Dec132014

Estate Life at Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin

The best hotel deal I found in Dublin was a Club Carlson Gold elite 2-for-1 weekend rate for Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin. Getting to the hotel from the airport was an easy €16 return ticket on an AirCoach bus. The AirCoach service from Dublin Airport will take you locally as far south as Dalkey and Killiney (U2 Bono’s hood), Greystones and Bray (County Wicklow) and even long distance to Cork or Belfast nonstop.

The main caveat about Radisson Blu St. Helen’s is its location, a few miles south of city center Dublin. If spending the day roaming about central Dublin is your plan, then you will likely prefer a hotel in a more central Dublin location. The bus or DART train takes about 30 to 60 minutes to reach the city center by the time you reach the bus stop or DART train station stops and wait for the next departure.

My plan was to hang out in South County Dublin, the area where Dubliners with money reside for the country village life on the southern coastal outskirts of Ireland’s Dublin metropolitan area. Radisson Blu St. Helen’s was a convenient location for day trips to Dun Laoghaire, Dalkey, Sorrento Point, Killiney Beach, and the Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk.

Loyalty Traveler – Dublin footsteps of Bono, Michael Collins and Oliver Hardy (Dec 1, 2014)

James Joyce slept here and Ulysses begins here in Sandycove, County Dublin (Dec 2, 2014)

Loyalty Traveler – Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk in County Wicklow Ireland (Dec 2, 2014)

Rad St helens-clear

Continuum by Linda Brunker is front garden fountain sculpture unveiled in 1998 when Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin opened.

Dublin is a large city of 550,000 residents and an urban area of 1.1 million which amounts to 25% of Ireland’s population. Laid back, small village Ireland is the aspect of the country I enjoy most as a tourist. Dublin is a bit intense in contrast to most of the country. Radisson Blu St. Helen’s was a laid back country estate kind of hotel. St. Helen’s seemed like the kind of hotel where people come for celebrations and weddings. Most guests appeared to be Irish and drove their own car to the hotel. St. Helen’s is the kind of place where the front desk staffer looked at my Club Carlson Visa card like it was the first one he had ever seen.

Hotel Review Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin

An Historic Estate

St. Helen’s is an historic estate house, originally mentioned in a 1754 land deed as Seamount, on the high road from Dublin to Wicklow. The name changed to St. Helen’s sometime in the 1840s.

Hugh Gough, 1st Viscount Gough, brought the estate into peerage ownership. Gough was an Ireland born British military commander who received a peerage for his military service as Commander–in-Chief during the First Opium War in China and military campaigns in India. High Gough died in the St. Helen’s house in 1869 at the age of 90.

George Gough, 2nd Viscount Gough, occupied the house until his death in 1895. His son sold St. Helen’s to Sir John Nutting and much of the appearance of St. Helen’s today comes from home improvements made at that time.

Sir John Nutting died in 1918 and the house was auctioned off and purchased by the Christian Brothers who used the estate as their headquarters. The Irish Christian Brothers are a Catholic religious order founded in Waterford, Ireland with the purpose of teaching disadvantaged youth. They opened their first school in Waterford in 1802.

Estate land around the hotel was sold off during the 20th century to build houses and schools. The St. Helen’s house was listed as a National Monument in 1994. Plans were devised to preserve the house through conversion into a hotel. Radisson Blu St. Helen’s opened in 1998.

Rad Blu St Helens wing

Rdisson Blu hotel rooms are located in attached wing to historic St. Helen’s house, an Ireland National Monument.

Radisson Blu St. Helen’s four story hotel wing attached to the historic estate house is where hotel rooms are located.

DSC_0009

St. Helen’s entrance gate from Stillorgan Road pedestrian path.

One hotel restaurant and bar are located in the atrium on the right for all day dining and an Italian fine dining evening restaurant is located on the left.

First Impressions

The walk from Stillorgan Road to Radisson Blu St. Helen’s in the dark night of late November made my 5:30pm arrival seem like midnight in the country. The gravel path from the bus stop is about 200 meters from the hotel. The direct route is not the way to walk if you have heavy luggage with wheels. There is road access to the right. I carried my 22 pound suitcase over the gravel path directly to the hotel.

