An Ad­dress to James Joyce

But the au­thor, or his pal Leopold, wouldn’t know this fancy place

Irish Daily Mail - - Travel - BY CIARÁN KENNEDY

‘An­tic­i­pated, there was not a sign of a Jehu ply­ing for hire any­where to be seen ex­cept for a four­wheeler, prob­a­bly en­gaged by some fel­lows inside on the spree, out­side the North Star Ho­tel and there was no symp­tom of its budg­ing a quar­ter of an inch when Mr Bloom, who was any­thing but a pro­fes­sional whistler, en­deav­oured to hail it by emit­ting some kind of a whis­tle, hold­ing his arms arched over his head, twice.’ James Joyce, Ulysses.

AS demon­strated by James Joyce, The North Star Ho­tel is some­thing of a Dublin in­sti­tu­tion. Lo­cated just ten min­utes from O’Con­nell Street in the heart of Dublin city cen­tre, it’s hard to imag­ine that not long be­fore its con­struc­tion in the mid-19th cen­tury, the Amiens Street area where the ho­tel stills stands had in fact been ru­ral, and con­sid­ered out­side the city it­self. How times change. The pur­pose of our own visit to the four-star lo­ca­tion is sim­ply to en­joy a night out, and so we hop on a Luas which leaves us out­side the bustling Ir­ish Fi­nan­i­cal Ser­vices Cen­tre, just a short five-minute walk from the ho­tel, lo­cated across the road from Con­nolly Sta­tion, which re­mained a pound for stray horses for sev­eral decades af­ter the North Star Ho­tel first opened its doors.

We check in and are swiftly brought to our room, lo­cated in the ho­tel’s lat­est lux­ury ad­di­tion, The Ad­dress at Dublin 1 – think of it as a ho­tel within a ho­tel.

Guests stay­ing in the Ad­dress are given spe­cial ac­cess cards to en­ter a small bou­tique ho­tel con­tained within the walls of the North Star.

Here, Brian and Ciara McGet­ti­gan of the Ir­ish fam­ily-owned McGet­ti­gan Ho­tel Group have in­stalled more than 80 state-ofthe-art, high-end rooms at a cost of roughly €15mil­lion, with in­room tech­nol­ogy they claim has not yet been seen in any other Dublin ho­tel.

Now, the mind can wan­der at the thought of what this spe­cial ‘in-room’ tech­nol­ogy might be, but the ac­tual ex­pe­ri­ence is far more prac­ti­cal than talk­ing ap­pli­ances or fid­gety gad­gets.

In­stead, the tech­nol­ogy in­stalled is sim­ply there to make life that lit­tle bit eas­ier – surely the main aim of any good ho­tel stay.

From the com­fort your bed, blinds can be opened and closed eas­ily by us­ing the small key­pad lo­cated above both bed­side ta­bles, which also con­trols tem­per­a­ture, en­ter­tain­ment, house­keep­ing and even in-room din­ing, while small lights along the floor click into ac­tion with the main lights off to en­sure tired heads can still find their way to the bath­room in the mid­dle of the night (or early in the morn­ing).

Af­ter get­ting up to scratch with our high-tech sur­round­ings it was then time to hop back in the lift and scale a few more floors to check out the Club Lounge, re­served ex­clu­sively for those stay­ing at the Ad­dress.

Here, guests can watch some tele­vi­sion or take a com­pli­men­tary news­pa­per while en­joy­ing a freshly made cof­fee, while there is also a bal­cony area that pro­vides great – and sur­pris­ingly quiet – views of the city, al­though we failed to find any sign of the sta­bles that once sat be­hind the ho­tel dur­ing Con­nolly’s Sta­tion’s for­mer life.

This had all made for thirsty work, so we de­cided it was time to head down­stairs and hit the bar, where we poured over more of the ho­tel’s his­tory with a cock­tail from McGet­ti­gan’s Cook­house and Bar.

We read about how the ho­tel first thrived as the city slowly re­cov­ered from the Famine, be­fore the open­ing of Con­nolly Sta­tion en­sured a stead flow of vis­i­tors who couldn’t ask for a more con­ve­nient lo­ca­tion to drop off their bags be­fore head­ing off to ex­plore the city, get set up for a busi­ness meet­ing or take the short trip up to Croke Park for match day.

Un­for­tu­nately, there’s no men­tion of the din­ner dances my own par­ents used to reg­u­larly at­tend here in the early Eight­ies – they must not have been quite as good as they in­sist.

With our new found knowl­edge of the greater Dublin 1 area, it’s time for din­ner, and we’re soon seated in a large, open room housed within stone walls com­plete with trick­ling wa­ter fea­ture.

For those stop­ping in for a quick bite, there are also plenty of seat­ing op­tions in the bar area and the more com­fort­able lounge area hid­den in the back, com­plete with its own small bar.

It is worth men­tion­ing that the menus on of­fer in McGet­ti­gan’s seem to cater for all tastes, with sal­ads, burg­ers, grills op­tions and seafood all up for con­sid­er­a­tion be­fore we make our choices with the help our very friendly, and pa­tient, wait­ress – spicy chicken wings, steak and cheese­cake for me (well, half a cheese­cake, the steak was huge), and teriyaki chicken wings, Ca­jun pizza and creme brûlée (all of it, some­how) for Her.

Fully fed, we de­cide to ven­ture back up­stairs and en­joy the com­fort of the large re­clin­ers in the Club Lounge bal­cony with another cock­tail, be­fore re­tir­ing for the night.

The next morn­ing, we are of­fered a choice of break­fast op­tions, with a stan­dard break­fast buf­fet op­tion avail­able in the North Star along with a con­ti­nen­tal op­tion back in the Club Lounge.

We opt for the lat­ter, and make use of the bal­cony for a fi­nal time with cof­fee and crois­sants be­fore check­ing out and head­ing home.

Over­all, the Ad­dress seems to be a fan­tas­tic, af­ford­able lux­ury op­tion for any­thing from busi­ness trips to week­end breaks.

Will I be back again? To re­visit Mr Joyce and Ulysses…

‘Yes I said yes I will yes.’

Take it as red: Our Ciarán is wined and dined Seat of learn­ing: Echoes of James Joyce

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