Each month our resident business travel expert Mark Frary writes the Heathrow Express travel guide to a major city. This month: Dublin
Business travel buzz
After several years of enforced austerity because of its bailout, the Irish economy is roaring back into life and people are talking about the Celtic tiger once more; the country is expected to top the GDP growth chart in the Eurozone this year.
In the past two decades Dublin has become a haven for multinational IT companies thanks to its generous tax breaks and Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter all have major European operations here, clustered around the city's "Silicon Docks" quarter, where business rents are going through the roof. The city is also establishing itself as a centre for clean tech, spearheaded by The Green Way programme.
Image: Aerial view of the river Liffey, Dublinn © David Soanes
Tourism is a huge draw to the city. It attracted 3.9 million visitors in 2013 and the figure is growing by almost 9% a year.
March is a busy time in Dublin's calendar. The International Film Festival takes over the city for ten days. The Facilities Management Ireland trade fair and the Energy Show are also in town this month, along with the half a million revellers who will be celebrating St Patrick's Day mid-month.
Dublin is the third busiest route out of Heathrow after New York JFK and Dubai and more than 1.5 million people pass through the airport on the way to the Irish capital.
Aer Lingus has 11 services throughout the day, operating from Heathrow's Terminal 2. British Airways operates between four and eight services every day from Terminal 5.
Dublin Airport is 10km north of the city centre. It has no direct rail link but there are regular bus services, including the Airlink, which runs every 15 minutes and takes 30-40 minutes to the city centre (€6 single). Taxis to the centre cost around €20 to €25.
The Book of Kells, a fabulously decorated manuscript in Trinity College's Library, is well worth a visit in between meetings. The lavish book is believed to have been written and illustrated around 800AD. A visit takes less than an hour and costs €11.50.
Image: Book of Kells © Tourism Ireland
If you have another hour to spare, a visit to the Guinness Storehouse is a great way to experience more recent Dublin. You learn about the process of making stout and porter and get to try a pint of the black stuff at the end of the tour in the Gravity Bar, which has stunning views of the city. Entrance fee is €18 including your pint.
Image: Guinness © Fáilte Ireland, Eleanor Keegan
The black book
The Marker is Dublin's slickest design-led hotel and its position overlooking the basin of the Grand Canal puts it in an ideal location for Dublin's tech quarter. The hotel has fast wi-fi, hi-tech rooms as well as luxurious touches, such as Malin + Goetz toiletries. Rooms start from €169 but a typical rate is nearer to €400. The Schoolhouse Hotel in Ballsbridge, which started life as the St Stephens Parochial School in the 19th century, has been well converted into a modern comfortable hotel with one of the classrooms converted into a restaurant. It is good value for Dublin, with rooms starting from around €80 if booked well in advance. Other good choices for the business traveller include the Radisson Blu, the Westbury and the Merrion. Business hotel rates in Dublin have edged up to an average of €123.50 as confidence returns to the Irish economy.
Image: Merrion Square © Fáilte Ireland, Matthew Thompson
F X Buckley has been a Dublin family butcher for six generations so opening a steakhouse makes perfect sense. The Crow Street steakhouse serves perfectly cooked rib-eye and more cuts in a buzzy atmosphere with impeccable service. Another great business lunch spot is Peploe's on St Stephen's Green. The setting is stylish thanks to white linen tablecloths and mural-filled walls while the wine list is as epic as the food. Dakota on William Street South is a great spot to check your email and grab a coffee; at night, it gets much livelier and serves awesome cocktails. For a pint, try the Porterhouse in Temple Bar for its famous oyster stout or the Dawson Lounge on Dawson Street, a wood-lined bar that can fit a maximum of 30 people - you'll make friends.
Image: Temple Bar © Dublin Regional Tourism Authority, Tony Pleavin
Keep up with the Dublin buzz from the city's influencers on social media:
- Dublin Diaries serves up hot slices of Dublin street life on Instagram
- The Journal's Christine Bohan is, in her words, a "journalist, webhead, Dubliner". She forgets "prolific Tweeter" but well worth a follow @ChristineBohan
- If you want great tips on Dublin's food scene, check out blogger Catherine Flynn's Girl Eats Dublin blog for detailed reviews and tasty food photos
- Dublin-born rugby legend Brian O'Driscoll has more than half a million followers on Twitter – and he tweets all kinds of unexpected stuff.
- If you're into your music and want to catch a gig while you're in Dublin, look no further than Niall Byrne's Nialler9 music blog particularly its comprehensive gig guide.
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