1. Pig out at The Cake Café
Like all the best things in life Cake Café takes a little bit of searching for. Hidden down a non-descript laneway (parallel to Camden Street) called Pleasant’s Place, believe me, it’s worth seeking out. Inside the miniscule café there’s a smorgasbord of fresh cakes (carrot, chocolate, orange butter sponge, Guinness, apple and cinnamon, espresso and toasted walnut – you get the picture). If you don’t have a sweet tooth you could have a non-cake based lunch like a savoury tart and a glass of wine outside in the colourful, higgledy-piggledy courtyard. Extra bonus brownie points (see what I did there) to owner and food writer Michelle Darmody for committing to running a pro-recycling business with no horrible plastic forks and minimal waste.
2. Have brunch with a view at Sophie’s
The Dean Hotel is bang smack in the middle of Harcourt Street, just a few doors down from the notorious nightclub Coppers, but with an entirely different vibe. The Dean is ‘boutique’, exquisitely furnished with a mix of old meets new (think leather and tweed/neon signs) with a fashionable clientele to match. There are plenty eating and drinking options within, but the best is Sophie’s on the top floor. It’s a big open plan glasshouse/restaurant with a panoramic view of Dublin City. It’s busy, buzzy and does a cracking brunch so make sure you book.
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3. Stay out too late at The Workman’s Club
No one should go to bed early in Dublin, and The Workman’s Club is three floors of fun that’s worth staying up for. Since opening its doors in 2010, the Wellington Quay bar/nightclub/gig venue has hosted everyone from Anna Calvi and Future Islands to Father John Misty on its stages. Situated on the edge of Temple Bar (next to the raved about Clarence Hotel), it offers a much-needed alterative to the overpriced cocktails or diddly-i experience offered by its Temple Bar neighbours. Entry is always free and it’s open way past bedtime.
4. Go full on foodie at Fumablly
The word ‘fun’ doesn’t usually appear in close quarters with ethical and sustainable but this restaurant/coffee shop/venue is all three. Delicious food, great coffee and lots of interesting events (fermentation workshop anyone?) to feed the mind and the mouth. Every in-the-know Dubliner raves about this place.
5. Get traditional at Mary’s
Look, there’s no shortage of great places to stop for a pint in Dublin, and if traditional is your thing the The Stag’s Head and The Long Haul are often mentioned but Mary’s Bar & Hardware Shop should be top of the list too. It’s a lovely mix of unpretentious old school cool, with regular trad sessions and decent pints.
6. Wig out at Peruke & Periwig
Minimal is not the word I’d use to describe former wig maker’s shop Peruke & Perwig. This tall, narrow, Georgian building is decked out with the most ornate wallpaper, portraits of stuffy looking legal types (in wigs), gold fringed lamps emitting little light, plush velvet furnishings and dark wood and marble tables – it’s all very dark and dimly lit, i.e. a good place to bring a date or to duck in out of the rain to have sneaky cocktail. Cocktails are something they take seriously. Order off the ‘Around the World in 80 Cocktails’ menu and it’s likely your drink will come with fanfare (and maybe even some dry ice and a blow torch). There’s a full brunch/lunch and dinner menu but no matter what you order be sure to try the crispy pickled red peppers. Beats a bowl of nuts anyday.
7. Stay in a penthouse or boathouse
Getting accommodation in Dublin used be a right pain. Everywhere decent was extortionate and anywhere reasonable was a crappy B&B in Finglas. Then came the Airbnb revolution (complete with taxation teething problems) offering up an unprecedented choice of accommodation to suit tourists on a shoestring and visitors with big budgets to blow alike. The joy of Airbnb (which requires a quick sign up and safety check before you can rent someone’s property) is that once you see the variety of places you could stay – from a feng shui city slicker penthouse to a ten bedroom country pile – you’ll never be able to settle for a windowless, soulless hotel room again. You can sort your options by price and location, or for the best value option, just take a room in a Dubliner’s flat or house rather than renting the whole property. Either way, it’ll feel like an adventure.
Register and book at hwww.airbnb.ie