The five-star Merrion Hotel in Dublin 2 is looking at building accommodation for staff close to the building, against a backdrop of soaring rents and constrained supply that are making it increasingly difficult for some of its employees to afford to live in the city.
The hotel’s general manager Peter MacCann told The Irish Times that it is “looking” at building the accommodation at the rear of a property that it owns on Merrion Square, along with other options. This would be used to house staff on low and middle incomes who are finding it difficult to source rental accommodation in the city.
“People on salaries that range from let’s say €13 to €18 an hour, can’t really afford accommodation in the city centre,” he said. “So they’re forced out to Bettystown [in Meath], Gorey [in Wicklow] and all over the place. Commute times and public transport availability for shift work in a place like this just doesn’t work.
“We’ve looked at whether we should take a house in Bray and buy a bus and run our own shuttle service. We’ve looked at houses in west Dublin, we’ve looked at houses in Meath. We currently have four staff houses in the city that we are renting that we subsidise. You ask any hotel and we’re all going into the property business because we need to find places for people to stay so they can come to work.”
The adjacent property is located at 80 Merrion Square, the former FAI headquarters that is now used as the Slovakian embassy. Mr MacCann said there was a possibility of using the “back end” of that building for the accommodation but acknowledged that it was a narrow site and “building there would be very difficult and expensive”.
Mr MacCann said some 22 staff are using subsidised accommodation in the city at present. “Pressure on the availability of accommodation for people on middle to low salaries is really bad,” he said, adding that people from abroad who come here to work at the hotel can find it particularly difficult to source affordable housing on arriving in the city.
The average asking price for rent nationally between July and September this year was €1,698 per month, up 4.3 per cent on the second quarter of 2022, according to an analysis by property website Daft.ie.
In Dublin, market rents rose by 14.3 per cent year on year to average €2,258 in the third quarter. Daft said there were just 1,087 homes available to rent on its website on November 1st, down about 25 per cent on the same date last year.
The Merrion employs just under 400 staff. The five-star hotel opened in 1997 and has 123 rooms and 19 suites.
The Merrion’s shareholders comprise the Hastings hotel group in Northern Ireland (which has a 50 per cent stake), with the balance jointly owned by Glen Dimplex chairman Martin Naughton, and the family of businessman Lochlann Quinn.