THE CLARENCE, DUBLIN: THE FIRST CHOICE OF SOPHISTICATED INTERNATIONAL CLIENTÈLE Located in the Temple Bar district, Dublin’s answer to New York’s Soho and the Left Bank in Paris, The Clarence is both a symbol and catalyst of the city’s economic and cultural renaissance, a resurgence that has put Dublin back on the map as a destination for sophisticated travellers from the Continent and U.S. The Clarence is essentially the vision of two members of the rock group U2, Bono and The Edge, who purchased the hotel in 1992. The hotel re-opened in June 1996 after a 20-month restoration and refurbishment program. The Clarence was transformed from a traditional two star property into a personal idea of how a luxury hotel should be - intimate, unstuffy, contemporary, idiosyncratic and efficient with an emphasis on personal service. Built in 1852, The Clarence had previously been refurbished during the late Thirties in the Arts and Crafts style originating from when the hotel was first built. By the Seventies, while still retaining a sense of old world charm and dignity, it was past its prime. At the same time, the ranks of the original clientele, once drawn primarily from the clergy, judiciary and visitors from the provinces, were swelled by the artists, musicians, writers and designers who began to make the Temple Bar area their own. This easy confluence of old and new made the hotel one of the few places in Dublin where, whatever you looked like, you could sit down with your pint and engage in the fine Irish art of conversation. Among the regulars were two members of the rock group U2, Bono and The Edge, whose fond recollections of their youthful haunt led them to assemble a consortium of Irish investors and purchase the hotel in 1992 with a view to restoring it to its former glory. To realise their vision, the owners assembled a team of professionals from both Ireland and abroad. The Dublin firm of Costello Murray Beaumont was retained as architects. Keith Hobbs of London based United Designers was commissioned for the hotel’s interior design. The result of their collaboration, guided by the owners’ directive that the design respect the country’s quintessential Irish heritage and character, is an inventive and ironic interplay of opposites that contrasts the spartan with the sybaritic, the hip with the historical and the conventional with the innovative. The new design maintains the dignity and tone of the past, unifying old and new through the use of the finest natural materials - American white oak, Italian limestone, leather and velvet - and the highest quality of workmanship. Many of the property’s original features have been retained in the ground-floor public areas where wood panels and stone floors dominate the interior. In The Study, the tall bronze framed, arts-and-crafts style windows with original glass have been restored, as the oak panelling which was carefully matched with new sections to replace damaged areas. Moving from the ground floor to the upper floors, totally reconstructed behind the hotel’s original facade, The Clarence reveals its delightful secret, for the guest rooms are as exuberant as the public areas are restrained. Each of the hotel’s rooms and suites, no two of which are alike, is decorated in a palette of rich cardinal colours, inspired by ecclesiastical raiment: crimson, royal blue, amethyst, gold and chocolate. The sumptuous colours are carried through in dyed-to-match cotton velvet drapes, carpets, leather chairs and upholstered headboards. The rich colour scheme is played off against the simplicity of the Shaker-style oak furniture and crisp white linens to create accommodations that are comfortable and refined. Every item of the furnishings has been custom-designed by United Designers and crafted primarily by Irish artisans, including the wrought-iron bedside lamps inset with hand-rolled stained glass, the elegant nickel-plated desk lamps and the candle sconces with coloured-glass diffusers. During the refurbishment, an entire floor was added to the hotel’s original four storeys to allow construction of a spectacular duplex penthouse and several suites. In addition to two master bedroom suites with their own baths, the penthouse features a living room, a dining room, a full kitchen and a full-length upstairs loft complete with private bar, a baby grand piano and an outdoor hot tub on the rooftop terrace - all offering superb views of the River Liffey and the Dublin skyline. The Clarence’s ever-popular Octagon Bar represents a microcosm of the New Dublin - international business executives, hip young professionals, fashion designers, film stars and supermodels - a crowd as likely to be sipping martinis as knocking back a pint. The Clarence’s critically acclaimed Tea Room restaurant is situated on the ground floor in what was originally the ballroom, an impressive space with a soaring 20-foot coved ceiling. Natural materials and meticulous detailing help to create a pure, uncluttered atmosphere that harmonises with the inherent simplicity of The Clarence’s interiors. As our General Manager explains, “A hotel like The Clarence is inevitably a personal vision, and for the owners, The Clarence is where they would choose to stay when visiting Dublin - a hotel that is at once simple but elegant, unpretentious but luxurious, that is modern but also embodies the best of traditional Irish hospitality”.