For visitors and locals alike, the Knightsbridge Bar offers some of the best pub grub, most sought after live entertainment (from musicians, dancers and patrons), and one of the meanest pint of Guinness in the entire city. This, along with its location on the banks of the River Liffey in central Dublin and a short walk from Temple Bar and Grafton Street makes the Knightsbridge a can't miss.
The Knightsbridge Bar is located at the base of the Arlington Hotel, just opposite the O'Connell Bridge. The hotel was constructed in 1997 and since then has become one of the most popular hotels with its three-star rating, 115 rooms, central location, and medieval theme that has a feel similar to that of nearby Clontarf Castle. If you're staying at the hotel and need to park your car there, you'll need to enter the alley off Abbey Street at the rear of the hotel. Considering the narrowness of said alley, madness of local motorists, the constant throng of pedestrians and your having to make your way through them, I would recommend learning quantum physics as that is an easier task than getting into the car park... For those of you with some vestige of sanity, or simply don't have a car, step up to the black-painted wooden facade of the Knightsbridge Bar along Bachelors Walk, just west of O'Connell Street. Once inside the Knightsbridge, you'll find an enormous, oak-paneled expanse filled with stained glass, a sea of low-slung wooden tables and the din of those enjoying one of Dublin's largest pubs. The entire room is drenched in a golden glow that emanates from iron chandeliers and white candles with wax overflowing onto the bottles of wine that hold them. Metal suits of armor stand on either side of the doorways leading to the plush confines of the Arlington Hotel lobby. Books and encyclopedias lie on a shelf behind a long wooden bar that runs the length of the room along the east side of the wall, and which compliment the series of stuffed animal heads, Irish crests, flags and other medieval artifacts salvaged from old bars and schoolhouses, located elsewhere in the bar. Here at the bar, one can enjoy a pint from one of a legion of high-backed wooden barstools. An elevated seating area and additional, smaller wooden bar can be found in the back if you have the stamina to walk that far.
For lunch, a carvery menu is available featuring roast beef, corned beef, cabbage, mashed potatoes, mashed yams, fried potatoes, pasta, and meat pies. For those not used to a carvery lunch, don't be surprised to find yourself in starch Heaven (or Hell, depending on your love of the spud) as not one or two but three kinds of potatoes will be loaded onto your plate. An ala carte "tourist menu" is available for dinner, featuring the finest Irish recipes including Irish stew and delicacies from the sea, and the more formal, similarly-named Knights Bistro is located across from the Knightsbridge Bar, through the lobby. During lunch, the drinks service is mediocre at best and in the evenings, you're better off heading to the bar yourself unless you like to enjoy a pint of Guinness once every two hours.
The main draw to the Knightsbridge Bar is the Irish river dancers. Every night, gaping patrons mob every table within eyeshot of young Irish lasses in velvet dresses and golden blouses and token men in black (not of the Will Smith variety) that all kick up a jig that would make Michael Flatley proud. For those not fortunate enough to get a table within 100 yards of the stage like me (not an exaggeration), a series of closed-circuit televisions in the recesses of the room broadcast the action. Even the staff can be seen doing a jig and reel behind the bar from time to time. The show begins each night at 9:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. on weekends, and at 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays (early show). Traditional Irish music can also be heard after the dancing, and the bar turns into more of a nightclub as you near the wee hours, with a DJ afterwards. All entertainment at the Knightsbridge is free all year round. When the bar closes around 12:30-ish from Thursday through Saturday, head on down to the self-described "exclusive" Boardwalk Nite Club in the hotel's cellar for 70's, 80's and 90's tunes. The Boardwalk is free for residents but 7 € for the great unwashed.
As a tourist, the Knightsbridge Bar is everything you want in a Dublin pub. However, if you're a local, you'll need a strong stomach for all the American tourists, the "'Barnsley brigade' – English stag and hen parties baring their hairy arseholes," and the Irish businessmen trying to pick them up with a disturbing amount of success. While the median age of Knightsbridge patrons hovers somewhere around 50, plenty of youngins are out-matched pint for pint by little old Irish ladies. After a night of revelry, head home or to your € 75 room that thankfully are soundproofed so you won't be kept awake listening to the Irish sing "Who Let the Dogs Out?" out on the street like I did one night at another hotel. Enjoy a breakfast buffet the next morning back at the Knightsbridge.
As a newcomer to the vibrant pub scene and competitive hotel market, proprietor Georgina Higgins was done well in establishing the Knightsbridge Bar and Arlington Hotel as a Dublin classic. See for yourself on your next trip to the black pool of Dubh-Lin. For more information or to book a room online, check out the Arlington Hotel website.
"May the sound of happy music
And the lilt of Irish laughter
Fill your heart with gladness
That stays forever after"
– Irish Blessing
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