by Ron Bernthal
I arrived in Dublin after driving through fog, sleet and snow on the motorway from Galway. The 252-room gibson hotel (spelled lower case in hotel marketing materials and website) is located on the north bank of the River Liffey, east of downtown, in the revitalized Docklands area, and the warm glow of lights within the hotel’s glass-cube façade was a welcome sight on a darkening winter afternoon. The expansive lobby is located on the third floor, accessed by an exterior glass elevator from street level. The property was lightly filled on a Sunday night, and the friendly young woman at the front desk immediately upgraded my room, provided information about the hotel’s underground parking garage, and informed me that, although the hotel was unusually quiet, the bar and restaurant was of course open for business until midnight.
My one-bedroom suite was located on the 5th floor, and one of the more dramatic amenities of the space was the large, landscaped terrace, accessed by bedroom and living room doors, that covered part of the 4th floor roof along the entire side of my hotel floor, providing a long, shared terrace with about ten other guest rooms on my floor. With wicker chairs and teak benches, wood planters with embedded, low-level lighting, a few potted trees, and a meandering walking path, it reminded me of New York City’s new High Line elevated park. If it had been summer, I would have enjoyed sitting outside, with views of the river and the Dublin skyline.
Room furnishings were earth-toned, modern, and designer-driven. Flat-screen TVs were in both living room and bedroom; a work desk had plenty of outlets and a silver metal desk lamp. Wall switches controlled the motorized wood blinds and drapes that hung over the floor-to-ceiling windows. A large, white tiled bathroom, with tub, glass shower stall, heated towel racks, and two round porcelain sinks, was spotlessly clean. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the property.
My room, like the rest of the hotel, was filled with artwork. Prints by Irish artists Tom Moore and Charles Cullen; framed photographs by Stuart Smyth; oil paintings on linen by Richard Gorman. A collection of art, travel, and photography books sat on a low shelf in the living room. It was easy to get comfortable in the exquisitely trendy, yet unpretentious, environment.
As a midweek corporate meeting venue for European firms, as well as local companies based in Dublin’s new International Financial Services Centre, the hotel offers nine dedicated conference rooms overlooking Dublin Port; a 300-seat theatre; an 875-space underground parking garage; and a fully equipped fitness center. A “relaxation” area is also available to guests, and includes a steam room, sauna, foot baths, and two Japanese copper baths situated on an outdoor terrace overlooking the city.
I enjoyed the spacious Coda bistro restaurant, with its two-story ceiling height, soaring wine rack, and eclectic artwork. Coda serves as the breakfast venue for hotel guests, also offering a nice selection of lunch and dinner items, including a tasty variety of dim sum dishes. The gibson’s hemidemisemiquaver bar is 30-feet long (which is not the reason for the lengthy name, see below), and the adjoining outdoor terrace, heated in winter, overlooks the O2 arena and outdoor concerts in Point Village Square.
The hotel is within the revitalized Docklands district, a stunning urban renewal project that includes the Kevin Roche-designed Convention Centre Dublin; the post-modern Daniel Libeskind-designed Grand Canal Theatre; and Santiago Calatrava’s graceful Samuel Beckett Bridge. The spectacular looking, curvilinear-shaped, Aviva soccer and rugby stadium is also within walking distance to the hotel, and was designed by the architectural firms Populous, and the Dublin-based Scott Tallon Walker, the same company that designed the gibson.
Since opening in mid-2010, the €80 million hotel has hosted the celebrity rock groups, singers, and dancers performing at O2, and a musical theme is woven into the hotel’s public spaces. Some of the hotel staff I talked with suggested that the property itself was named after the famous guitar company. Photographs by rock photographer Ken Regan, and Pattie Boyd, the former wife of George Harrison and Eric Clapton, are unobtrusively placed in public areas, as are Gered Mankowitz’s paintings of Jimi Hendrix. The name of the restaurant (Coda), and the bar (hemidemisemiquaver) are musical terms, and both fill up early, and late, when weekend concerts are scheduled at O2.
The integration of music and entertainment celebrities into the gibson’s vibe is not all hype. The gibson was the official guest hotel for the 2011 Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA), held at the nearby Convention Centre Dublin (CCD). The hotel, and much of the new Docklands building projects that surround the property, including the O2 arena, was developed by Irish entrepreneur Harry Crosbie, Crosbie had established a theatre on the O2 site 20 years ago, and the Irish band U2 was one of the first groups to play there. Bono and the band, as well as dozens of other top groups and music producers, have remained close friends with Crosbie for decades.
I found the staff helpful and friendly, and the hotel’s location, within the design-savvy Docklands district, was convenient for my meetings. It was also easy access other areas of Dublin using the modern and frequent Luas light rail tram, which stops close to the hotel’s front door. For guests arriving or departing from Dublin Airport, it is only 10-15 minutes by taxi via the nearby Port Tunnel, which opened in 2007. The Gibson Hotel is a Summit member of Preferred Hotel Group.
the gibson hotel
East Wall Road
Dublin 1, Ireland
© Ron Bernthal – No editorial content, portions of articles, or photographs from this site may be used in any print, broadcast, or Web-based format without written permission from the author or Web site developer.