Stylish, comfortable and modern, the Croke Park Hotel Dublin was everything we needed for our recent weekend in Dublin, to visit our son who is studying there. It’s also one of the few hotels near the Croke Park Stadium and we counted it as a big bonus that we were able to go to a Hurling match at the stadium to get a real taste of local Gaelic sports. Read on for our review of The Croke Park Hotel in Dublin and our dip into Irish sporting culture;
First impressions at Croke Park Hotel Dublin
On arrival from the airport we found a flat fronted modern building, set bang opposite the VIP entrance to the Croke Park stadium. On stepping inside, the first impression was of a light, airy space with a slightly Asian feel in the dark wood and red carpets, which were warm and welcoming as we stepped in out of the grey January day.
On either side were seating areas screened off from the door, allowing guests plenty of room to relax here, as well as in the bar and restaurant that’s set at the back of the hotel.
Our bedroom at Croke Park Hotel
We took the lift to the 4th floor and despite the fact that we’d arrived on an early flight, were happy to find that our room was ready for us. It was stylish and modern, picking up the red and green theme that is so often seen in Irish pubs who favour these strong, bold colours, although put together here with a little more finesse. The walls and curtains were neutral with a dark green suedette bedhead and the cherry velvet quilted throw so soft that I felt like wrapping myself up in a cocoon.
There was a pale wood fitted desk and open wardrobe space, with abstract artwork that was pleasant and undemanding. The window to one side looked out over the canal at the side of the hotel, across to houses and apartment blocks. There were all the amenities you’d hope for in a four star hotel that would make a business or leisure stay an effortless experience; ironing board, bottled water, a kettle to make tea and coffee. Full marks for a safe that was actually large enough to fit my laptop. The bathroom was clean and modern with white tiles and a selection of my favourite White Company toiletries that left me fragrant in a waft of jasmine, rose and neroli.
The Juicery – fresh pressed juices
As we checked into the Croke Park Hotel I mentioned how much I was looking forward to trying the fresh pressed juices, and later there was a knock at the door and I was thoughtfully offered a selection of the juices to try. I’ve been addicted to making my own fresh pressed juices ever since I watched one of those documentaries on Netflix about a man who was transformed from obese to skinny through drinking them. I find them incredibly energising, although I’m sadly not much slimmer. There was a mini-menu with 6 different blends to try and my favourite was the Mercer with mango, ginger carrot and apple as well as the Vine with celery, cucumber, apples, mint and avocado which was creamy yet refreshing. The blueberry coconut smoothie was my least favourite, with coconut oil that left something of a soapy taste.
Executive Lounge at the Croke Park Hotel
We were thrilled to find that our 4th floor room allowed us to use the Executive Lounge just along the corridor. After our early flight it was a peaceful haven where we could help ourselves to tea, coffee and fresh juices as well as cookies and small pastries that were laid out in the morning. As the hotel later got busy with the pre-match crowd, it was good to have this private space to retreat to.
Read More: 10 things we did on a weekend in Dublin
The Croke Park Hotel is in the northern fringes of Dublin in a residential area, although it’s only a 20 minute walk to the centre of town. The rectangular, flat fronted hotel building is right opposite the Croke Park Stadium which overshadows everything in the streets around. The nearby houses are a mixture of Georgian, Victorian and more modern houses, nothing fancy, all very normal. The benefits of this location are that it’s quiet, on the right side of town for the airport, perfect if you’re visiting Croke Park Stadium and not too far to get into town on foot (20 mins), bus or taxi (10 mins). The downside is that you’re not in the heart of Dublin so it’s not so easy to pop back to the hotel at lunchtime in between the sightseeing – you really need to plan to be out for the whole day.
A warm welcome at Croke Park Hotel in Dublin
We were impressed by the level of service at the Croke Park Hotel which was unfailingly friendly and helpful, while still being polished and professional. The Irish love to start every conversation with a “Hi, how are ya?” and everyone from the taxi driver to the reception staff, is happy to strike up a conversation at any opportunity and chat about anything you want. The concierge was very helpful and gave us plenty of information about things to do nearby, with recommendations included in a Slice of the City booklet, listing the restaurants and cafes nearby that the hotel recommends. As Guy said, “it feels like a business hotel with a soul“.
