A Room with a View – The Spencer
I recently had the pleasure of taking my mom to the The Spencer Hotel, located in the heart of the IFSC in Dublin city next to the river Liffey. The Spencer is ideally located, whether you stay for business or pleasure, as it is within easy walking distance of attractions such as the Bord Gais Theatre, the 3arena, the Odeon Cinema and the Abbey Theatre. There is a taxi rank outside the front door and a Luas stop a little behind the hotel giving access to the entire city.
I was pleasantly surprised by its modern but inviting exterior; designed, you felt, to draw you into its warm and cheerful interior. As soon as we walked into the hotel we immediately felt the weight of the world starting to lift. Although it was busy there was a relaxed vibe I couldn’t wait to enjoy. Inside the busy lobby a lovely modern fire blazed, along with a myriad of candles, creating a welcoming atmosphere. The reception area is clean, contemporary and modern which also has a glow to it.
At the Reception area we were greeted warmly, and immediately made to feel both welcomed and valued guests who only had to ask for anything we required. Checking in was a breeze on which we glided on over to the elevators to see our eagerly anticipated junior suite. On crossing the 4th floor landing continued the Hotels warm, neutral yet plush décor. My attention was suddenly grabbed by a flock of sheep! Some levels below a roof top has been covered by an artificial turf on which several very realistic lambs and ewes grazed, we walked up to what turned out to be a corner room and stepped into an oasis of calm and luxury.
As we entered we could see a big fluffy white bed big enough so no one is kicking you and plump enough to make you feel like you are curled up on a cloud. The room itself was spacious and well-appointed with a couch that can be pulled out if you wish to keep the bed all to yourself, a large flat screen, a Nespresso machine, a decent desk to work at if you wish to, and a large balcony furnished with a table and chairs where (Irish weather permitting) one could relax and enjoy enchanting views over Dublin, both day and night, or watch the river Liffey with its myriad life forms flow slowly by.
The large ensuite bathroom has a relaxed feel with an inviting deep bath and a lovely big separate shower which if allowed I would have moved into tomorrow. I did try to pack it into my suitcase but the marble was a tad too heavy. A real pleasure here however comes from the little touches the hotel has provided that add so much to one’s stay. The hotel staff have endeavored to cover all one’s needs from soft toweling bathrobes, matching facecloths, to all your toiletries that one may forget to pack (razors, shaving foam, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, body lotion and bath/shower gel). The little touches continued throughout the room with the hotel staff anticipating the unreliable Irish weather have placed a fine umbrella in your wardrobe and a small box of three Lindt chocolate truffles on each pillow.
Before dinner we decided to indulge in some of the Spencer’s signature cocktails, being Friday night the bar was busy yet we were immediately spotted by the staff and given a table a little away from the bustling bar. We sat down with the cocktail menu and following some guidance from the staff (Paul, Sonia & Alison) we chose some delicious and balanced cocktails, I can personally recommend the Mr Spencer (so so good), The Pornstar and the Lychee & Chili Martini.
As we were staying for pleasure we were eager to dine in the hotel’s Asian Fusion restaurant ‘East’. The food is Thai based but European tastes are catered for in an additional menu. The restaurant is comfortable, pleasant and well laid out with the bar to the side creating a lively buzz. The tables are well spaced so conversation can be private, with half wooden booths framing the restaurant and smaller tables in the centre. The booths are unique and definitely capture the Asian design. It is the staff, however, who really make this an exceptional dining experience, friendly and welcoming but also well informed about the ingredients used and cooking methods employed each dish. The staff enjoy taking care of their guests thus ensuring that their evening is both a pleasurable and a memorable experience.
Before starters we nibbled on some spicy prawn crackers which I could almost live on. To begin we ordered Grilled Chicken Skewers which marinated in Thai red chilli Paste & turmeric served with a peanut sauce, one word yum, my mom on recommendation from Sonia went with the Tempura Monkfish which was perfectly cooked and delicious. I personally am not a big fish fan but these I would happily order again. As we both love Asian food our host Paul tempted us with some Salt & Pepper Crispy Calamari which he described as “a party on your palate and everybody is invited”
We ordered a fabulous bottle of Malbec du Clos 2011 from Cahors, in south west France. This wine was beautiful, the nose was one I got lost in; the cedar tones with the dark wild berries just sang and as the meal progressed this wine got better. It was a super wine that I will search for, and although it did jar a little with one or two of the spicier dishes, I still loved it.
For mains I went with the Honey Roasted Breast of Duck with a side of noodles which was soft, moist and flavoursome whilst my Mom went with the Grilled Sea Bass Fillet on a bed of Asian vegetables with stir fried shrimp, peppers, onions & Garlic in a Light Soya Bean Paste with a side of fried rice. The fish was perfectly cooked with the sauce and veg giving the Asian spin of flavour.
For dessert we again were spoilt for choice and could not make up our minds so we decided to share two desserts an Indulgent Toffee Sponge smothered in rich toffee sauce served with crème anglaise, which had a lovely kick of ginger and a Trio of Desserts: raspberry, passionfruit and baileys mini cheese cakes. We may have fought over the raspberry but all of them were sinfully good. Overall the food was more than pleasing, you will not leave hungry!
After our meal, and feeling full and relaxed, we decided to stop in the bar for one last cocktail before bed. The staff were full of buzz and eager to please which added to the enjoyment.
The next morning after our mighty breakfast we headed back to the room to enjoy some relaxation and a catch up with the papers before heading off to the basement, as I was truly excited to find out that this hotel had a swimming pool, a full gym and spa. Here the staff were again pleasant and helpful, with all of their guests needs catered for with towels, hats and goggles being provided. We first relaxed in the very lively Jacuzzi before having a nice leisurely swim, after which we had a quick steam and a final dip in the Jacuzzi. We skipped the Gym but it looked modern and well equipped. Sadly our visit was a little too short that we didn’t have time to sample some of the delights of the Hotels Beauty Spa where treatments were priced quite well; considering they are in a hotel I would have expected a premium to be added.
Overall this lovely boutique hotel has a lot to offer, with its excellent location well-appointed rooms, lively bar and restaurant. Its premier asset however is its warm and welcoming atmosphere, which is created by its exceptional staff. We really enjoyed our stay and we look forward to our return visit.
The Spencer Hotel
T:+353 (0)1 433 8800
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Suzi is passionate about wine, beer and whiskey too, not forgetting a love of food and travel. She has been a part of this industry for a little over 10 years. She has worked on level 4 in WSET during this time and regularly hosts tastings and staff training in these sectors. She has recently started a blog on all wine, beer and spirit related beverages. You can follow her blog at suzisgrapecrush or follow Suzi on Twitter