum. Located right by the Ha’penny Bridge, you can hop across the river to Temple Bar, Henry Street, or Capel Street in minutes. Dublin is literally on your doorstep, although good soundproofing also means you’ll get a good night’s sleep.

Passing a security barrier, I walk past Georgian facades to enter a hall with the café, workspaces and a small, original reception area. I could imagine the next Collison brothers typing on laptops near the exposed masonry, Roisín Murphy singing on a playlist that seems curated by humans, and a trendy receptionist in shorts, oversized suit jacket, and face mask connects me with. a key card. 8/10

Service and style


One of the studio beds at Zanzibar Locke

One of the studio beds at Zanzibar Locke

Fortunately, this is not a cookie-cutter effort. Locke aims to set itself apart from competitors like StayCity by leaning into design, and its Dublin edition was created in collaboration with Irish studio O’Donnell O’Neill.

There is artwork by NCAD students, music by DJ Mona Lxsa, and a locally-run cultural program as restrictions ease, National Director Osgur Ó Ciardha (formerly of Jacobs Inn and Generator Hostel in Dublin). Expect vintage fashion nights, or new pieces of street art, for example. “There is a cultural tax, and we are happy to pay it,” as he puts it. I like Locke’s “social fabric” talk, but we’ll have to see if that works too.

Elsewhere you will find a small workout studio and a cool patio in the backyard. I see several young couples coming and going – guests are about 30% leisure and 70% long-stay, I was told, including business and some for relocations. seven/ten

The rooms


One of the rooms at Zanzibar Locke

One of the rooms at Zanzibar Locke

One of the rooms at Zanzibar Locke

You have two options: 25m² City Studios or 40m² River Suites, which are larger and have a better view. Both aim for a clean mix of Scandi meets industrial and mid-century, with touches like stamped concrete, marble countertops, contemporary prints, and pops of gold in handles, bars, and faucets.

“Loft” is the word I can’t get out of my mind. At first the pale pink dividing walls and veils seem a bit bland, but I’m soon starting to find functional layers in the design. There is a small L-shaped sofa; yoga mat, hairdryer and iron. A Smart TV has a short but solid list of neighborhood tips (Pantibar and The Winding Stair, for starters). Wi-Fi is fast at 100 mbs (“buffering is not welcome here”), and the connection creates your own SSID or network that you can use to run your devices, game consoles, or printer from anywhere in the building.

You can cook, but foodies may find the kitchen units a bit cramped – Smeg appliances include a small refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, and two-burner induction hob. Cutlery was hard to find in my studio, but there are handy QR codes to scan if you have issues with appliances, and housekeeping is available on request. Oh, and there are also eight generously sized accessible rooms. 8/10

Food drink


Baraza, Zanzibar Locke's restaurant

Baraza, Zanzibar Locke’s restaurant

Baraza, Zanzibar Locke’s restaurant

Baraza is the bar and restaurant on the ground floor, on the mezzanine and on the first floor. If you’ve ever eaten on the winding staircase next door, you’ll know what to expect from those lovely first-floor views of the Ha’penny Bridge – it’s a great room, with a mix of arched sash windows , a curved emerald-green tiled wall and a mezzanine that will be a neat nook once the drinks and dining inside have resumed.

Small platters range from grilled cauliflower (€ 7) to “pan-fried scallops” (€ 14) and pork belly with Asian vegetables (€ 12) – although my favorite dish is actually a crispy side of French fries. parmesan polenta and a delicious aioli.

I would love to see more provenance on the menus, and a ‘Dublin Mess’ dessert (€ 6.50) is disappointing, with fatty cream and no sign of the promised ‘seasonal raspberries’, but a space like this requires more time (and clients) to evolve before a full verdict.

Many guests will have breakfast in their apartments, but I have mine in the lobby – a fairly basic selection of pastries, juice from a plastic bottle, and a pot of yogurt and granola. Seems a bit limited, but hot breakfasts will follow on weekends, I’m told, and there’s a nice cup of coffee to send me back to town with a little pizzazz in my walk. 6.5 / 10

The bottom line


Kitchen units in a Riverview Studio

Kitchen units in a Riverview Studio

Kitchen units in a Riverview Studio

At times Locke’s ‘hybrid travel’ look looks like a hip TV, but he did his homework, teamed up smartly, and recruited a team with genuine grá for Dublin. The occupancy rate is around 70%, which is stratospheric in a city of empty hotel rooms, and I look forward to seeing it connect more with the community once restrictions allow. Another aparthotel, Beckett Locke, will open in the docks later this year.

Insider tips

Room 2.30 is a ‘riverside studio’ combining views of Liffey with the look and feel of the studio. Late check out can be booked for € 10, and it also accepts pets.

Local 101

Head to Capel Street for al fresco dining. Brother Hubbard, Musashi and Hilan are just three options offering new tables along the street.


Entrance prices start from € 125 per night. Pól was a guest of the hotel.

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