Gone are the days when visits to Ireland involved staying in tired old Dublin hotels and noshing on late night pub grub. Today, your Irish golf excursions can include luxurious accommodations and fine restaurants as you soak in Dublin’s vibrant cityscape. If you travel with a discerning group who likes to mix in a spot of golf with great food and fine hotels, Dublin deserves a look.
In the last several decades, Dublin has survived everything from The Troubles to a devastating financial crisis, and it has reinvented itself time and again. Today, it’s widely recognized as a cultural hub in Europe. Tech companies like LinkedIn, Google, and Twitter have made their homes in the renovated “Silicon Docks” waterfront neighborhood – followed by an army of well-educated city dwellers hungry for great food, drink, and accommodations. Dublin’s old-school legacy hotels have ditched their stodgy décor and Downton Abby stuffiness and are once again grand hotels with a crisp, clean look and feel. And Dublin’s dining scene has never been hotter, boasting a dozen Michelin starred restaurants with mouth-watering creations for your palate.
Oh, and the golf. The greater Dublin area is home to more excellent courses than you can play in a single trip. Based on my dozen or so visits for golf, gastronomy, and Guinness, I have made it easy for you to plan a luxury golf trip to the Emerald Isle, and they are all very much LuxeGetaways approved.
Where to Play Golf in Dublin
To truly enjoy all that Dublin City has to offer, you will likely be limited to three or four rounds of golf in a trip. Here are my top picks for getting your golf on in Dublin. All have ranked in the Top 100 Golf Courses in the World at some point, so you won’t be disappointed.
The K Club
Located just outside Dublin in County Kildare, The K Club is steeped in history. Home to the 2006 Ryder Cup and 13 European Opens, The K Club boasts two Arnold Palmer designs – The Ryder Cup Course and the Smurfit Course. While the Ryder Cup course is a true parkland track, the Smurfit course in more akin to an “inland links” design. Given the long Irish summer days and the rare availability of golf carts, playing them back-to-back is an easy decision.
Portmarnock Golf Club
Founded in 1894, “Portmarnock Old” meanders along the Velvet Strand, a beautiful piece of Irish coastland. (The Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links are a separate independent facility next door.) It’s a classic links course that once served as the private golf course of John Jameson – the whiskey baron of Dublin. Portmarnock Old is as natural as it gets – winding along the peninsula with formidable bunker complexes and penal patches of gorse if your tee shot strays off the fairway. A mere 25 minutes from Dublin’s City Centre, it’s a must play while you are in Dublin.
The Island Golf Club
This is a real gem. A beautiful links track surrounded by the Irish Sea, its rugged beauty demands you pause for golf selfies on several holes. Massive dunes erupt from the fairway rough requiring shots that split the fairway. The greens are diabolical and demand a delicate touch to avoid three (or four) putts. You’ll find the locals to be friendly to a fault and happy to share the Club’s storied history over a pint after your round.
Luxury Hotel Options in Dublin
The Shelbourne Dublin
Now a Marriott Renaissance property, the Shelbourne is arguably Dublin’s Grand Dame of historic hotels. This property exudes elegance and its lobby sitting area will take you back a century or so to more genteel times. The professional staff is always a step away, but never intrusive. You will find it an easy stroll to Grafton Street for shopping and to Trinity College for look at the Book of Kells.
The Fitzwilliam Hotel
Designed by renowned architect Sir Terrace Conran, The Fitzwilliam overlooks St. Stephens Green and is perfect for people watching. Its décor offers a contemporary twist on ancient Irish charm and character. It’s comfortable and chic at the same time, and its location at City Centre makes it easy to enjoy Dublin’s main sites.
The Clarence Hotel
Originally nicknamed “Dublin’s rock and roll hotel” due to its ownership by members of the popular band U2, The Clarence offers a modern, contemporary alternative to Dublin’s more traditional accommodations. The location in the Temple Bar District offers the more adventurous traveler a convenient way to experience Dublin after hours. And a cocktail at the Octagon Bar might afford you a glimpse of owners and occasional visitors Bono and The Edge.
Restaurants Worth a Visit
Dublin’s dining scene has never been hotter. You’ll find influences from all over the globe, offering discerning diners a wide array of palate pleasing experiences. Our top three all consistently maintain a Michelin star or two.
Built on the site of two old Georgian Coach houses, L’Ecrevain’s local chef Derry Clarke marries locally sourced Irish ingredients with a distinct modern flair. Its décor is comfortable, tasteful, and warm. Make sure you leave room for the sweets menu – you won’t be disappointed.
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud
If it’s a truly elegant dining experience you’re after, RPG is the place. The contemporary Irish cuisine with classic French roots is a perineal favorite for gastronomes in Dublin. Their claim as Ireland’s most award-winning restaurant is reason enough to make reservations early.
If you’re after a more understated but equally delicious dining experience, look no further than Chapter One. Housed in the former basement of the Jameson family’s estate, Chapter One works hard to present great Irish traditions of comfort food, but prepares them delicately and deliciously. And take time to admire the impressive artwork throughout the restaurant before or after you dine.
Oh, and the Guinness? It’s readily available at all the above-mentioned venues. It is creamy, delicious, and won’t taste the same anywhere else in the world as it does at its birthplace. While you are in Dublin, it’s imperative you raise a glass of the dark stuff and proclaim “Sláinte!” the Gaelic equivalent to “Here’s to your health!”
So, there you have it. World-class golf, luxury accommodations, and fabulous cuisine all come together in fine Irish style to create a truly memorable experience.