Read More: Dublin – top of the Quaffs
Eating in the Sideline Bistro
While we didn’t have a full dinner at the Sideline Bistro, as we were mostly out and about in Dublin, we did stop for a light snack, when I tried the beetroot and feta salad which was a tasty mixture of grains, salad leaves, broad beans, beetroot and feta. My son ordered the Seafood Chowder, always a reliable pub classic in Ireland, and well made with chunky pieces of cod and smoked haddock in a creamy broth with crumbly brown Guinness bread to accompany it. The menu has a good selection of dishes to suit every taste from the traditional fish and chips or Bistro Burger, to the more adventurous West Cork Crab and cucumber roll with mango salsa or the Piri Piri chicken with sweet potato fries. I was also pleased to see quite a few tempting dishes on the menu that would be suitable for veggies and vegans.
The Bistro dining room, which was where we also had breakfast continued the vaguely Asian style decor, with dark wooden furniture and bright pink orchids, echoing the pink carpet. The adjoining bar was comfortable and more traditional, with leather seating and squashy sofas and a big screen TV covering one wall; essential in Ireland for those who love to keep up with the sporting events. During the Saturday afternoon when the Hurling and Gaelic football matches were taking place, the bar was full of people having a drink before the game and the atmosphere was friendly and convivial, with lots of families having lunch.
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Breakfast at the Croke Park Hotel in Dublin
Our breakfast was served in the main bistro dining room, with most things laid out buffet style, a good selection of pastries, cheeses, fresh fruit, yoghurt. There was a huge array of silver serving dishes filled with all the bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and fried bread to make up your hearty Irish breakfast.
We were brought fresh toast as well as tea and coffee and I enjoyed my well made latte. There are also a few things that the kitchen will cook freshly for you including omlette, french toast, porridge and poached eggs on toast, which both Guy and I enjoyed.
Who is Croke Park Hotel good for?
The Croke Park Hotel is a stylish, friendly hotel to use as a base for your visit to Dublin and will suit couples, families and groups of friends travelling together. If it’s your first visit to Dublin and you have limited time for sightseeing, you may prefer a more central location. However it’s only a 10 minute €10-15 taxi ride to the centre and the quieter location is ideal if you’re in Dublin to visit family or friends as we were, spending a long weekend or arriving by car since there is a car park.
Croke Park Hotel in Dublin, Croke Park Stadium, Jones Rd, Dublin D3.
The Croke Park Stadium Tour
While you’re staying at Croke Park Hotel, we highly recommend doing the stadium tour which includes a visit to the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) museum. There are several tours each day and although there was also a large group of language students looking around, on Sunday morning we had a guide to ourself. The stadium tour starts with a video that brings alive the spirit and excitement of a match day as the fans arrive in their team colours and enjoy the speed and thrill of a big sporting event, either Hurling or Gaelic Football.
We were able to see behind the scenes where the teams gather for a drink after a big match and the dressing rooms where colourful team shirts were on display, perhaps a chance to try them on for a social media selfie? You’ll see me here with the blue Dublin colours, and your guide can tell you who are the most popular teams, and which don’t have much of a chance of winning despite the support of their loyal fans.
We pretended we were players coming out of the tunnel onto the pitch, although the stadium was empty and quiet with no appreciative roar of the crowd to greet us. Since there had been a match the day before, the groundsmen were out repairing the pitch surface, which is kept in perfect condition by being grown on a special base that can be watered and drained easily to avoid any muddy surfaces. We ventured into the VIP seating area and saw some of the corporate boxes that are used for entertaining, getting great views of the stadium from all angles. Croke Park Stadium Tour Adults €14, Child €9.
See a match at Croke Park
Since there happened to be a match on the Saturday we were staying at Croke Park, we had to get tickets to feel the real sporting atmosphere of Dublin. Unusually there were two matches on that day to watch with one ticket; a Hurling match between Dublin and Offaly, followed by the Gaelic Football between Dublin and Kildare. As it was early in the season we easily bought our €15 tickets from the local ticket shop opposite Gill’s pub at the end of the road from the hotel.
