Lonely Planet Writer

Is it a pub, is it a café? No, Dublin’s latest venue is a ‘time house’ and visitors love it

It’s not a pub and it’s not a café, but it offers relaxation, unlimited tea and coffee and Wi-Fi. Owners Ciaran Hogan and his wife Olga describe their Dublin city centre venue as a ‘time house’ and it’s proving very popular with visitors to the city.

The entrance to the Clockwork Door in Dublin.
The Clockwork Door in Dublin. Image by The Clockwork Door

Guests at the Clockwork Door pay by the minute for somewhere to relax in the heart of Temple Bar, Dublin’s vibrant cultural quarter. Opened last September, it is accessible via a bright orange door to the left of Merchant’s Arch.  Inside are six rooms, including a kitchen, a games room and a quiet room for study.

The teddy bear lounge in the Clockwork Door.
The teddy bear lounge in the Clockwork Door. Image by The Clockwork Door

Inspired by his travels, Ciaran says the Clockwork Door is a combination of the friendly environment of a hostel common room “where random strangers meet and start chatting”, and Russian café culture, where you buy time and the tea is free.

“After a day of running around the city, you may be shopping, you may be sightseeing. Sometimes people just want to drop their bags for a little while, rest, recuperate and see where they’re going next,” Ciaran says.

A jar of hot chocolate and jars of biscuits
Free hot drinks are always available. Image by The Clockwork Door

The cosy room with its comfy couches and teddies is a favourite of Pamela Raczynska, from Poland, who comes here to chill out after a day’s work at Dublin-based Babylon Radio, with her friends Deborah, from Germany, and Kit, from Thailand. The Clockwork Door gives an alternative option to the pub. It holds regular events, including a pub-less quiz, “a pub quiz without the pub”, and the occasional variety show and interactive cinema club.

Ruth Doris