First Look: Inside the Shelbourne Hotel's €40m makeover, from a new 'snug' to the Lord Mayor's Lounge

As it approaches the end of a €40 million refurbishment, Dublin’s storied Shelbourne Hotel is to join Marriott’s luxury Autograph Collection.

The news comes as the doyen of Dublin hotels celebrates its 195th year in the city, having first opened its doors in 1824.

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“This Grand Dame keeps improving with age,” says General Manager, JP Kavanagh, hailing the final phase of a refurb underway for several years.

“The Shelbourne is looking better than ever.”

So what does the €40 million makeover entail?

As these exclusive new photos show, a redesign led by Guy Oliver of London firm Oliver Laws has reached almost every part of the hotel.

In recent years, visitors will have noticed the famed exterior receive a facelift (restoring all windows and repointing some 99,480 bricks), along with upgrades to the hotel’s suites, rooms and grand staircase.

Those comfortable with a €7,500-a-night price tag may also have seen an overhauled Princess Grace Suite, described as the hotel’s “best room”.

Last month, the five-star re-opened its Lord Mayor’s lounge – a Dublin institution for afternoon tea – along with revamped reception and lobby areas.

Lobby works include a restored 19th century chandelier, a red jasper and ivory checkerboard floor and clearer views of the mezzanine.

A rebooted reception area places a concierge desk straight opposite guests, where the small museum used to be, while adding a glazed ceiling and re-marbled desk.

The 1824 Bar (below) is a cosy, opulent space offering a hand-picked list of whiskeys. Described as “a new chapter in the hotel’s history”, the top-shelf only bar is tucked away at the top of the grand staircase.

“If The Shelbourne itself had a snug, this might just be it,” design notes say.

Opening from 5pm in the evening, 1824 has a strict no reservations policy and will be accessible to the public from June 6th, it says.

Breaking off this high-end “snug” is an unexpected terrace, described as “a relaxed little plaza where a view of the sky blurs the edge between indoors and out.”

Design highlights include cast-iron columns salvaged from a 19th century railway station, yacht umbrellas, a bespoke fireplace and ‘Marley Chairs’ inspired by a design used at Café Marley at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The Terrace will serve a trio of Irish sharing platters from 12pm–7pm daily (May – September). It also opens to the public from June 6.

Along with the design upgrades, the hotel is introducing some new menu experiences, including a Lobster Thermidor in No. 27 Bar & Lounge, a dish based on an original Shelbourne menu from 1929, and a Beef Wellington carved tableside in The Saddle Room.

Sommelier Nisea Doddy has also created a new ‘Sparklers’ Menu for No. 27 Bar & Lounge… a curated list of bubbles ranging from cava to crémant.

Voted Ireland’s Favourite Hotel in our Reader Travel Awards 2019, The Shelbourne is today owned by US property in vestment group Kennedy Wilson.

It continues to be managed by Marriott International however, whose Autograph Collection it now joins – an international portfolio of over 170 independent hotels.

As well as Princess Grace, famous guests at The Shelbourne have included Michelle Obama and her daughters, Charlie Chaplin, JFK, The Rolling Stones and Peter O’Toole… famously said to have bathed in Champagne during his stay.

The Chieftains formed in the Horseshoe bar, while in 1922 the Irish constitution was drawn up under the chairmanship of Michael Collins in Room 112.

Room rates start from €299 B&B per night.

Shelbourne: Timeline

1824: The hotel opens after Martin Burke leases 27, 28 and 29 Stephen’s Green for £300 a year. In 1825, it becomes the first hotel in Dublin to be lit by gaslight.

1922: The Irish Constitution is drafted in Room 112 under the chairmanship of Michael Collins. Today, the space is known as ‘The Constitution Room’.

1958: John and Jackie Kennedy stay. Celebrity guests have also included Princess Grace and Peter O’Toole (famously reported to have taken a champagne bath).

2014: The Shelbourne is acquired by US property investment group Kennedy Wilson, but continues to be managed by Marriott International.

2019: This April, the five-star concludes a multi-million euro refurbishment process as Irish Independent readers name it Ireland’s Favourite Hotel.

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