“Art does not reproduce what we see,” artist and Bauhaus teacher Paul Klee once said. “It makes us see.”
Seeing a quote like that on a hotel website usually made me roll my eyes. With Arthaus Hotel, however – a new boutique stay behind Dublin’s Stephen’s Green shopping center – I’ll make an exception.
The hotel opted for a concept inspired by Bauhaus, the hugely influential school of art, design, and architecture based in Germany from 1919 to 1933. The movement was all about clean lines and geometric shapes. He sought to reconnect art with functionality and everyday life, and you could see his influence in everything from New York’s Seagram Building to prints by Orla Kiely or the beautiful square chairs in your Pinterest feed.
Approaching a night at this former Travelodge, I’m not sure what to expect. Artistic victory or marketing mischief? But the eye-catching artwork I see on the wall in the restaurant, painted on the elevator doors or hung above the reception, however, looks quite appropriate. Hotels are functional, after all. But design can elevate them to another level.
Arrival & location
Arthaus Hotel is a cozy and ultra-central small stay. It opened during the pandemic where Bow Lane meets Mercer Street, and I time it a three-minute walk from the top of Grafton Street and Stephen’s Green. Although Mercer Street itself isn’t very welcoming, it does represent a changing side of Dublin – another relatively new arrival, the 300-bed Marlin, is just across the road.
The exterior of the hotel is unremarkable (you would almost pass it without noticing), but the Bauhaus accord resonates as soon as I walk through the door.
As I look up to examine a swirling mural on the ceiling, General Manager Seán O’Keefe organizes a friendly check-in, issuing room key cards and tipping Saba or Pink on nearby South William Street as places to eat. It’s a small reception, with stairs and lifts to the left, and a bar and restaurant to the right. 7/10
Service & styling
As well as bathing in the Bauhaus, the hotel’s look and feel is female-led, with interiors by Yvonne Clarke of Clarke & Whiteman, and iconic artwork by Fran Halpin and Deirdre McClorey which pay particular homage to two now iconic Irish artists who were contemporaries of the Bauhaus, Mainie Jellett and Mary Swanzy.
In some places (elevator doors for example), I find that the paint jumps, but is ultimately a bit innocuous. At others it feels genuinely fresh and engaging (McClorey’s St Stephen’s Green is a dramatic collage that spans the length of a restaurant wall and is made up of discarded objects like plastic bags and construction waste of the hotel).
Around 100 works of art are spread throughout the rooms, hallways and public areas, also ranging from fun to forgettable.
However, don’t expect an artistic immersion comparable to The Merrion or Kelly’s Resort in Rosslare. The theme here is more like The Hendrick, a street art-themed hotel in Smithfield, or the rock and pop art memorabilia at the Hard Rock Hotel, both also operated by Tifco in Dublin. It also reminds me of Press Up group hotels like the Devlin and the Dean, brought to life with playful new Irish art. 7/10
Forty-one rooms are compact in size and range from boutique (15-18 m²) to superior (20-23 m²) and executive (21-25 m²), with prices increasing accordingly.
We stayed in an Executive, with bold blues and geometric shapes running through headboards and upholstery (others feature light corals or earthy greens). Details like walnut cabinets elevate things and the beds are good. Ironically, as a travel writer, I rarely sleep well in hotels. I did it here.
The bathroom had a generous shower and I liked seeing large dispensers of products from the Irish company FieldDay instead of single-use bottles. On the downside, the street views are limited and drab, the desk a little slim, and while there are compostable cups, the coffee machine is flanked by a pet peeve – UHT milk cartons. 7/10
Service at breakfast is charming and warm, but the spread itself is underwhelming – a very basic continental-style buffet set up in a corner next to the bar. Generic paper signs like “white and brown bread” and “brown flakes” sit in front of the items, warding off any trace of provenance.
The a la carte short menu is better, with options like a full Irish (€12), a chorizo hash (€7.50) or a French toast (€9.50) which sees lovely toast laid underneath drizzles of sweet maple syrup (above), but the bacon is hard and hard to cut.
And that’s all. You’ll find a short cocktail menu (€8.95 to €12) and friendly service at Laszlo’s (the bar and restaurant are named after a Bauhaus teacher), plus a private space for events, but currently no lunch or dinner offers. It’s because of the staffing issues affecting reception across the country, I’m told. Dublin is full of dining options, but hopefully one can expand here. 4/10
The bottom line
“What we’re trying to do is create a hotel that’s a little more unique,” David O’Connell of Tifco tells me. “It’s not just a room. There is a story behind it.
I admire that. I admire anyone who puts more thought into hotel design and community outreach. Creativity involves more energy and expense than throwing generic blocks, but it makes hotels so much more memorable.
Arthaus has made an effort, feels inclusive, and while I don’t think it’s as layered or polished as similarly committed new openings like Wren Urban Nest or Zanzibar Locke, there’s a lot of potential… if he chooses to pursue it.
If you book directly on the hotel’s website, you can benefit from a €10 discount per night (use the code DIRECT10).
Hang Tough Contemporary’s Páipéar Group Exhibition of Works on Paper is on at Central Plaza, Dame Street through August 28.
Single room rates from €199 this fall in a boutique queen room. Parking at nearby Q-Park is extra. Pól was a hotel guest. arthausdublin.ie