Hotel Review: Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge, Dublin

If you’re visiting Dublin, Ireland, but don’t want to stay in the heart of the city, the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge is a perfect base for your visit.

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When I visited Dublin with my teenage sons recently, I didn’t want to stay in one of the busier districts like Temple Bar. It’s great if you want to enjoy Dublin’s lively bars late into the evening, but I wanted something a little quieter.

So the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge was a perfect choice for our visit to Dublin. It’s a four star hotel which sits in the leafy suburb of Ballsbridge.

The Ballsbridge district is an altogether quieter part of Dublin and plays host to several embassies. But the location means that you can still be back in the city centre within around 20 minutes.

The hotel is also close to the Aviva Stadium and the Three Arena. So it’s perfect if you’re visiting Dublin for a concert or event.

I received a discounted rate for our stay at the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge.

History of the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge

Although the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge itself has only been open for a few years, the building has a much longer and richer history.

In 1792, seven Irish Freemasons formed the Modest Society for the Schooling of the Orphan Female Children of Distressed Masons. This school moved into purpose built premises on the Merrion Road in Ballsbridge, Dublin in 1882. And it is this building which is now home to the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge.

You can see some masonic symbols present in the stained glass and distinctive red-brick architecture of the building. And a plaque bearing the date 1892 commemorates the centenary of the school’s foundation, which was celebrated with a large fayre in the grounds of the Royal Dublin Society.

Queen Victoria and her daughter Beatrice visited the school in 1900, while in 1916 it became a temporary barracks during the Easter Rising.

In 1972, the school sold the building to the Royal Dublin Society, and it was renamed Thomas Prior House. Over the years, it has been owned by various hotel groups, and in 2015 it became the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge.

Since then the hotel has been elevated from three-star to four-star status. And the extensive refurbishment in recent years has modernised the public areas and executive bedrooms.

But through all this, the hotel retains its distinctive character thanks to the eye-catching architecture from the late 19th century.

How to get to the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge

Dublin is very easy to get to, with several airlines flying direct to Dublin airport from airports across the UK. I use Skyscanner* to check the best prices and flight times.

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But flying to Dublin isn’t the only option. If you’re travelling from the UK, then why not consider taking the ferry across the Irish Sea.

It’s a slower but much more relaxed way to travel. And if you fancy taking a road trip around Ireland, then it’s the ideal way to get there.

Ferry companies which operate routes from the UK to Ireland include Irish Ferries, and Stena Line. I recently travelled to Ireland with Stena Line – more about that in a post very soon.

Once you’re in Ireland, the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge is very easy to get to.

If you’re taking a self-drive holiday in Ireland, then the drive from Dublin Port to the hotel takes around 25 minutes. You’ll go through one of Ireland’s toll barriers on the journey, so you will either need coins to go through the automatic barrier, or else you can pay by card at the manned booth.

Once at the hotel, you can park in their spacious underground car park. Hotel guests receive a reduced rate of 12 Euro per night, and a lift takes you up to Reception.

If you’re travelling from the airport or as a foot passenger on the ferry, you can take a taxi. But I try to avoid this wherever possible as I find taxis in Dublin can be quite expensive. A taxi to this hotel from the airport in 2015 cost me around 35 Euro.

The alternative is to use the public transport system. The Airlink Express 747 route runs from just outside the airport to O’Connell Street, costing 7 Euro for adults.

The 4, 7 and 7a buses all go from O’Connell Bridge to the Merrion Road stop just outside the hotel, with a single ticket costing around 2 Euro for adults. You’ll need change for the bus, as they don’t take cards or notes.

A Family Room at the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge

One of the reasons I chose the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge for our recent visit to Dublin is that they have family rooms in a variety of configurations.

It can be tricky to find a family room that isn’t set up as a double bed and single bed. This configuration is fine if you’re travelling as a couple with one child, but not ideal if you’re travelling with two teens or as a family of four.

When we stayed at this hotel a few years ago, we booked a family room with a double bed and large bunk beds. As I was travelling with Ollie and Lyle this time, a triple room would suit us better. Luckily, the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge can offer a triple room with either a double/single configuration or three singles.

