Yesterday I spent all day in our capital city Dublin. I had an important project meeting, which went very well, and then to select and book a hotel for another client.
There has never been a shortage of hotels in Dublin, and in recent years - as a result and by-product of our "Celtic Tiger" economic boom - many new ones have been built. So there is now rather a surplus of hotel rooms in Ireland's capital and one would assume that this might lead to more competition and fair pricing. But, as I had to learn yesterday, this is not the case.
Since I have not been in need of a hotel room in Dublin for many years, I decided to visit a number of recommended hotels, check out availability and prices, and have a personal look at the rooms on offer before I make the booking.
As I had expected, there was no shortage of rooms. But the prices most hotels were asking for surprised me greatly. If one needs a decent and modestly comfortable room with the usual facilities - such as a proper bathroom, writing table and internet access - one can no longer find it in Dublin for a decent price. The "Celtic Tiger" has obviously eaten up all common sense and decency of Dublin hoteliers, who have collectively joined the league of greedy b......s.
The only hotels that still offer relatively reasonable prices are those on the outskirts of Dublin, huge multi-storey concrete blocks far away from the city centre and all its attractions, and often wedged in by industrial estates, motorways and large building sites.
In the inner city the prices for rooms have risen well above the European average, and even in some cases above the level of London and New York. I was really and truly surprised, especially since the quality of most rooms I saw did in no way match the asked prices.
In all I visited a dozen hotels, and in most of them I found relatively small second (and even third) rate rooms with no great comfort, and often only a shower instead of a proper bath. But the prices were nevertheless first rate!
But what annoyed me most of all is the practice of Dublin hotels to charge massively more for a room on Fridays and Saturdays. It is not unusual that room prices are higher for a weekend booking, but in all hotels I have stayed so far - in many different cities and countries - booking a whole week gives one a general price for the seven days. Not so in Dublin, where visitors are charged extra weekend prices, even if they are staying in the hotel for a much longer time. The difference between the regular price for a room and the price charged for Friday and Saturday ranges between 20% and more than 100% extra!
As I said, I would not be surprised to encounter higher rates when booking only for a weekend, since there are often large sporting events that bring more people into Dublin. The city is also popular with young British visitors for extended drinking sessions, apparently more attractive to them than the pubs and clubs they can find at home. And they also come only for a weekend.
But when one books a hotel room for a week or even longer, it is usual to be given a fair price that does not change on certain days, only because some other visitors might come to watch a Rugby match or get senselessly drunk.
But the hotels of Dublin are obviously on a greed trip, out to milk visitors as much as possible, and with no thoughts or regards to image and reputation. "Grab as many Euros as you can get from each customer" has replaced "Cead Mile Failte" (A hundred thousand welcomes, the old Irish phrase used by the Irish Tourist Board) as the motto for the Irish capital.
This scandalous display of greed might bring in a few extra millions for a while, but on the long run it can and surely will deplete the influx of visitors, especially as there are now many more options for interesting weekend breaks all over Europe (and to many cities that have a lot more culture and attractions to offer than Dublin, and for much lower prices).
Another observation I made during my reconnaissance of Dublin hotels is the lack of Irish staff. Of the 12 hotels I visited yesterday, only one had an Irish receptionist on duty. Almost all staff I encountered was foreign, with a high proportion of Polish women in reception and Pakistani men in the role of hotel porters. The waiter who served me dinner was Russian, and several of the hotel managers I spoke with came from South Africa. Where are all the Irish gone? I really like to know, since we are no longer a country of emigrants.
Eventually, after hours of searching and arguing, I found a hotel that could offer my client a fair deal. The price for the room is still higher than it should be, but of all the available options it is the most attractive, with the largest and best-furnished rooms, and additional facilities not offered by anyone else. So my search was in the end successful for my client, and his visit to Dublin will - hopefully - be pleasant and successful as well. But I left the city with a generally bad feeling and will in future be very hesitant to recommend to anyone a stay in Dublin, if it can be avoided.
After all, there are many more Irish cities with plenty of hotels and other accommodation. And they, as far as I am aware, have not (yet) joined the Dublin gravy train of greed.
Glad to back at home again, I remain for now
The Emerald Islander