Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Fashion Tourism in Dublin: The Trending Package at the Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin

Two of my great loves in life are food and fashion and anything that combines the two is usually good by me, so when I was invited to try out the Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin's new "Trending" package, I was stoked. The package includes a stay in one of the hotel's stunning signature rooms, afternoon tea, a fashion podcast walking tour of Dublin and breakfast on the morning of departure, all for two people, from €299 per night.

While I wasn't able to stay overnight, I did try out the rest of the package over the past weekend and was given a quick tour of the rooms before I left. First of all, The Fitzwilliam is definitely one of the prettiest and best located hotels in the city. Its interiors were designed by Sir. Terence Conran and are contemporary and cool while remaining plush, warm and welcoming. The hotel is also perfectly situated at the top of Grafton Street, the main shopping street of the city, and across from St Stephen's Green park, offering both the perks of city life, just an easy amble away, and greenery, fresh air and pretty views. For fashion lovers, it is ideally located for shopping as it is around the corner from St Stephen's Green Shopping centre, a beautiful and historic mall that was the first purposefully built space of its kind in the city; Grafton Street; Irish fashion institutions like luxury retailer Brown Thomas and Kilkenny on Nassau Street, one of the largest emporiums for Irish designed apparel and homewares, who are offering a 10% discount and personal shopper experience to all Fitzwilliam customers; the iconic George's Arcade; the stunning Powerscourt Town Centre; countless boutiques; and the burgeoning "fashion quarter" of Dublin.

If you are interested in fashion and are thinking of visiting Dublin or have an interest in Irish design, in particular, this package is the perfect introduction. It is a new fashion tourism option for visitors to Dublin and gives an insight to native fashion and design and helps savvy shoppers discover the unique delights of the city beyond the high street names that can be found everywhere else around the world. If you are looking for something a little more authentic, this is just the thing for you.

The main attraction of this package is the city itself but the afternoon tea comes a close second. I mentioned this on Instagram already, but it was probably the best afternoon tea I've ever had and, due to my mother's passion for the practice, I can say that with some authority and a lot of experience.

The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful, well-informed about all aspects of the meal and engaging and pleasant, in general. As they knew I was there as press, I do think I probably got an especially kind welcome but I noticed that other customers were getting similar levels of attention, as well. However, I never felt anyone was hovering or intruding and this is a fine balance that I know, from personal experience, is hard to manage.

Another impressive aspect was the tea we were served. There was a nice little range of options of decent, fragrant loose leaf teas, none of those nonsense "fancy" tea bags that masquerade as real tea.

The food followed not too long after we were served our tea and everything was succinctly explained and pointed out. It was a real step up from the usual fare of sandwiches and lackluster cakes and comprised of items such as miniature smoked salmon crème fraiche caviar blinis; tuna tartar and avocado sesame cones; asparagus and parma ham and egg mousse; mini scones with clotted cream and raspberry jam; a selection of macaroons; choux buns with peanut salted caramel ganache, rhubarb jelly with white chocolate mousse and chocolate and peanut cups, among other delights. This was all then followed with a choice of the Cucumber Cup or the Nutella Martini cocktail. The meal featured a lot of fish dishes and, despite my not being a big seafood lover, I ate and really enjoyed almost all of it, which says a lot about the quality of the food. In fact, it was the first time I've ever had afternoon tea where we've left nothing uneaten.

After a leisurely two hours of eating, we quickly peeped in at the rooms, which are bright and airy but cosy and have great views, before heading off on the tour. The afternoon tea had left us sleepy but once fresh air hit my face, I was full, energised and ready to do the fashion tour. The tour is available as a podcast that anyone can download but the hotel helps guests through the steps and provides them with headphones. While the tour is really interesting and brought me to a couple places I hadn't been before, I'm not really the target audience as a local. I knew a lot about the history of the city, fashion, Irish designers and retailers in Dublin anyway but, for those who have less of an intense interest in the area and preexisting knowledge or who were just getting to know the city, it would be a nice introduction. It throws in a little history, gives some directions and brings you to different spaces, stores and designers, allowing time for pauses to peruse as you go. However, I would warn you to bring a map unless you are familiar with the city, as the directions can be a little confusing at times and I would have been lost were I not so familiar with the city and stores. If you have the time, luxury and desire to get a little lost though, it's a perfect guide to shopping in the city and will introduce you to important names in Irish design, cute boutiques, historic retailers and much more besides.

I'd love to go back some time and do the whole package with my mother, as I can imagine how nice it would be to check in one day, grab afternoon tea, do the tour and shop along the way before heading back to one of those comfy rooms to put our feet up!

If you are a fashion lover and fan of Irish design thinking about visiting Dublin, this really is the ideal package.

















(I was invited to try out this package by the Fitzwilliam Hotel. I was not paid to write this post, however, and all opinions are my own.)


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