On the quiet corner of a busy city, just off Adelaide Road, sits The Wilder Townhouse. The hotel itself only opened its doors earlier last summer, but the building is a listed Victorian building – meaning it must be preserved and certain features like its red brick exterior cannot be altered.
Its origin as “A home for retired governnesses” dates back to the 1800s and this combination of old red brick with a new minimalist design of white marble floors, blue wood paneling and golden accents creates a welcoming juxtaposition from the monochromatic look and feel of the usual hotel experience.
It’s about “maintaining a time gone by, but with modern amenities”, Bríd Mc Auliffe, the Assistant Manager, tells me. The Wilder is a boutique hotel, designed to give the traveler a feeling of comfort, a feeling of home.
And that they have done. Because it’s a listed building, the thirty-three fireplaces cannot be removed, and neither can the wardrobes. This has led to some fascinating and ingenious modifications, which include the area around each fireplace being turned into a bathroom and sinks being installed underneath the fireplace, with the soaps and other toiletries placed on the mantel board.
It is a small hotel whose setting is a building built in a time when everything was smaller. This lack of space has been accounted for as well. The smallest room they offer is quite small, but tall windows with lovely quiet views give the feeling of coziness and openness at the same time. Other ingenuities too have been used to accommodate for its size. Given the lack of space available for cupboards and chests of drawers, several of the rooms come complete with a dressmakers’s mannequin on which guest can hang their dress shirt or evening gown. A lovely, bespoke touch.
Alice in Wonderland teacups, a quirky little statue of a zebra in uniform, even a magnifying glass whose handle mimics that of a duck’s foot, these are just some of the fun and unique additions which give the hotel its character and feel. Its design allows for its small size to be used as an advantage.
“We built a home and that’s what you notice”, Bríd says as she talks about the process of turning the old building into a welcoming area. All the staff are friendly and all worked hard to turn The Wilder into a reality.
Stepping away from the rooms and through to the dining area, you enter the Gin and Tea Room.The tea room greets you to the right and the bar to the left. The bar is small and intimate. It is open all day and serves an impressive array of Irish gins and other spirits.
On warm summer days, the Garden Room (which attaches itself to the Gin and Tea Room) opens up onto the patio with views of the quiet Harcourt Terrace as the summer breeze blows through.
There is a wonderful breakfast buffet available each morning for guests to enjoy.
Or guests can choose to have breakfast cooked to order, like the delicious morning meal we sampled below. The fact that they are a small hotel allows them such luxuries as that, Bríd informs me.
Before it was The Wilder, the building had many lives, including being a retirement home and an artists’ residence. It is situated in one of the more affluent areas of Dublin, where many offices and corporations reside and where many famous faces have lived in the past, including Michael MacLiammoir and Hilton Edwards, actors and founders of The Gate Theatre. During the days when people are at work it is a busy area, but in the evenings and during the weekend it becomes very quite indeed.
Having said that, only a few blocks away are Harcourt street and Camden street, the most buzzing areas of Dublin. “We’re very lucky,” Bríd says, talking about the hotel’s location, “because we’re just far enough away that you can have a good night’s sleep”. And yet, not too far away. “You don’t need to [take the bus]. Everything is within reach.”
The Wilder is is designed for those that prefer a unique perspective over corporate uniformity. Its small size and cosy feel cater to those looking for a bespoke holidaying experience, one which meets the needs of the individual in a personal and creative way. It is, after all, a boutique hotel. Take, for example, their current Christmas offer, where you can get mulled wine and minced pies when you arrive, and a three-course meal at a restaurant nearby with canapes and unlimited house wine.
If you are looking for something a cut above the rest, an experience that is anything but ordinary, the Wilder is dressed and ready for you to begin your stay!