Party time in Dublin

by Richard Baker

With pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants, Dublin has enough entertainment to keep even the wildest party animal happy. If you still have the energy, there are plenty of daytime activities too

There are many reasons to visit Dublin – the culture, the history, maybe family ties – and then there’s the craic. Pronounced “crack”, it’s what the Irish call enjoying themselves or having a good time. And there’s no shortage of opportunity to do just that in Ireland’s capital city.

Dublin is awash with enough bars, pubs, restaurants and clubs to keep even the most hardened of hedonists in fully party mode for months without ever getting drunk in the same place twice. However, this does come at a price, for Dublin is by no means the cheapest of towns. Drinks are particularly expensive, although the further you get away from the main tourist traps – near the River Liffey or anywhere close to O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main shopping area – the more prices drop to something approaching merely steep.

For instance, using that favourite Irish icon, the pint of Guinness, as a yardstick, you can gauge pretty much where you are in relation to the glossier parts of the city. If you’re charged between €5 and €6 for a noggin of the black stuff, you can bet you’re rubbing shoulders with other naive foreigners with a thirst. Pay less and the chances are you’re in a boozer frequented mainly by locals.

So, providing you’re not put off by the price of beer – and pretty much anything else alcoholic – where to go? Well, stag and hen parties, plus fun-seekers generally, tend to head for Temple Bar, an area which has more than its fair share of places to help you in your search for a knees-up and a hangover.

Pubs in the area include the Temple Bar, the Oliver St John Gogarty and the Turk’s Head to name but a handful, while clubs can be found to suit every taste.

One worth a visit is Club M in Cope Street, which offers a couple of “chill out” areas on its lower level with comfortable leather seating and relaxed sounds making it a perfect choice for larger groups, although you should book in advance. For more discerning customers, the club’s mezzanine level is home to the Elysium Champagne & VIP bar.

Then there’s Gaiety in South Great George Street, which is the campest gay club in Dublin, but it’s still straight-friendly. There are lots of bars and the warren-like structure of this beautiful old building means you almost need a map to find your way around. Gaiety is a particularly good destination for fans of Latin and jazz, or indeed for an older crowd.

Spy/Wax in William Street South are two flashy, upmarket clubs in one – Spy upstairs, Wax below. Spy is for those who like to watch and be watched rather than sweat on the dance floor, while Wax is all about the dancing, predominantly to house and hip hop. Spy also has a dress code and a fairly strict door policy, but Wax goes the other way and jeans are acceptable.

Where to sleep

So that’s just a sample of the nightlife in Dublin, but where to rest your weary head and aching feet after all this self-indulgence? Well, again you’re spoilt for choice with accommodation to suit all pockets.

If you want to keep close to the action with just a short stagger to your bed afterwards, the three-star Temple Bar Hotel could be a good option. Located on Fleet Street, it’s also near some fairly serious shopping areas, while many of Dublin’s top visitor attractions are only a few minutes' walk away.

If you want to keep a bit of space between yourself and the exuberance of Temple Bar, you might like to opt for Jurys Inn Parnell Street. It’s a comfortable, three-star hotel which also boasts one of the best breakfasts ever to settle a clubber’s stomach. A generous buffet offers a terrific fry-up, including some of the most perfectly cooked bacon I’ve ever tasted, as well as all of the pastries, cheese, cold meats, porridge and cereals you can eat.

Anyone with more exclusive tastes might prefer the Westbury Hotel in Grafton Street. This five-star, luxury hotel is home to Wilde - The Restaurant, offering both table d’hote and a la carte menus, in addition to an impressive wine list. the Westbury Hotel is where you can also enjoy afternoon tea in The Gallery, which is something of an institution among the city’s business and social elite.

Daytime activities

But what do during the daytime? No man – or woman, for that matter – can live by clubbing alone, and there will be quite a few hours to fill before the sun goes down and party people come out to play.

Fortunately, Dublin also has plenty to offer on cerebral level. There’s the National Museum of Ireland to explore, for example, as well as Trinity College, Dublin Castle, St Patrick’s Cathedral, and, of course, the Guinness Brewery, to name but a few.

A good way to take a look at these sights and many others is with a Dublin Bus Tour, which operate along a set circuit of the city every few minutes from 9.30am, and can be joined at any of 23 stops along the way, each conveniently located near one of Dublin’s most popular attractions.

The tour costs €15 for adults, €6 for kids aged 5-14 and €13 for students and pensioners. What’s more, tickets are valid for 24 hours, so you can hop off a bus at an attraction and then back on again for no extra charge.

It’s the perfect way to clear your head after a hard night’s partying – and set yourself up for another session to come!