‘It’s not posh,’ I try to explain to Anton. ‘Everyone comes here. I’m surprised you haven’t been here before yourself.’
‘It’s upstairs mate,’ he pleads. ‘It’s posh.’ He sort of has a point. But my legs hurt from our rapid ascension, and a table has just opened up beside a window, so the argument can wait.
The Library Bar, perhaps so called for its atmospheric insistence on no music, feels quite a million miles away from the busy intersection of George’s and Exchequer Streets it overlooks from the first floor of Central Hotel. Period furniture, a glowing fireplace and abundant mahogany conspire to give the effect of a backdrop to some commissioned 19th century portrait or other, punctured only by the occasional errant print on the material of the assorted armchairs, recalling Heatons rather than Eton. The low hum of background chatter is the only soundtrack to a quiet drink, with this quietness assured in turn by the absence of ambient music. One of the presumed benefits of having the word ‘library’ in the name of your bar (some might consider the two places of absolute qualitative difference) is that it copperfastens a certain sense of what your establishment is about. In this case, not stag nights, not cocktails, not ‘Gangnam Style’ and not standing up. One might also add not tea and coffee, which are bizarrely priced at €3 each (the coffee, despite being served in an individual pot, is decidedly not great, in case you were interested).
Free WiFi is a prerequisite for most hotels, but few of them have a bar as pleasant, central and quiet as the Library Bar, making it an ideal place to do some work, particularly if you’re the kind of person who works while drinking pints. Friendly and attentive table service gives the impression that you’re actually staying in a hotel, which is a novelty if you can’t afford to stay in a hotel, and you even get a key card to access the toilets! The bar’s period drawing-room atmosphere means it’s a very specific kind of experience you get here — think quiet, conspiratorial pints rather than pre-drinks — but one without immediate parallel in Dublin’s city centre. With a selection of draught lagers (including Peroni and San Miguel) reaching near to the €6 mark, however, you might want to stick with the Guinness, which is decent and comes in just under a fiver at €4.95.
‘Are you not embarrassed to have people waiting on you, in a pub?’ Anton asks. ‘Chap at the bar actually glared at me when I went up to order myself.’
‘It’s traditional though, Anton,’ I reply, and find myself quietly shushing, under my breath and sinking into my chair, as his protestations continue.
Words: Oisín Murphy-Hall / Photos: Evan Buggle