When we travel, it’s amazing how a few places just “click” for us. It’s hard to know what triggers that feeling – maybe the way a certain place looks or smells, the way a person there treats you, or a place having the exact thing you happen to need at a certain time. However it happens, there are some places that just connect with you in a special way that make them your unforgettable favorites. For Philly and me, one of those places is The Bank on College Green in Dublin.
Where Is The Bank on College Green?
The Bank on College Green is in the heart of Dublin, in one of the main tourist areas. The address is 20-22 College Green, Dublin, D02 C868. It’s about a block and a half west of the main entrance to Trinity College. It’s on the fringes of the Temple Bar area, but just outside the fray of the craziest parts of the Temple Bar scene. The Bank is located on the heavily-trafficked street, College Green, which, as you travel to the west away from Trinity College, soon becomes Dame Street, and a few blocks thereafter, Lord Edward Street.
Why Do We Love The Bank on College Green?
The story of why Philly and I love The Bank on College Green starts back in 2012 during our first visit to Dublin and continues through our second trip to Dublin in June 2016, on the trip we’re chronicling in this Trip Report.
September 2012: Our First Visit to The Bank
In late August-early September 2012, Philly and I made our first-ever trip to Ireland. Our primary motivation for this trip was to attend the Notre Dame-Navy football game at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. This was the season opener of 2012, and a special occasion for both teams and fan bases. Reports were that 30-35,000 Americans made the trip over for the game – the most Americans ever to travel to Ireland at one time, ever.
We started our trip with a few days in Killarney, then moved up to Dublin for the game and our last few days in Ireland. We were late in deciding to go on this trip, and as a result, the choices for accommodations in Dublin were slim. We ended up staying at a hotel about 3/4 of a mile east of Trinity College and a mile east of the Temple Bar area. This property had formerly been a Holiday Inn but had been dropped from the franchise, best I could tell for not meeting Holiday Inn standards. It was safe and reasonably liveable, but old and worn. The thing we will never forget about this hotel is that there was no cold water in the sink. To brush your teeth or do anything else where you needed cold water, you had to use the tub. Better to have cold water only in the tub than hot water only in the sink, I suppose! It was workable for a few days, but we weren’t exactly in the lap of luxury.
We had heard that the Temple Bar area was the place to be, so after the football game we trekked in that direction. I actually can’t recall whether someone had tipped us off to The Bank or whether we stumbled upon it. Regardless, our first experience at The Bank was for dinner.
When you walk into The Bank, its grandeur is almost overwhelming, especially in its stark contrast to many other local buildings that are relatively drab. When you enter, your first look into The Bank reveals this:Before becoming a restaurant and bar, The Bank was – not surprisingly – an actual bank. According to The Bank’s website, the construction resulting in the grandiose space you see here took place in the 1890’s. At that time, the building was owned by Belfast Bank. This interior was the main banking hall, with a stained glass ceiling, mosaic tiled floors, dramatic columns, and hand-carved plasterwork and cornicing. More than 100 years later, The Bank re-purposed and became a bar and restaurant in 2003. Despite the renovations, The Bank retained the original vaults, which you can see if you venture downstairs (perhaps on a visit to the washrooms).
As you can see from the picture above, the bar of The Bank is immediately in front of you when you enter. It’s traditional, dark wood with barstools all around and a few small high tables around the perimeter. There are a few tv’s in the bar area, but they’re not the main focus of the space. The restaurant area, in the more open part of the room, is to the left.
Here are a couple more pictures, to give you an idea of the space:Let’s just say that The Bank is a few steps above the crazy pubs of Temple Bar in the “impressive and ornate” department!
Back to our first visit to The Bank – Philly and I had a meal there, which I recall as being good and solid, but otherwise unmemorable. But here’s what we’ll never forget. By this point of our trip, we had been in Ireland for a few days. I was in the thick of running a law firm and working on some very large patent lawsuits. Connection and being able to communicate back to the office were critical. Up to this point, though, we had barely been able to get any working WiFi during our entire time in Ireland. But when we got to The Bank and signed in, ta-da! Their WiFi connection worked perfectly! Fast and stable. We were in touch with the world for the first time in days. As embarrassing as this is to tell, I don’t think Philly or I looked up from our phones for the first 45 minutes we were there! Now that was a good way to make a first impression.
After dinner, we went over to the bar and had a nightcap or two. The bartenders were friendly and took good care of us. We left The Bank feeling great – this was a place that took care of what we needed, and was quite the beautiful setting to boot.
We returned to the bar at The Bank for another night or two while we were in Dublin. We fondly recall our last night there, when we were out of ideas for drinks and asked the bartenders to help us. After listening to what we liked, they came up with what they called a “Midori Frog” for us – a layered shot consisting of Baileys and Midori. We weren’t sure about it, but they were quite tasty. As I recall, we enjoyed a couple and then had a Midori sour as a nightcap.
We left Dublin loving The Bank, and looking forward to the day we would return.
June 2016: Our Return to The Bank
Given how good a time we’d had at The Bank on our first trip, we couldn’t wait to get back once we started planning our Ireland & Scotland holiday that is the subject of this Trip Report. We chose The Morrison Doubletree Hotel for our stay, knowing that it was within easy walking distance. And once again, we had a great time hanging out at The Bank.
While we were in Dublin, Ireland’s national soccer team matched up against Sweden in the prestigious Euro 2016 tournament, and we took this as an excuse to spend more time at The Bank. Even though The Bank isn’t classically a sports bar, there were enough tv’s for us to watch the game with the locals while we sipped a few drinks. Ireland looked to be in good shape for a while with an early 2nd half goal, much to the delight of the crowd. But Sweden equalized later, and the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
After a long walk and dinner, Philly and I returned to The Bank to wind down our last night in Ireland. We settled in at the far end of the bar and saw that one of the bartenders had also served us when we were there 4 years earlier! This speaks to the quality of high-level bartenders and servers in Europe in general, where service can be a true profession with a quality wage that can support a family, as opposed to the US where service is typically a low-paying transient job. And that night, the bartenders continued to display their craft, including painstakingly making drinks one at a time using a manual smoker. In homage to our 2012 visit, I drank Midori sours. We chatted with the bartenders and several of our fellow patrons, including a delightful young American couple who were teaching and raising young children in Aberdeen, Scotland, and had ventured to Dublin for a quick holiday.
Again, it was a terrific, memorable time at a place that’s become near and dear to our hearts. And we can’t wait for our next chance to spend an evening at The Bank.
Remarkably, in spite of how much we’ve enjoyed our time at The Bank, we’ve never snapped a single photo inside. Even though our visits were long before I ever thought of doing a travel website, this was an unforgivable omission. Fortunately, though, my good friend Edventures from Canada sent me a picture from his recent evening at The Bank, so we have one original photo for our article.
Have you ever been to The Bank? How did you like it? What are your own all-time favorite places, whether in Dublin or somewhere else in the world? Let us know in the Comments!