It’s high time we did a GAFF round up of our favourite places to see and be seen (and Insta story and take decor inspiration from and eat and drink) on the chic island of Ireland. First up, we’re focusing on the big smoke, but worry not if you hail from or are visiting outside of the pale; we’ll be covering that too.
You don’t have to search far and wide for a good top-ten feature, but our focus here is not on the food or the cocktails or the brunch or the people, it’s PURELY on the interiors, because that’s what we do. As for our selection process? Any establishment that is GAFF worthy. There are countless beautiful and well designed cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels, but these are the ones that we would flock to quicker than a discount department store, where we can soak up the interiors inspiration and take a little piece of it home with us (and no, we’re not talking about stealing glasses, though some of these places have such beautiful stuff, you’ll want to). Below, we focus on Dublin-based bars and restaurants – or the places we ourselves would frequent for a nibble or a drink or both – but there is plenty more to come (including the bar at The Stella, Delahunt, Charlotte Quay; we’re only getting started).
Here’s what we love and why.
The Pot Bellied Pig; Rathmines, Dublin
For such a small space, the guys behind the decor of The Pot Bellied Pig nailed it. They make every corner work. It’s uber Instagrammable, the colour palette is to die for; lots of velvet millennial pink, beautiful green tiles – with lots of natural greenery which elevates the atmosphere out of this world – and brass details. We especially love the booths and the intimacy created in this D6 brunch spot.
Wilde, The Westbury, Dublin
This is a forrest/emerald green haven (and the food’s incredible too but as we said, decor decor decor!). We were lucky enough to have our photos taken here a few months back and had the place to ourselves for a wee while. It’s so perfectly laid out and like The Pot Bellied Pig, it’s not exactly a massive space but the cosiness is played up to perfection. Not only does it have a stunning view over Grafton Street, it’s a luxe, calming oasis with plenty of attention to detail.
The Alex, Dublin
This is one of the capital’s newest hotels and like everything else on this list, they’ve KILLED it. A mid-century modern feast for the eyes, they have combined our favourite shade of pink with teal banqueting and beautiful burgundy bucket seating. We love the abundance of colour here; you’ll also find lots of that gorgeous green and plenty of bright flowers to make it pop. Minimalist wall prints and subtle tiling patterns complete the look and quite frankly, we’re jealous that we can’t live here 24/7.
Balfe’s, The Westbury, Dublin
Also at the Westbury, you’ll find Balfe’s. The decor makes the almost-5-euro that a cup of tea will cost you worth it. This moves away from the pink and green we’ve been lusting after thus far and brings it right back to basics with one of the chicest bars we’ve ever had the pleasure of sipping a glass of bubbly at. What we love about the bar at Balfe’s is the simplicity and timelessness of it; nothing here is so trendy that it will feel outdated in a short time. From the marble bar to the monochrome styling, the plain white subway tiles and the splashes of red in their stunning wall art, this bar will surely be at the top of most Dublin fans’ lists.
The Drury Buildings, Drury Street, Dublin
The Drury Buildings will always have our heart for its New York-meets-Scandinavia style vibe. It’s very simple but warm and inviting, thanks to their warm wooden chairs (which are Danish), the parquet flooring and the teal paint that covers their walls. We also adore the elements of chartreuse – or maybe you’d describe it as a limey colour – that are carried through in their soft furnishings. It’s the ultimate colour combination. The vintage style leather bar stools are stunning and again, we see the subway style tiles with black grouting. There’s a 70s vibe to this place that we can’t get enough of.
Nightmarket, Ranelagh Dublin 6
This Thai eatery draws quite the crowd for its outstanding food (seriously, check it out) but for us, it’s all about the decor of their recently renovated first floor. Maybe that’s because we designed it ourselves but isn’t it gorgeous? We love the brown buttery leather banqueting that wraps around it, the midnight blue paint and the stunning fireplace that creates the ultimate homely atmosphere. Our goal here was to keep things simple but modern.
The Jar, Dublin
This bar come best-hip-hop-dance-night-you’ll-ever-have joint is one of our top places for a boogie and a beverage and the decor makes it. Their courtyards are the real draw with plenty of exposed brick wall features and more foliage than you’d find in a park (okay maybe not). The diamond detailing on the brown leather banqueting and the navy seats come together for a chic Brooklyn vibe.
Nolita, Georges St, Dublin
Nolita must have been a challenge to design, primarily because it’s so big. How do you create an atmosphere in such a wide open space? Well, they’ve done it, embracing the high ceilings. The bars here are stunning, as are the rounded booths in which you will feel like you are hidden away somewhere super intimate (in a basement bar in Manhattan’s trendiest neighbourhoods). Their floor tiles are among our favourite on this list. We also adore their ‘Good Times’ decal in gold across their white subway tiles. If you’re noticing a trend here, it’s subway tiles FTW.
Bagots Hutton, Ormond Quay, Dublin
Bagots Hutton is incredibly chic but it’s very original. It knows that pink or brown leather would please the masses but it also craves a bit of individuality. You might think yellow banquet seating would be too much, but it works SO well against the exposed brick wall, with parquet flooring and vibrant blue and white tiling around the bar and continuing downstairs. What we really love about this restaurant, however, are the bathrooms. We’ve yet to come by as beautifully tiled a bathroom as theirs. We don’t have a pic of this so you’ll have to go in and suss it out for yourself.
As you enter this unassuming basement eatery, you’re taken back in time to 1950/60s Manhattan. The décor is simple, pared back, but ultra luxurious; if Mad Men’s Don Draper came around the corner with an Old Fashioned in hand, you wouldn’t be surprised, such is the authenticity of Luna. Sociable booths – with leather upholstery so buttery, you might want to eat that too – set the tone for this Italian restaurant, but as for what styling tips to take home? The geometric carpet. It’s bold but it works. If you opt for something similar, take a leaf out of Luna’s book and let this be your statement colour and pattern in the room. You won’t need much else.