St. Helens night

Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin decorated in late November holiday lights.

The white exterior of the hotel is Portland Stone, a white stone quarried from the Isle of Portland, Dorset. The stone was used for construction of St. Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace in London and the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The entrance to the hotel reveals an interior of Italian Carrera marble. The Tuscany quarried marble is from the same area where the marble came from for Michelangelo’s David.

St Helens entrance

Radisson Blu St. Helen’s entry hall foyer.

First impression of the inside was impressive.

St Helens Reception

Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin Reception off entry hall. Real fireplace fires were burning in several rooms.

Reception check-in was easy and I was off to my room located on the same level as the reception.

St Helens Bed

Radisson St. Helen’s Dublin standard room with a view.

The Radisson Blu St. Helen’s room seemed extra spacious after the rooms in London. The actual square footage of the narrow room was not much larger than Radisson Blu Mercer Street London, but the layout was more functional.

The 8 or 9 ft high ceilings helped. A couch, cushioned chair and desk chair provided several seating options.

St. Helens narrow room

Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin room is narrow, but high ceilings and seating for four made the room feel large.

The fruit bowl was unexpected and welcome for a quick pick-me-up of strawberries and grapes.

St. Helens desk

Radisson Blu St. Helen’s room desk, tv, coffee maker and mini-bar.

The room does not look too special in the photos, but I felt so relaxed here at Radisson Blu St. Helen’s. I have never lived in a large city. My comfort zone is life in places where I can easily find solitude. Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin is country life. The view of the St. Helen’s terraced gardens was a Jane Austen vision.

Room view

Garden view from room.

I stayed at Radisson Blu St. Helen’s for three nights, but I never ate  a meal at the hotel. It was not a money issue. Prices looked reasonable for Dublin. After nearly two weeks in Ireland and London, I had gotten into the routine of grocery shopping. The stocked electronic mini-bar in my room with one space in the bottom left corner for one personal item held my groceries and beer, but there were about €20 in automatic mini-bar charges I had to get deducted from the bill. My stealth touch in the room was absent as I kept knocking items over in my version of mini-bar pick up stix.

St Helens main room

Radisson Blu St. Helen’s main room off reception room.

Most guests at the hotel were in suits and gowns on a festive Saturday night when I arrived. Loads of children were playing in the halls as some kind of family gathering was happening.

St Helens atrium

Atrium room for dining and bar at Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin.

Breakfast in the atrium is dining with a view of the 19th century landscape design of terraced gardens.

St Helens bar

Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin bar in atrium.

After having spent the previous week in Radisson Blu Edwardian hotels in London, the mansion style ambience of Radisson Blu St. Helen’s offered a slower pace country experience to the big city hustle.

St Helens back garden

View of backside terraced gardens at Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin.

The terraced gardens are lighted at night for enjoyable solitude in shadows.

St Helens room window

Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin four floor hotel wing extends from front to back on north side of the historic St. Helen’s house.

Radisson Blu St. Helen’s hotel wing flanking back gardens shows my 2nd floor hotel room curtain slightly open. Apparently, you can see the sea about 1 kilometer away from top floor balconies.

Rad St Helens back

Back of St. Helen’s historic house with doors to the entry hall foyer.

The top floors are Club Carlson Business Class suites with patio balcony. My room booking was made October 18, 2014 for a 2-night stay November 29 and 30 using Club Carlson Gold elite 2-for-1 rate. The hotel was €120 EUR for Saturday night and €107 for Sunday night. 2-for-1 means I paid only first night at €120 EUR with Sunday night free. Radisson Blu St. Helen’s is a place that is more expensive on weekends when the hotel does not have a business conference. Club Carlson 2-for-1 rates are especially valuable in places where Sunday night sees higher rates.

NOR1 eStandby Upgrade

Club Carlson uses the NOR1 eStandby Upgrade technology, used by several major hotel chains, to upsell your room reservation at time of booking. I made a reservation for two nights for €120 EUR at Radisson Blu St. Helen’s. Immediately after submitting my credit card guarantee for the hotel reservation, the website offered an eStandby upgrade opportunity.

