Where to stay:
I booked a 2-bedroom apartment at Trinity College. I was very happy with the choice. The campus is beautiful, dead center in the city, and there's a big wall around the place with security guards to protect you from happy drinkers in the middle of the night. The rooms were big, light and clean. Beds comfy, bathroom sufficient, kitchen included plates and silverware, refrigerator, coffee/tea, stove, microwave, even dish detergent. Lovely view of the ivy covered buildings from big windows. Housekeeping staff made beds and changed towels. Right on the doorstep of the Book of Kells. And Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker lived there, for goodness sake! The college kids working the front desk were friendly and helpful and competent (and there were lots of them so no lines). The college store has postcards and stamps. And a tour of the College is a must--great stories from clever students. The price was well below what we paid elsewhere in Europe--by maybe half. If you don't need cute paintings on the wall or a full bar in house, I recommend it highly. (One note: Don't buy the breakfast. Remember dorm food?)
Where to eat:
We had problems with the recommended restaurants in RS's guide. The Farm was "closed until further notice." The Eden Bar & Grill was closed permanently and a new restaurant opened in the same place. And many of the suggestions were just pubs, full of 20-somethings intent on ingesting as much alcohol as possible before the sun came up again. We also found that many of RS's recommended places were full up, even on weeknights.
We did have 4 good experiences:
- The Trocadero was so good we went back a second time. They are open late (catering to the theater crowd). We did not have or need a reservation. The owner welcomes guests personally. The waiters are old-school--attentive, careful, polite. The place is clean and pretty and comfortable. See how many actors you can name on the autographed headshots that circle the room. Full bar. The food was out of this world. We ate light the first night: starters and soup and salad. Then came back for a full dinner: rack of lamb and sirloin steak (2 meals with dessert and after dinner drinks, under 100 Euros total; not cheap, but worth it). And a correction to the RS guide: they are open on Sundays.
- We also enjoyed whiskey tasting at the Dingle Whiskey Bar. Great bartender, really knew her stuff.
- The Bank is a feast for the eyes. Efficient wait staff, excellent food, very noisy.
- There's also a Italian place near Trinity College, two blocks down Grafton St. on the corner. Can't remember the name--starts with a "C." Great food, great service.