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Back to its roots: Shelbourne Hotel dropping iconic revolving doors in return to original entrance structure

The hotel said personal injury claims and more than 20 incidents prompted the move.

The Shelbourne was awarded an architectural conservation award in 2017.
The Shelbourne was awarded an architectural conservation award in 2017.
Image: Shutterstock/faithie

DUBLIN’S SHELBOURNE HOTEL is going back in time after owners received planning permission to remove the iconic revolving doors at the entrance and replace them with hinged doors, similar to when it first opened in its current form in 1867

The revolving doors at the entrance facing onto St Stephen’s Green have become a key feature of the 150-year-old protected structure. 

Following a number of personal injury claims, the hotel submitted plans to remove them and the Sunday Times reported last week that it had received planning permission to change them by Dublin city council.

The move has sparked concern among some who say the revolving doors have become “part of the process of experiencing the hotel,” according to Donough Cahill, chief executive of the Irish Georgian Society. 

The planning application, however, shows the new doors will be in keeping with the original entrance when the hotel first opened in its current form in 1867.

An architect’s submission to the council as part of the planning application by the hotel states “the original doors [were] a pair of door leaves stretching up to the door head above”. 

It goes on to say the revolving door system was introduced some time in the mid-1900s and that the doors in place at the minute, soon to be removed, were installed in the 1980s and are less than 40 years old. 

Claims

In supporting documentation submitted with the application, the hotel said there are half a dozen personal injury claims pending against the hotel, as well as other reported incidents involving the doors. 

In a letter it said “there are six active insurance claims [and] a further 23 reported incidents”. 

The removal of a single curved step at the entrance would be “a welcome improvement from a safety standard now expected by current demand and standards” it added. 

In deciding to grant permission on the application, the planning authority said the owners, Kennedy Wilson, must involve a conservation expert to manage the changes and to protect the historic fabric of the hotel, and all original features should be protected. 

TheJournal.ie contacted Kennedy Wilson which declined to offer any information on the plans for the hotel. 

shelbroune application The Shelbourne as it appeared in the late 19th century, submitted in the planning application.

Speaking of the changes to the building, Fine Gael councillor Danny Byrne, who worked at the hotel in an event management role until last year said it was difficult to argue against changing the entrance as it is a “phenomenally busy hotel”. 

“I originally would not have been in favour of changing but looking from their side of the story in relation to the legal situation, it is difficult to argue against.

“It is such an iconic hotel and I was there recently when there was an older lady celebrating her birthday, so you do get older and infirm people going to it because of its history – it’s almost like a museum, an important part of Dublin. 

“But some people fly through them doors, they take on a life of their own and that’s potentially where you get issues.”

‘Character’

The hotel has 265 bedrooms, as well as leisure facilities, bars and restaurants. It also has several function rooms and is served by several hundred staff members. 

Donough Cahill, chief executive of the Irish Georgian Society (IGS) said the doors had become part of the overall experience for guests at the hotel. 

The IGS awarded the Shelbourne hotel an architectural conservation award in 2017.

“People will find that this was always a characteristic of the building of the Shelbourne and it was part of the process of experiencing the hotel.

“It will come down to good design now and I imagine… given the calibre of the Shelbourne hotel, any intervention of that nature would be done to a very high standard.”

Graeme McQueen of the Dublin Chamber also iterated the same concerns that any changes made should be in keeping with the “fabric” and “character” of the historic building. 

“It is important for Dublin to maintain as much character as possible but I think it highlights that buildings have got to be practical and they have got to make sense.”

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