Humor me for a moment — let's play a little word association. When you think of Ireland, what are the first things that come to mind? Go ahead — turn your head away from the computer and think about this question. OK, now turn back and continue reading. The first pictures that most likely appeared in your head were lush green pastures, leprechauns, or probably something associated with drinking. But how about "elegance?" Does that vision come to mind? Anything related to the feeling of elegance? After a stay at the Jurys Inn at Ballsbridge — one of Dublin's most luxurious accommodations — you might remember Ireland in a completely different way.

The natural light atrium.

Ireland is filled with majestic green fields divided into oddly shaped rectangles by man-made rock walls. Each field is filled with cattle and sheep that act as natural lawnmowers while they graze. Above and behind these fields are randomly spaced villages and rolling hills dotted with more sheep. Castles are a common influence on Ireland's architecture, as are heavily wooded frames filled with fresh paint from all over the color palette. But the entire country has a calm yet friendly feeling to it — a feeling of history, grandeur and royalty.

Venture outward toward the republic's coastal edges and you'll find some of the world's most stunning ocean views. The Dingle Peninsula is one such place; it boasts an amazing scene of blue water crashing against high rugged cliffs, faintly dusting its surroundings with the scent of ocean mist. Photographers alike can indulge in these invigorating landscapes.

Heading to the East Coast you'll hit Ireland's capital city — Dublin. Established over 1000 years ago, Dublin is filled with extraordinarily friendly people & cobblestone streets winding around its central dividing point — the River Liffey. The city's culture, scenery, and nightlife make it a frequent vacationing spot for European and worldwide travelers alike. Double-decker buses constantly roll through the city visiting such places as Trinity College (Ireland's oldest, and most prestigious university), Dublin Castle, the Guinness Brewery, and even the house of U2's famous singer, Bono.

But the real draw of Dublin is its city center. Temple Bar, nicknamed by locals as "Temple Barf" due to excessive drinking, is filled with countless pubs on every street corner and alley. During the daytime, Temple Bar is filled with the sounds of rushing townsfolk. But once the blanket of night covers up the sun, these pubs become the centerpiece of where the real fun happens!

Comfy beds after a
night out in Dublin.

Sure, some of Dublin's drinking spots offer live music, including traditional Irish folk tunes or top American hits, but let's face it — the Irish go out at night for one reason and one reason only — to drink beer! And the choice beer of Irishmen and women is Guinness. Beer drinkers and non-beer drinkers alike have recognized Guinness as the essential Irish brew for years, but what most don't realize is that it has seemingly become one of the central archetypes of Irish culture. En route from the airport to Dublin, for example, one of my cab drivers bragged about a time when he was able to drink 27 pints of Guinness in one night — and still drove home! Although I didn't believe him, I calculated that to be about 4.5 gallons of beer! And we're not talking about regular watered down American beer here — Guinness is essentially a thick, malted, beer milkshake!

Or, stay at the hotel's Dubliner's Pub.

What's truly remarkable is that Guinness ads and promotional materials can be found all throughout Dublin! Virtually every pub, bar & restaurant in the city proudly displays sandwich boards stating "Guinness" underneath the daily specials. Most of downtown Dublin's awnings, tables, napkins, coasters, and the like make some type of reference to Guinness. Walk into a typical pub anywhere in Ireland and you'll find the majority of inhabitants taking large swigs of the brew out of their frothy pint glasses. Proudly gripping their beer in hand as one would a trophy, the locals will cheer with anyone and everyone, occasionally mocking the lads ordering half pints (which they playfully call "ladies' portions"). Although simply another import beer in America, in Ireland Guinness portrays the freedom and masculinity of Irish culture.

Comfort and Conferences.

My stay in Dublin encompassed as much beer as any, but I derived real pleasure (without hurting my liver) from my home base. The pubs are only open until 3 a.m., so eventually you do have to find a place to sleep it off to prepare for another night's drinking!

I had the pleasure of staying at a luxurious hotel by the name of Jurys Inn at Ballsbridge — a 4-star Irish resort that lies just outside the city center.

