On one of the walls of Dublin's main Cathedral St Patrick's is a plaque in memory of a Victorian woman. As well as being the wife of one of the cathedral's deans, who has a much larger plaque above, the woman was notable for living a life of 'unostentatious piety'. Last week I had the pleasure of staying down the road from St Patrick's in The Westbury. At no point during a weekend of opulence that far surpasses anything I have previously experienced was I either pious of unostentatious.

The Westbury markets itself as the most luxurious hotel offering in Dublin and regularly hits the top spots in polls of Ireland's best hotel. Such giddy heights did seem to be reflected in the 'ohh very nice's of the couple of Dubliners I told about the place we were staying. As well as instant name recognition, The Westbury has a sense of holistic hospitality that stretches from the moment you arrive at the door - where Thomas the doorman took our bags - to the unobtrusive but will drilled knowledge of the staff, who seemed to know where you had been and where you were supposed to go.

While me and my companion's stay may not have been completely typical of most people's visit to the Balfe Street hotel, given that we were invited along for the most absurdly generous of freebies, it is difficult to see how the anyone's stay could be anything less than very comfortable.

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To look at the hotel stands between the old world sophistication and contemporary Irish interior design. Straight lined, simplistic four-poster beds, glass bottomed side lamps and a 55inch television provide the new; pleasingly dense velvet curtains, a heftily framed lift replete with a cushioned bench and monochrome bath robes hints of the old.

If you are staying at The Westbury having only seen photos of it online, then the effect upon walking inside the reception hall is particularly arresting. In photo form the hard wood chairs and real marble tables do not look half as impressive as in real life, while also failing to accurately convey the fact that not a single penny had been spared.

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In terms of onsite amenities the Sidecar Bar provides drinks and occasionally live music, and the Wilde Room breakfast and dinner. On Saturday evening we dined in the Wilde where entertainment came in the form of our charming Romanian waiter who regaled us with stories of Cluj Napoca, delicious Irish oysters and the quietly arguing couple next to us.

The hotel is not by any means perfect. Some aspects of the room are slightly aged, like the Tilevision telly that was installed into our bathroom wall. A comical novelty, but also one that crackled with white noise while I watched England lose at cricket in the shower. The halibut my companion ate for dinner was slightly overcooked. We queued for half an hour to eat breakfast on Sunday morning. While this might feel like nitpicking, it is perhaps noteworthy given The Westbury's pricetag. The cheapest room costs £230, with our luxury four poster coming in at a touch under £400 for the night. If you have the money however, then it is undoubtedly the most comfortable and luxurious of boltholes from which to explore the Irish capital.

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Second on our two stop tour of the emerald Isle was Cork. Our second leg did not begin well. Having reserved seat on the two hour and a half train ride, we were alarmed to discover a carriage load of OAPs had plonked themselves down on the prebooked seat. After forty minutes of standing in the isle chastising myself for not having the heart to stake a claim to my rightful spot the tea trolley arrived. I bought a tea, only to turn around and discover the geriatric community of the Republic had bustled up behind me in an attempt to get their hands on a Barry's Gold Blend first.

The elderly, parochial vibe of that train carriage was carried over into Cork itself, which moved at a gentle pace on the two midweek days of our stay.

It is a beautiful town set in a valley which allows for sweeping vistas from numerous vantage points to the north. While its tourist offering is not huge, we spent a pleasant afternoon in the contemporary art gallery and Cork Gael, an imposing museum complete with eery prisoner models and chinking key sounds.

Although Cork City struggled to shrug off a slight sleepy feeling, our hotel did so with ease.

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Situated to the south of the city overlooking the water, the suitably named River Lee is a far more modern offering than its sister hotel in Dublin. Both are part of the Doyle Collection, yet the similarities stop there.

The entrance hall is cavernous and incredibly spacious, more similarly to the Tates' Turbine Hall with its cut through view of the floors above than the Westbury's vintage charm. Equally the rooms are far less ostentatious than they are sleek and practical.

The River Lee is currently battling it out to become Cork's best hotel, having been leap frogged for the top spot in recent years. In a bid to get it back at number one the hotel’s owners have invested a great deal of money, bringing the bar, breakfast room and dining area up to a very high standard.

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It is impossible to deny such a redesign has been a success. The Mirror Room, where we ate on our first evening, looked like something out of the Liberty wallpaper section. Tropical colours and abstract print provided a loose theme for a relaxed restaurant. The effect was to bring to life the room’s functionality, much as the huge windows that took up the entirety of our bedroom wall beckoned in a stunning view of the city and something a little magic.

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Fundamentally the two hotels provide a different offering; pomp and sophistication at the Westbury, a place and boardroom turned ping-pong parlour for nearby tech giants Apple to break out into. At both charming Irish, continental European and American staff charmed us. We were very well catered for.