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Hotel Review: Radisson Blu St. Helen’s, Dublin

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Ireland was my last hurrah with the Club Carlson program, which is now dead to me.

After leaving the Radisson Blu in Limerick and kissing the Blarney Stone, we drove into the city of Cork, and then looped back up to Dublin to stay our final night at the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s in Dublin.

Arrival and check-in

The hotel is located in an area that is rez. ee. dent. shul. OK?

That means that traffic is terrible at rush hours, because people are going to or from work.

It’s about 3 miles (~Whatever kilometers) from Dublin proper, but there is free parking in a huge lot right in front of the hotel. For late night escapades, you can easily get a taxi to the city center and back.

The reason I chose this location was because:

  • It was a new property for me
  • It was near the M1 which goes right to the airport
  • The property looked gorgeous

Because I had an early-ish flight back to Boston on Aer Lingus, I wanted to hop right on the highway and get outta there.

I knew the traffic would be bad, and I budgeted time for that, but wow. It was really bad. We were stuck on the same 3-block stretch for over 20 minutes.

Anyway, arrival and check-in.

We parked in the rain after a lovely day in Cork, and walked in.

You’re instantly transported to some other era, where opulent mansions still exist.

Upon opening the door to the Radisson Blu St. Helen's

Upon opening the door to the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s

Indeed, this property is a 1700s estate converted into a hotel. And it is lovely.

The desk agents checked us in within a few minutes and told us how to climb through a maze and get to our room.

Hallways of the Radisson Blu St. Helen's

Hallways of the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s

Again, no upgrade to a business class room, but we figured we’d eat in the lounge at DUB and then again on the flight over. So whatever. Ireland was 50/50 with the upgrades for Gold status elites in the Club Carlson program (through the US Bank Club Carlson Visa Signature which is now deep in a sock drawer and will never be used again).

The room

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Trip Report: Aer Lingus NEW Business Class DUB-BOS

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Happy to continue my Ireland series after the good news that the country is moving to legalize gay marriage. I saw the signs up everywhere when I was there to “Vote Yes” or “Vote No” and it seems that they’ve collectively decided to lead the 21st Century. Congratulations to Ireland!

If you’re interested in the new Aer Lingus business class product, you’ll want to also read my review of the BOS-DUB flight.

The key difference is that BOS-DUB is a red-eye whereas DUB-BOS is a daytime/lunch flight.

After an amazing flight over, I was excited to see how the finer points of service would differ during the day flight.

Flight details:

  • Aer Lingus Flight 137
  • May 5th, 2015
  • Depart: 11:50am
  • Arrive: 1:45pm
  • Duration: Duration: 6H, 46M
  • Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
  • Distance: 2,983 mi

First impressions

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My experience renting a car in Ireland (Woof!)

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Thinking about renting a car in Ireland?

Woof:
verb: to declare something bad, ugly, terrible, or nasty.
interjection: use as an expletive to express disgust or surprise.
Can be a replacement for damn that sucks!

Upon landing at DUB, I knew the next step was to go pick up the rental car.

So here’s how I did it (made the booking not picked up the car).

The booking

I ran a quick search on the Chase Ultimate Rewards website – they generally have fantastic rates on rental cars. That’s how I got such a good deal in Hawaii. Keep in mind that they ONLY service airport locations and you MUST pick up and return to the same location.

They quoted me at ~$325 for a 6-day rental. Not bad.

But when I hopped on kayak.com to compare and they had rentals pricing out at 9 Euros per day. And 85 Euros for the 6-day rental (~$97). Now that was a screaming deal. I booked a car at Dollar via priceline.com.

renting a car in ireland

My Kayak to Priceline to Dollar car rental booking – 85 Euros

My only criteria were:

  • 4-door (for ease of getting luggage in and out)
  • Automatic transmission
  • Unlimited kilometers (I wanted to drive a lot)

So, I did it. I thought I’d gotten a better deal than what the Chase Ultimate Rewards site was displaying.

Now that I’m back safe and sound, I’m not so sure any more.

Pickup

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Special Guest Review: Exploring Ireland’s Radisson Properties

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My partner Jay wrote an article about our hotel stays at the Radissons of Ireland. I’m still working on full reviews of all the properties – they’ll be posted soon.

I thought it might be nice to read a different viewpoint and hear a new voice. Jay recently opened the US Bank Club Carlson Visa Signature card (pre-devaluation) and is still getting the hang of this points and miles business. So our trip to Ireland trip really was a last hurrah with Club Carlson – for both of us.

Ireland is Club Carlson HEAVEN, by the way. They have hotels in every major Irish city (see map below). It’s really too bad that not only are BOGO award nights going away, but categories are going up, AND the free night certificate they give after $10,000 in spend is only good in the United States.

Anyway, I’m also working a few new articles for the What to Do series. I’d definitely welcome other guest writers that would like to share their viewpoints about the best places to stay, where to eat, and how to get to your neck of the woods. Feel free to email if you’re interested – I’d love to learn about new places!

