Located across the street from St. Stephen’s Green and a short block away from Grafton Street, The Fitzwilliam Hotel is perfectly located for a traveler like me. St. Stephen’s Green is a gorgeous park, filled with verdant green plants, a large pond and charming spots for reading, relaxing and chatting with a friends.
The hotel, transformed by well-known English designer, Sir Terrance Conran, is about ten years old. The building a, converted theater, is now a modern and interesting spot to rest at the end of a busy day. Its lobby is not fussy or pretentious, reflecting the spirit of the Irish.
The colors of the interior design of the hotel make me think of the colors of the city itself—grey, green and splashes of purple. This echoes the leaden gray skies of a country where rain is the normal and the vibrant spots of purple blooms are surrounded by the luscious greens in the nearby parks.
Grafton Street, the busy bustling center of town chock-o-block with shops and pubs, Trinity College and Temple Bar are but a few steps away. Our room was fitted out with comfortable seating, a lovely orchid on a small table and a very comfortable bed. Needed it after walking around the city and a delicious dinner of contemporary version of Shepard’s Pie at a pleasant restaurant with a funny name, The Pig’s Ear.
I especially enjoyed chatting with Tony, head bellman, who shared with me the history of building. He struck me as the quintessential smiling Irish man you might meet at any neighborhood pub and strike up a lively conversation. Charming. Easy to talk with and full of stories.
Tony worked in the building when it was a movie theater, and remembering wearing a jacket with silver buttons and roped epaulette. He straightened his shoulders, and seemed to stand taller as he recalled his impressive get up from years ago. Clearly memories crowded in and he said to visualize the grand salons of the Titanic to think of the theater’s interior.
We talked about the two huge portraits of grand ladies flanking the fireplace of the Fitzwilliam’s well designed and attractive lobby. He asked me what I thought they meant.
My first response is that they are a spoof on the ever-present fussy, formal and often pretentious portraits of gentry typical in grand homes of British Isles. Then I mused about what the faceless ladies might be saying about the role of women in modern society.
Tony had his own ideas. He proposes that an old film called the Flying Dutchman with Ava Gardner where an artist’s sweetheart dies before he can finish painting her face is the inspiration for the paintings.
Hmmm. Interesting to ponder. I’ll rent the movie and see what I think.
We then discussed what kind of faces we’d add…. since one woman was quite stocky, the other frail and delicate. But his duties at the hotel took him away and I headed off to explore St. Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square.
But I’ll always wonder about the meaning of those faceless grand dames.