Travel: 24-Hour Room Service - The Clarence, Dublin

GEORGIAN SQUARES, elegant arcades, quaint winding lanes: Dublin is extraordinarily picturesque. However, the Clarence is located on none of the above. In fact, when you approach it, the hotel looks unpromising, on a dusty, busy road, beside an unphotogenic stretch of the river Liffey. The building is austere by any standards and, when you go into reception, the wood panelling gives things a boarding-school feel. But once you're checked in, check out the beautiful design details that the new owners created in 1996 and let a warm glow settle over you.

The bedrooms are peaceful and perfect for a weekend bolthole, but it's in the communal rooms that the Clarence shines. The Octagon Bar is ideal for that first Guinness, the Study for a fireside reading session. The oddly named Tea Room is a cavernous restaurant, but after the wine's started flowing and fantastic huge portions of hearty Irish food has been consumed, it suddenly feels quite cosy.

The Clarence manages that tricky combination, calm and cool, and it would be impossible to talk about the hotel without mentioning one of its owners, Bono of U2. The Clarence has true rock'n'roll credentials, and the penthouse suite is ideal for recovering superstars, with a piano, a rooftop Jacuzzi, cream suede sofas and an awesome bed. The staff are fantastically discreet so no, they won't tell you everyone famous who's stayed there, but anyone with taste probably has.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

The Clarence is at 6-8 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2, Ireland (tel: 00 353 1670 9000, fax: 353 1670 7800)

Transport: Dublin is mostly walkable, and the Clarence is well placed for the sights. If you're infirm or can't be bothered to walk, taxis are a better bet than the (very crowded) buses.

Time to airport: About 40 minutes, and there are plenty of taxis available.

ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?

An haute couture version of a padded cell, the rooms are plain and simple, with cream walls and heavy curtains. The ecclesiastical theme is pushed with deep crimson furnishings and monk's-cell-like lights. The sinning's up to you. And, the penthouse suite is possibly the grooviest in Europe.

Beds: Deep and crisp and even, with lots of fluffy pillows, perfect for lazing in until at least midday. Very unmonastic.

Freebies: All the usual luxury unguents in the bathroom, with those cute towelling slippers that surely are meant to be taken home (the idea of recycling them is too, well, unhygienic).

Temperature: As you like, and unlike its New York "design" equivalents, in this hotel you can open the windows (some give on to tiny balconies).

Bathroom: The bathroom has his'n'hers basins and a very flattering mirror. Relax in the bath or get blasted by the power-shower instead.

KEEPING IN TOUCH

TV: Yes, and it has the full range of channels you never watch at home but suddenly find compelling in a hotel (CNN, Discovery...).

Radio: Yes, but if you're in the penthouse, a state-of-the-art hi-fi system awaits, with a hip selection of CDs.

Phone/fax/Internet: Hey, politicians hold press conferences on the roof. It's safe to say they are well equipped, technowise.

THE BOTTOM LINE

A "superior" (ie standard) room is Irpounds 180 (pounds 151) per night; a two-bedroomed suite is Irpounds 550 (pounds 462). The penthouse suite is Irpounds 1,450 (pounds 1,218), but a small pop combo could fit in it. Full Irish breakfast is Irpounds 14 (pounds 12) per person, and you'll be too full to eat for several hours after that. Dinner for two with wine in the Tea Room costs about Irpounds 60 (pounds 50).

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