Our room had dark wood furniture, neutral colours on the walls and carpet and rich red accents in the soft furnishings. It’s a classic, traditional decor and did look a little dated compared to the modern look in the public areas.

The executive bedrooms have recently been refurbished, and I’d be interested to see if this is rolled out to the rest of the rooms.

But I was very impressed with the amount of space in the room. Each bed was a generous size, and there was plenty of floor space around them. Even with two teens and all of our luggage, the room didn’t feel cramped at all.

The bed linen was crisp and smooth, and each bed had a plump comfortable pillow, with blankets in the wardrobe.

I prefer to sleep with two pillows, but there was just one on each bed. But that was no problem, I just called down to reception and they brought up an extra pillow very quickly.

There’s a dressing table which carries the hospitality tray, complete with hot drinks including tea from Bewley’s. After visiting their beautiful Art Deco cafe in Grafton Street, Lyle really enjoyed having a cup of Bewley’s tea back at the hotel!

The dressing table also holds a hair dryer, and there are plenty of mirrors in the room. That made it easier when we were all trying to get ready to leave the hotel in the morning.

The room’s TV was a little on the small side compared to other four-star hotels that I’ve stayed in. But there was a reasonable selection of channels, both Irish and from the UK.

And the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge provides free WiFI throughout the rooms and public areas. This was reliable and high speed, so the boys could go online and I could catch up with some work.

The compact bathroom had a simple design that looked fairly modern. Although as with the bedroom, it did look like it could do with a bit of a refresh to bring it in line with the stylish public areas of the hotel

The room had plenty of towels for us all, and I could easily have phoned down to reception if we wanted more. Complimentary toiletries were provided, and the shower over the bath was powerful. It was perfect for reviving me after a long day walking around the city.

There was nothing really wrong with the bathroom, it just didn’t quite fit with my idea of a four-star bathroom.

Take a look around the hotel

I’ve mentioned a few times now that the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge has recently undergone some refurbishment. So let’s take a look around the rest of the hotel.

Whether you enter the hotel through its dramatic front entrance, or take the lift up from the car-park, you’ll be impressed by the hotel’s reception area.

Although the building has a distinctly historic feel to it, the design of the interior looks light, elegant and modern.

A glass ceiling filled with lights overlooks the stairs down to the Grandstand bar, flooding this area with natural light. I love the juxtaposition of the modern lines with the classic architecture outside.

This part of the hotel feels very light and airy, with neutral tones on the walls contrasting against pops of colour. It’s a perfect to meet up for a chat over coffee or plan your day ahead.

From here you move through to the Grandstand bar, a large open plan space with plenty of seating in varying styles.

This is the social hub of the hotel with a well stocked bar, as you’d expect for a four-star hotel in Dublin. The bar is popular with local clientele as well as hotel guests. It’s a great place to socialise, and three large screens dotted around the room show sport events as well.

But if you’re looking for a quieter place to enjoy the evening, you can also find quiet corners where you can chat in peace.

I love the eclectic decor in the Grandstand bar. The neutral tones are carried through from the first part of the space, but bright tones of blue, orange and copper warm the colour scheme. They give the room a vibrant feel.

The Grandstand bar is one of the options for dining at the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge. It’s ideal if you don’t fancy heading into town for food.

Food and Drink at the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge

Our stay at the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge was on a room-only basis. But on our first night, we decided to eat in the Grandstand bar.

Of course, Dublin has masses of different options for eating out, with cuisines from all around the world as well as traditional Irish food.

But after we settled into our room, we decided that we didn’t feel like heading into town after a long day of travel.

So the Grandstand bar felt like the ideal place to start our visit to Dublin. The bar is open from lunchtime through til 1am on Monday-Saturday, and until midnight on Sundays. They serve food from 4pm-10pm in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

The menu includes light bites for a smaller meal, as well as bigger plates that would be perfect for dinner. Prices range from 6-15 Euro for light bites, and 15-20 Euro for the bigger plates.

The light bites menu includes options like Chicken Caesar Salad, Louisiana Chicken Wings with Cashel Blue cheese mousse, and an artisan board of Irish cheeses, deli meats and other delicious bits and pieces. But we all decided to order from the bigger plates.

