December in Dublin

River Liffy

Winter in Dublin: This year was a tricky one to organise for our biannual family trip with my 3 adult children when looking for another Winter destination. We’ve done Iceland, Newcastle, Tenerife, New York and Vegas, so where could we go that would suit us all and that none of us had really ‘done’. I couldn’t bring myself to take them to Amsterdam considering I don’t even behave like a grown up when I’m here, so we all decided on Dublin! Not too far away and something for everyone!

As a Hilton member, I chose the Hilton Garden Inn at Custom House which is right on the River Liffy. A great position, contemporary hotel with newly refurbished rooms and views of the river. We took a 20/25 minute walk most days into the centre, but that’s what City breaks are all about, counting the steps.

Christmas was a great time to go, with a huge array of Christmas city lighting, moving light installations on buildings and bridges, mulled ciders (though we couldn’t find a mulled Guinness) and everyone still in party mode, waiting for New Year’s Eve.

There’s quite a lot to do in Dublin, we started at the interactive Emmigration museum which was right next door to our hotel. Took about an hour and a half to get round and the highlight for me was seeing my 21yr old follow the painted footsteps of an Irish dancer whilst the violins and accordions were playing him round doing his jig!

Epic, The Emmigration Museum

After a quick bite to eat at the very casual but actually very nice High Street Café called SoMa (self-service ordering delivered to the table), we then hopped on the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus, always one of my highlights on a City break and one I’m not usually allowed to do because him indoors thinks they’re too touristy! I think they’re a great way to get round a city, and also a way of getting your bearings and seeing what to visit next.

Our second tourist attraction was of course the Guinness Storehouse, chosen as an afternoon activity in case we all had a bit too much of a taster and needed a lie down before dinner, however, it was not to be. I hate Guinness, so does my daughter and so does my youngest son, so we all did the polite thing, had a taste, ordered our free pint, and gave them all to the 21yr old Irish dancer! It was set out on 6 floors, round and apparently in the shape of a Guinness glass, with the rooftop bar as the climax, another fun place to visit with adult kids.

Obligatory beer moustache photo

Dublin isn’t cheap, couldn’t really get an evening meal for 4 under 100 euros with no alcohol, (which didn’t happen very often, the no alcohol bit I mean), so it’s definitely not a bargain city. We discovered a lovely Italian restaurant, Caverna, which was probably the cheapest of our dinners, nothing to look at from the outside, but definitely one of the nicest. Temple Bar was as expected, but definitely worth a visit, buzzing and full of the young, reminded me a bit of Newcastle town centre on a Saturday night. It’s definitely a place for the younger generation, but those my age can blend in quite well.

Gaol

We visited the Gaol, which was so fascinating, kids loved that one, and finally an escape room. That’s our thing, that’s what we do when we’re all together, and the kids usually just tell me to sit down and shut up whilst they get us out, and I usually end up showing them the way! It was very tempting for us all to leave the 21yr old Guinness drinking Irish jigger handcuffed to a chair for the duration of the experience, but guilt took over and we found the key to release him. We got out of this one with 5 minutes to spare and joined the other 30% who managed to escape.

Had a delicious brunch at Sophie’s at the top of The Dean Hotel, I would recommend the hotel, it looked like a lovely boutique style place to stay, in the St Stephen’s Green area, delicious brunch and a lovely outdoor area which is probably heaving in the Summer.

For our grand finale, we took a trip out of Dublin up to the highest pub in Ireland, Johnnie Fox’s established in 1798. Luckily for us they have their Hooley on a Saturday night, top class Irish singers and dancers set to entertain you whilst sitting on long school dinner type table and eating a delicious four course meal. Very touristy, but in the room that night were people from Cuba, Iran, Lithuania, Belarus, Germany, Canada, London and Dublin! Another great experience, and you always know you’re onto a winner when the kids change their mind about their most favourite experience there!

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