Without further ado, take it away, Jay!


We stayed at almost 50% of the Radissons in Ireland (4 out of 9)!

Our Radisson/Club Carlson Circuit

In order, we stayed at:

  1. Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Dublin
  2. Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa Galway
  3. Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa Limerick
  4. Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel Dublin

That’s a lot of Radisson!

Blu Royal, Dublin

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Hotel Review: Radisson Blu Royal, Dublin

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Getting there and checking in

After flying into DUB and picking up the rental car at the airport, we drove down into the City Centre of Dublin (you can take the N1 the entire way there).

With a little huge amount of help from Google Maps, I navigated my way toward the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Dublin. There is a small parking facility attached to the hotel with a discounted rate of 10 Euros per night – which is a steal to park for 24 hours – so I parked there and went to check in.

The check-in could not have been any better. Francois, the desk agent, was so kind, welcoming, knowledgable, and professional (he’s the French one – his words!). He recommended a few good places in the area and we chatted a bit about Dublin. After a few minutes, we were all set with an upgraded Business Class room that included free breakfast. Sweet!

Check-in area at the Radisson Royal Blu Dublin

Check-in area at the Radisson Royal Blu Dublin

Restaurant on the ground floor

Restaurant on the ground floor

Lobby seating

Lobby seating

The hotel bar where they serve O'Haras stout beer - yum!

The hotel bar where they serve O’Haras stout beer – yum! (Sorry about the blur!)

The property is beautiful. It’s clean, bright, and airy inside with lots of really nice touches. Definitely one of the nicer Radisson hotels I’ve stayed in.

The room

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Trip Report: Aer Lingus NEW Business Class BOS-DUB

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After staying at the Hyatt Regency in Boston, and hanging around in Bean Town for the better part of the day, we headed to the airport around 6pm for the 9pm flight. Check-in and security went quickly, and after only about 20 minutes, we were in the Aer Lingus Gold Circle Lounge in Terminal E waiting to board. After enjoying the small lounge for a short while, we boarded around 8:20pm.

First impressions

There’s something so great about experiencing a brand new product. Aer Lingus recently refreshed their business class cabins (late April, according to the booklet at the seat).

We were assigned to seats 3D and 3G, both aisle seats in the middle of the cabin. I had 3G.

First impressions were… WOW. It looks so fresh. The cabin is done up in shades of gray with splashes of emerald and lime green, which is gives it a very distinct, chic look. They made sure to put their clover branding all over everything – it was done well and added cohesion. It looked and felt very modern, and I was positively giddy to have this flight experience.

The plane was an Airbus 330-300 and right away, I started to feel a little more Irish.

It was a dark overnight flight, so forgive the graininess of some of the photos below!

The seat

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Booking Dublin: Hotels

The Delta attack on United hubs elicited my first post written in utter excitement with little no editing.

After I booked the Dublin trip, I realized there were more pieces that had to fall into place, and thought it would be a good opportunity to document my trip-planning process.

The trip is IAD-ATL-DUB, and back the same way. I’m in New York, so I am anticipating:

  • Booking hotel rooms for six nights
  • Probably renting a car
  • Getting myself down to Washington, DC from NYC
  • Using my American Express Platinum Card to get into Delta and/or Priority Pass lounges in IAD and ATL (and DUB on the way back)
  • And of course, being in Ireland for the first time

Hotel options

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Just booked: IAD-ATL-DUB-ATL-IAD in May for $223 R/T A/I!

Per the Flight Deal, fares to Dublin (and several other destinations), Delta is aggressively attacking fares to United hubs.

How aggressive?

Base fares are pricing at $1 OR LESS. You are only paying the taxes and fuel surcharges!

IAD-ATL-DUB is pricing out at $323 for several days in early May and it’s still available. I got in on this and can’t wait to go (although not thrilled that it’s on Delta – I credited to Alaska for the first time).

Screenshot 2015-01-05 22.44.48

$1 base fare!

Screenshot 2015-01-05 22.43.53

I will earn ~4,500 Alaska miles by crediting to Mileage Plan even with the V fare bucket. You’d earn just 1,105 with SkyMiles

In addition to all of this, I had a $100 egift certificate I bought with my American Express Platinum back in the day and never used, which brought my total down to $223 round-trip and all-in. I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland, and at just over $200, I couldn’t say no!

If you want to get in on this, I’d recommend booking ASAP. I’m usually not one for breaking news, but I’m super excited about going to Ireland and wanted to share in case anyone else would like to go. Lots of other cities/countries/continents/airlines are included in this sale so play around get yourself a great deal – especially to a place you’ve always wanted to go!

Be sure to look at the Flight Deal links above and play with dates into and out of the hubs. A list of airline hubs is here and the best place to check out flights is the ITA Matrix.

Good luck and godspeed!