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Back in the 1990s, when the Celtic Tiger was starting to roar, the Clarence became something of a symbol of the “new” Dublin. Chic, fashionable, and with megastar owners to boot (Bono and the Edge from U2), it spoke of Dublin’s revival as a modern and cultured capital city. These days, with the economy slowing down, the Clarence has lost some of its original luster—U2 have sold their share, and a refurbishment is overdue. The surrounding profusion of trendy bars and restaurants also means that street noise is a problem. However, the friendly and professional staff go a long way toward making up for any imperfections. Pleasant, good-size guest rooms are done in contemporary tones (chocolate and cream or white with accents of scarlet and black). Most of the furniture is the work of Irish designers, and beds are luxuriously comfortable. Prices are high, but check the website for package deals and special offers, particularly in the off-season. The trendy Cleaver East restaurant serves ultra-contemporary Irish far, and stopping by the lovely Octagon Bar for a pint of Guinness is a must, even if you're not staying here. The basement Liquor Rooms nightclub, which has a nice retro speakeasy vibe, is one of the coolest places in Temple Bar for late-night cocktails (see p. ###).