St Helens NOR1 e-Upgrade

eStandby Upgrade offers after first reservation for Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin.

  • Room Service Breakfast €17 EUR (great deal for two guests at $21)
  • Business Class Suite 51 sqm. €33 EUR (double size of my room for extra $42 per night and includes breakfast buffet)
  • Business Class Suite with balcony 51 sqm. €46 EUR (double size of my room for extra $58 per night and includes breakfast buffet).

My room rate was only $75 per night, so these upgrades were good deals.

I needed an additional night in Dublin and the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s was priced at €111 EUR ($139 USD) for the additional night at time I originally booked my 2-for-1 stay. On my second night at the hotel, when searching rates for a Dublin hotel third night, I saw the rate dropped at St. Helen’s to €76.30 ($95 USD). I booked the lower rate and stayed a third night in Booterstown.

Nor1 eStandby Upgrade offers

st helens estandby-2

eStandby Upgrade offers after second reservation for Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin.

The offer was dinner at Talavera Restaurant, drink and movie for €22 or the Business Class suite upgrades.

Radisson Blu St. Helen’s has a small fitness center on the ground floor and there was a Snooker room, locked when I checked.

Dublin Public Transportation

Two notes on transportation and area around hotel. The area around the hotel and village of Booterstown is relatively affluent. There is nothing much along Stillorgan Road for a mile, except University of Dublin about 15 minutes walk to the north. The bus to Dublin runs along Stillorgan Road, about 200 meters in front of the hotel.

Booterstown is the village when walking one kilometer to the coast with a DART station, Dublin Area Rapid Transit. DART will take you north into Dublin City Center and farther to Howth or Malahide or south to Dun Laoghaire (sea ferry port to England), Dalkey-Killiney (U2 Bono’s place), and Bray-Greystones in County Wicklow. I enjoyed the train rides into Dalkey, Bray and Greystones far more than bus rides into central Dublin. The cost for a train or bus was similar.

Booterstown DART wildlife

Booterstown Nature Reserve sign at the DART station. Blackrock, the next village to the south had more aesthetic charm than Booterstown. Villages get more upscale as you head south to Dalkey on DART train.

Booterstown has Gleeson’s for a pub, restaurant and small food store if you want to walk somewhere from the hotel in less than ten minutes.

Gleeson's

Gleeson’s Booterstown is closest alternative food to hotel. About ten minutes walk. The trick is learning the walking route since many roads in the neighborhood dead-end.

Two nights at Radisson Blu St. Helen’s = €120 EUR or about $150.00 USD + 3% foreign exchange fee (Forex) for using Club Carlson Visa. All in all, I spent €255.30 EUR for five hotel nights at Radisson Blu hotels in Ireland with two nights at Radisson Blu Athlone and three nights at Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin.

  • $320 USD with about $285 in eligible hotel spend earned an extra 10 points/$1 paying with my Club Carlson Visa.
  • 2,850 points for $10 in exchange fees is a reasonable trade-off considering the value I get with Club Carlson points in Europe.
  • $289 in spend at 57 points/$1 for me during Club Carlson double points (40 points/$1), Club Carlson Gold elite as a benefit of Club Carlson Visa (7 points/$1) and Club Carlson Visa payment of Radisson Blu charges (10 points/$1) earned 16,473 points.
  • Radisson Blu hotels in London at 25,000 points per night offer $200+ in hotel redemption value. I stayed five nights in hotels in Ireland for $320, an average room rate of $64 per night after tax, and earned my way to 66% of points needed for another free hotel night in London.
St Helen's Stillorgan

St. Helen’s gate on Stillorgan Road where the bus stops are located. Hotel is 200 meters from the road.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. When redeeming points for two for one nights in Asia, I have always ignored the standby upgrade offers and, so far, have received complimentary upgrades as a gold elite member (due solely to the credit card) each stay. Have no experience with ClubC in Europe, yet.

    What are my complimentary upgrade chances in Ireland, based on your experiences? I am actually considering this hotel, along with “Blu”s in central Dublin and Belfast.

    Thanks for sharing, especially the enjoyable, informative details of the surrounding area (in this and earlier posts). And, thanks in advance for addressing this question.

Comments are closed.