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hampton hotel

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Ahead of the pack

The recession may have virtually halted the flow of new Dublin hotels as the once-mighty Celtic Tiger wheezes its last, but one absolute gem has managed to defy the trend. In the upmarket suburb of Donnybrook, a half-hour stroll from the centre, the Hampton has been stunningly refashioned from six Georgian townhouses.

Its personality comes from the imaginative way that the listed building's elegant architectural features have been infused with ultra-contemporary design. The 24 large, high-ceilinged bedrooms (including three suites) all have ample light from the original windows, with bold colour schemes adding to their distinctive ambience. Other contemporary touches include 42-inch flatscreen TVs, DVD players, Wi-Fi and plasma electronic fires, while the stylish bathrooms have deep soaking tubs.

But cool doesn't mean aloof: the service is warm and friendly and a key part of the hotel's charm. The excellent bar-bistro is buzzing all day and atmospheric at night by candlelight. In summer you can eat and drink outside on the heated terrace. There's live jazz on Friday night, and a nightclub is planned.

Hampton Hotel: 19-29 Morehampton Road, Donnybrook, Dublin (00 353 1 668 0995; www.hamptonhotel.ie). Doubles from € 99.