The area could be best described as quaint but sophisticated, and surrounded by groups of other high-end hotels. The Jurys Inn is renowned for its genial charm, elegant accommodations, and first-class meeting rooms. It boasts spacious classic and executive rooms as well as three enchanting junior suites. Each room has a refrigerator complete with refreshments, movies on demand, and a variety of television stations from all around the world. Quite possibly the most important feature — at least for me — was the fact that there was an American plug outlet in the room so I could charge my camera and cell phone while sleeping.

Hot wired.

The front lounge is filled with marble floors, plush furniture, and a phenomenal décor that clearly portrays the hotel's level of class. Down the hall from the lounge is an internet café with state-of-the-art computers ready for command for anyone with an insatiable media appetite. Printers, and literally an entire business office is also set up for the more professional guests. Make sure to grab a handful or ten of the orange cream candies on your way out. Just don't eat too many or you won't have room for your pig's blood. (I'm only kidding — unless you really do like pig's blood).

Peel off the pounds.

Near the main lobby is a Health Center that features a heated indoor/outdoor pool, gym, whirlpool, saunas, and a Beauty Salon. Aside from the usual 4-star hotel amenities, the Jurys Inn also prides itself on its Vegas-style dinner show. Running May through October, guests may book seats to see the spectacular "Jurys Irish Cabaret", comprising the very best of Irish music and dance and features some of Ireland's best-known artists. If a dinner show really isn't your style, you can relax with a pint at the hotel's very own drinking hotspot — The Dubliner. One of the city's liveliest pubs and twice voted Hotel Pub of the Year; the Dubliner offers an excellent carvery lunch and appeals to residents even outside the hotel's gates.

The Coffee Deck
for breakfast.

Raglan's for fine dining.

Typical Irish food will usually consist of a freshly home-baked stew filled with large morsels of steak, hearty potatoes, and healthy vegetables. In the United States, one would assume black pudding is chocolate flavored. In Ireland, black pudding is a combination of pigs blood, pork, pork fat, and oatmeal stuffed into a chorizo casing, then cooked to perfection. Mmm Mmm! I myself prefer a typical Irish breakfast of bacon, toast, and oatmeal. But hey, everyone is different.

In terms of dining, if you're looking for a snack at any hour of the day or night, stop in at the hotel's Coffee Dock for a quick sandwich or entrée.
The Coffee Dock is open from 0600-0430 on Sundays and from 0700-0430 on Mondays; and from 0600-0430 on Tuesdays thru Saturdays. The menu is a la carte.

For a more formal dining experience, Raglan’s Restaurant offers rich, elegant surroundings, combined with a wonderful blend of classic and new world dishes at refreshingly affordable prices.

Raglan's opening hours are 0700-1000 for breakfast; 1215-1430 for lunch; 1230-1430 for lunch on Sundays; 1815-2215 for dinner; and from 1815-2130 for dinner on Sundays.

Library lounge: Opening hours 0800-0130 - Monday - Thursday; 0800-0230 - Friday - Saturday; 0800-0030 - Sunday; Sundays closed 1400-1600 Attractive lounge where guests can sit and relax in a quiet friendly atmosphere.

As tough as it is to drag yourself out of such amazing accommodations, and only five minutes from the front doors of the Jurys Inn is the famous Lansdowne Rugby Stadium. Sports enthusiasts around the country hold this field in high Click for the Irish Blogregard, as it is home to Ireland’s world-class football team. Now when I say “football,” I actually mean soccer. Remember, what we know as “football” is known as “American football” to the rest of the world. Yet the original “football” is a game primarily played with the foot — a.k.a. soccer. Whatever you call it, you can enjoy a live game at Landsdowne Stadium while the rest of Dublin watches it at home or on screen at a local pub.

This lavish hotel and its opportune surroundings raised the quality of my vacation to a level I never expected. While traveling through Ireland I definitely experienced lush green pastures, numerous musical leprechaun dolls, and an inordinate amount of drinking. I had no idea I would leave the country with more memories of elegance than of pubbing. I have to hand it to the Jurys Inn at Ballsbridge — this hotel made me feel like royalty. In a country of castles, fields, and amazing oceanic views, who wouldn’t want to feel like a king?

— By Josh Edelson, Long Beach, California Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent.

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