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April 24, 2008

Clarence and Connaught: a tale of two cities

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Luxury hotels will always be with us. Even in the midst of the “credit crunch”, people with money were checking in last week at the Connaught Hotel in London’s Mayfair, where the cheapest room is £409 (€511) a night and lavish suites can be had for up to £1,260 (€1,573). It oozes opulence, in the way luxury hotels must and even should. Also last week, An Bord Pleanála held an oral hearing on plans to demolish all but the front façade of the Clarence Hotel and adjoining buildings on Dublin’s Wellington Quay and replace it with a much larger hotel arranged around a dramatic ‘skycatcher’ atrium and with the entire edifice oversailed by an elliptical flying saucer-style roof. The connection between these two five-star hotels is the Belfast-born property developer Paddy McKillen. Along with deal-maker Derek Quinlan, he holds a major stake in the Maybourne Hotel Group, which owns the Connaught, and the pair are also partnering U2’s Bono and The Edge in the proposed redevelopment of the Clarence Hotel. Both hotels are also listed buildings, but the approach being taken to their renovation is quite different. The Connaught is being splendidly restored and embellished, with a respectful extension to be built at the rear, whereas the Clarence would be demolished and replaced under the scheme proposed by ‘starchitects’ Foster + Partners.

The Irish Times

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