Dublin has recently become a bit of a home base for us with Zach's job and we've recently made our second (super short!) visit to the city. While each and every visit to Dublin will be another step in the direction of making this city our own, my discovery of Merrion Hotel's Art Tea has been one of my favorite discoveries whilst traveling yet!
First thing's first, the hotel itself is a unique work of art in and of itself. Four 18th century homes located in the heart of Dublin were incorporated in to this modern hotel. The walls are solid, soft hues to accentuate the hotel's fine art collection, in fact, there's only one room with wallpaper - and that room hangs only mirrors! The interiors are a combination of Irish and English furniture with some French and Italian accents here and there. It is a composition of various eras and history.
The Merrion Hotel's Art Tea exceeded all expectations. I'm not sure exactly what Zach or I were thinking as we entered the beautiful hotel located between Merrion Square and St. Stephen's Green. Was this to be a short and sweet high tea? Or a knock-out dining experience that you never want to end??
We were met with a glass of champagne and brought to our table that was situated next to a roaring fireplace. The dining room was adorned, by all angles, with unique and exceptional artwork. Interesting fact, the hotel's art collection represents forty different Irish artists, making the collection 90% Irish. Shortly after we were seated, we were presented with a booklet to guide us through our tea as an index of artists that are part of the collection, as well as three small cards that displayed different paintings as per the chef's pick for the Art Tea's inspiration that day.
The Merrion Art Tea is inspired by the heart of the art collection, which as mentioned before is mainly Irish. As a traditional high tea entails, we started with savory tea sandwiches, scones, and cakes. The cakes were inspired by artist Sean Scully. Zach and I enjoyed the Irish Malt Black Tea for round one which came highly recommended by the hotel; the tea boasts flavors of Irish whiskey and cacao with a blend of malty Assam. It was delicious and a perfect pairing to our tea sandwiches, scones, and cakes!
We didn't think anything could be better than the savory smoked salmon, loin of ham, sunflower bread, hints of mint and paprika, and perfectly baked scones with lemon curd, but then the deserts arrived. Merrion Hotel presented us with three deserts inspired by three paintings within the hotel's art collection; and to say the deserts were artwork themselves is an understatement.
Shut Eye with Acolyte (Praxis) by John Boyd
Roses and Temple by Patrick Hennessy
Farm Buildings by Stephen McKenna
Our first desert was pistachio and white chocolate mouse with fine-lines of chocolate inspired by John Boyd's Shut Eye with Acolyte (Praxis). Though born in Carlisle, Boyd now resides in Carlow, Ireland, his artwork is theatrical, where the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred. Roses and Temple from artist Patrick Hennessy, born 1915 in Ireland, inspired our second desert; with bursting flavors of rosewater and oranges, the desert was fully adorned with white chocolate. The final desert inspired by Farm Buildings by Stephen McKenna, born in 1939 in London but now lives in Donegal, was a lovely hazelnut gateau with hints of coffee boasting geometric lines and muted-lilac hues, leaving you with a sense of timeless familiarity and mystery.
We were blown away by the artwork and the abstract strokes and colors that defined each painting. With artwork like this, you never want to take your eyes away. The chef's take on the paintings' brush-strokes, vibrant or more subtle hues, and subjects were refined and definitive. I'd like to mention that this has been one of the most beautifully executed dining experiences we have ever ventured on, to date.
If you’re headed to Dublin, I urge you to book a reservation and block off a few hours to enjoy this culture-trip to Merrion Hotel. Our afternoon was the perfect pick-me-up to a busy few days of work in Dublin. I felt like I was part of another time, entering another world. We left feeling happy and full, and slightly giddy over being surrounded by such beauty and treated like a princess and prince for an entire afternoon! A whirlwind of beauty, Merrion's Art Tea left me day-dreaming for days!
While we, of course, have lots of Dublin to explore in the near future, we wanted to make note of this afternoon activity immediately, so that you can start planning! We've included an entire highlight on our Instagram of the full soirée, so if you're a tea or art lover like I am head on over to our IG and see the full experience!