Thursday, 30th October 2014

TRAVEL: Experience the charm of the Irish

The last 10 to 15 years has witnessed the emergence of a new tradition for the British tourist. Fuelled by economy airline fares and a move away from the typical sun, sea and sand getaways, the European city break has become a new phenomenon.

For many destinations it is now the fare of the taxi to the airport that outweighs the cost of the flights. With companies offering fares to European capitals from as little as £3 return (including taxes and fares), it is no wonder that bargain break alternatives have become so popular.

Just a 50 minute flight from Birmingham International lands you in Dublin – which has steadily grown into a historical and cultural metropolis, oozing life and appeal.

Within 15 minutes of arriving, I was at the Ardmore Hotel – my home for the next two nights.

Situated between Finglas and Glasnevin, on the northern outskirts of the city, the Ardmore offers rooms starting at just €45 per night. Sitting on a regular bus route, the hotel is in an ideal location for those hoping to avoid the late night hustle of the town centre, but still being close enough to enjoy everything it has to offer.

Speaking with hotel manager Donna Curry upon arrival gave a further insight into what Dublin has to offer.

She said: “We get people visiting from all over the world and that adds to the vibrancy of the city.

“The hotel works in conjunction with nearby attractions, such as Dublin Zoo and this allows us to offer things such as extended family passes to the zoo. What we try to push is value for money in a convenient location.

“The Ardmore is perfect for tourists looking to avoid the high rates charged in the city centre. We are a friendly hotel welcoming all and we do so at great convenience and for the best value for money.”

Crisp, clean rooms and excellent friendly service make the hotel an extremely good base to enjoy the city. And with the hotel offering a continental or full Irish breakfast and live music every Saturday and Sunday night a visit to the town centre is not always a necessity.

But since I was here it would be rude not to venture downtown.

Visitors flock in their millions each year to visit the attractions Dublin has on offer, none less so than Arthur Guinness’ Storehouse. Alongside the Jameson’s brewery, also located in the city, the Storehouse offers a fascinating insight into Ireland’s most famous export.

A tour costs €15 and includes a glimpse into the history of the drink, as well as a tasting class, and a complimentary pint in the Gravity Bar – surely one of the best places to enjoy a glass of the black stuff with its sweeping panoramic views across the city.

A 10 minute stroll down the Liffey brings you to the Temple Bar area. Renowned for its shopping, cuisine and nightlife, Temple Bar can come at a cost. As a result of being a tourist hotspot, prices in the area can often be expensive. A pint of Guinness will usually cost between five and six Euros.

But for the younger generation it is certainly the place to be. The craic of the Irish lasts well into the early hours and the surrounding suburbs also offer traditional folk music and of course, a drink or two.

Having said that, there is one conundrum Dublin has managed to cunningly avoid. With the strength of the Euro and the National Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art, National and National History Museums not to mention Trinity College, City Hall, and the National Library it could add up to an expensive sight seeing tour. Not so. Each of these Dublin attractions share one key, clever characteristic: they’re free.

When contrasting Dublin’s free entry features against those of London or Paris it’s no contest. With an endless list of activities and places to visit it’s no wonder the influx of visitors has rocketed. The myth of the unwelcome Englishman has never been less true – the city is buoyant and can still be enjoyed at a reasonable cost.

To book a room at the Ardmore Hotel visit www.ardmore-hotel.com

For more information on the Guinness Storehouse visit www.guinness-storehouse.com.

By Joseph Masi