A Georgian grand dame just off St. Stephens Green in downtown Dublin, the Merrion has been around in one form or another since 1760, when it was a set of four stately homes owned by English nobility. Today, it is elegance incarnate. An excellent art collection—by the likes of Dublin-born Cubist artist Mainie Jellett and Irish post-impressionist painter Paul Henry—hangs in fire-warmed, chandelier-lit drawing rooms. Upstairs bedrooms have big sash windows overlooking the city's 1920s-era government buildings. The basement bar is moodily romantic with its arched stone ceilings and cave-like nooks built into the 18th-century wine vaults. Since opening in 1997, the Merrion has hosted Dublin’s most famous visitors: Bill Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, Rihanna, and Bruce Springsteen.
The formal, flower-filled courtyard is the perfect place for a sunny afternoon drink. If it’s raining, retreat to the green-walled Bar No. 23 for a snifter of Irish whiskey in a leather club chair.