Lyle loves a good burger, and he really enjoyed his Piri-Piri turkey burger. The burger was topped with cheese and Ballymaloe relish, and Lyle said that it was juicy and full of flavour.

I can confirm that the skinny fries served alongside were tasty as well!

Other options on the menu included an Irish sirloin steak, and slow cooked beef ribs cooked with Guinness and maple syrup.

Ollie opted for one of the fish dishes on the menu. These included a Seafood Chowder as well as beer-battered haddock and chips.

He decided to try the Salmon and Hake roulade, which was wrapped in Parma Ham and served with baby roast potatoes. It looked delicious, and Ollie really enjoyed it.

The menu didn’t have too many vegetarian options on the menu, something which I found quite often during this visit to Dublin.

I didn’t want a salad and had pasta earlier on in the day. So I didn’t really fancy the Spinach and Ricotta ravioli, and also decided to opt for fish. Luckily the Chef’s Special of the Day was this salmon topped with goat’s cheese and spinach.

I also ordered a side of mashed potato, but my salmon arrived sitting on a bed of the same creamy mash. The fish was well cooked, not dry, and the topping was delicious. And that mashed potato was really really good. To be honest, I could happily have just eaten a big dish full of it!

We were all too full for pudding after our main courses. But the menu included options like warm Apple Tart, Coconut Panna Cotta and a selection of Irish cheeses.

Instead, we just enjoyed another drink in the bar, which I was happy to discover serves an alcohol-free beer.

If you prefer a more formal option for dinner, the Grandstand restaurant may be what you’re looking for. The menu here includes delicious sounding seasonal and local dishes such as Slow-Confit smoked pork belly served with Clonakilty black pudding, and sous-vide chicken fillet served with risotto and a Madeira Truffle Jus.

They also serve vegetarian and vegan options, like homemade open ravioli of aubergine caviar, caramelized onions, and chestnut mushroom purée.

You can also have breakfast in the Grandstand restaurant, which includes the Clayton Vitality breakfast. You can enjoy the hot breakfast buffet as well as granola pots, smoothie shots and a choice of fruit juices.

Or if you just fancy grabbing something to go, the Red Bean Roastery is open from breakfast time until mid-afternoon. They serve barista style coffee alongside a range of pastries, salads and cakes.

Things to do near the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge

Of course if you’re visiting Dublin, you probably already have plenty of things that you want to do. And the location of the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge is perfect for your Dublin break.

The city has masses of things to see and do, from fascinating museums to historical monuments. And of course you’ll want to experience the famous craic as well!

I’ll be sharing some of my suggestions for things to do in Dublin very soon

You can easily get the bus into the city centre. The 4, 7 and 7a buses leave from directly outside the front of the hotel and will take you as far as O’Connell Street. Or alternatively you could take the DART into town from the Sandymount station. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel.

The hotel is also close to the Aviva Stadium and the Three Arena. This makes it perfect if you’re visiting Dublin for a concert or event.

And the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge is the perfect starting point for day trips from Dublin.

The Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge, Dublin: My Review

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge, it provided the perfect base for our visit to Dublin.

The out-of-town location is perfect if you’re not looking to stay in the heart of the action. But it’s still really easy to access the city centre for sightseeing or events.

I loved the modern look of the public areas, and the Grandstand Bar was the perfect place for us to round off a long day in the city.

While the decor in our room didn’t exactly match up to the look and feel of the rest of the hotel, the room itself was incredibly comfortable. We all slept really well, and I loved the fact that I could choose a room with three single beds. It was perfect for travelling with my teenage sons.

I received a reduced rate for our room in return for this review. But the standard rate for a triple room on a room-only basis would usually be around 165 Euro per night. It’s worth checking the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge offers page to see what deals are available for your stay.

I’ve stayed at this hotel twice now, and would definitely consider staying at one of the other Clayton hotels across the UK and Ireland.

The Details:

Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge
Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, Ireland

+353 1 668 1111
www.claytonhotelballsbridge.com

Thank you to the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge for hosting us on our visit to Dublin!

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