One More Thing: Gibson thinks outside the jocks

There's something wonderfully strange going on down at the Gibson hotel, located near the O2 theatre in Dublin's docklands.

The 252-bedroomed luxury property was built by Harry Crosbie, whose assets are now in the control of Nama.

It is operated by Frankie Whelehan’s Choice hotel group.

This month marks the end of the first year in charge for Aidan McLaughlin, the hotel’s Belfast-born general manager. And what a zany year it has been. Hotel GMs are usually prissy types, but McLaughlin has a rather more colourful style.


His last wheeze was to buy an old van to promote the hotel, which he named the Pee Wee. It was kitted out during the summer in Dixieland style, and did the rounds of the summer music festivals selling Creole food.

The Gibson also recently held an exhibition of vintage hoovers: “The hotel sucks, but in a good way,” was the tagline. Whose idea was that? “Mine,” said McLaughlin. “It took people back to their childhood.”

Another of his ideas was to open a Speedo Lounge on the hotel’s rooftop. Yes, that’s a bar where everybody is encouraged to wear only the swimming jocks favoured by continental beach types, and almost nobody else.

The hotel is also about to launch a new marketing event. It has agreed to give an as-of-yet unnamed local artist a two-month residency. He gets free food and board, but there’ll be a webcam in the bedroom where he paints.

“We’ll have a big art sale when he’s finished,” said McLaughlin.

There is a nascent recovery underway in the Dublin hotel scene. McLaughlin reckons he will operate at over 90 per cent occupancy this month, and revenue per available room has climbed 10 per cent.

“We are trying to promote the hotel with things that don’t cost a lot of money. You could do the usual stuff, but that doesn’t get noticed,” said McLaughlin.

Just be careful if you go up to the Speedo Lounge. You probably don’t want to be noticed up there.