The crowd was not as huge as on a big cup match which would take place in the summer months, but the atmosphere was still wonderful and friendly, with plenty of families and children in the stadium. Hurling is a uniquely Irish sport and dates back centuries when stick ball would be played between different villages. There are elements of other sports you may know better such as hockey, cricket or lacrosse all mixed together. The ball travels fast being hit along the ground or through the air, caught in the hand, or balanced on the stick like an egg and spoon as the player runs along. The game moves at breakneck speed and is incredibly exciting to watch, as our taxi driver told us “Once you’ve watched the hurling you’ll never watch soccer again – I’d rather watch paint dry!”
Occasionally there was the clash of sticks as players jumped high in the air to compete for the ball. These days helmets are worn to protect the face and head, where in the past it would have been only a flat cap to keep your head warm. After the 90 minute Hurling match, we were getting cold so didn’t stay on for the Gaelic football, which we could see later on the TV screens in the pub. This was also a fast moving match where the players may kick the ball as in soccer but just as often they run with it like rugby or bounce it every few steps like basketball. I enjoyed the skill and constant action of both games and was happy to do without the full on body clashes that you get in rugby.
If you’re visiting Dublin, I highly recommend checking to see if there’s a game on the weekend you’re visiting and if it’s not a big match you’ll probably be able to buy a ticket when you arrive. Information on upcoming matches on the Croke Park Stadium website.
The GAA Museum at Croke Park Stadium
While you can visit the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) Museum as part of the stadium tour, or also on match days with your ticket, the museum can also be visited on its own. The Hurling, Gaelic Football and other sports are an integral part of Irish history and culture, a unique way of getting a local’s perspective on Dublin. In the museum you can see the old stadium turnstiles and the enormous silver trophies, learn about the legends of Gaelic sports heros and try your hand at jumping and playing the ball yourself in the interactive sports area. (GAA Museum Adult ticket €7, Child €5)
The Ericsson Skyline tour is also available several times a day to take you high up onto the stadium’s rooftop walkway with views across Dublin and tales of sporting highlights. (Adult ticket €20, Child €12)
Visit Fagan’s – a local Irish Pub
On the recommendation of several people we tried Fagan’s pub in nearby Drumcondra after the match which was a really local experience with traditional dark wood, a pub food menu and lively convivial atmosphere. There are big sports screens in some areas of the pub, but also other restaurant areas where you can get away from the constant sports coverage if you prefer.
How to get from Dublin airport to Croke Park Hotel
The Croke Park Hotel is easy to reach from the airport as it’s on the north side of the city. The quickest way to get there is to take a taxi which is a 15-20 minute drive and will cost around €20 or maybe a little more depending on which taxi you take. It’s worth downloading the mytaxi app which is a bit like Uber and allows you to order and pay for a taxi on your phone.
The cheapest way to get to the Croke Park Hotel, which we used, is to take the local bus run by Dublinbus. (not the airport shuttle). On coming out of the airport terminal, cross the road and walk through the building passage to where the local buses stop. You can take a number 16 or 41 bus from zone 11 and they run every 10-20 minutes. The cost is €2.80 – €3.30 one way and you need the exact change in coins (no notes) to put into the coin slot as you get on the bus. We took the bus to Drumcondra station and from here it was an 8 minute walk to the hotel.
Visitor Information for Dublin
For more information on things to do in Dublin check out the Visit Dublin website
For more information on things to do in Ireland check out the Tourism Ireland website
Looking for other tours of Dublin? – check out these from Get Your Guide
If you want to see Dublin over a few days try the Do-Dublin Hop on Hop off 72 Hour pass to get around all the major sites – there’s a shuttle bus from the Croke Park Hotel to take you to the bus route.
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Thanks to Croke Park Hotel who hosted our 2 night stay at the hotel. Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, allowing me to make a small commission on any bookings at no extra cost to you.