In 19th-century Dublin, Albert Nobbs, an eccentric man in the latter part of middle age, works as a waiter in Morrison's Hotel run by stingy, controlling Marge Baker. Albert works hard and saves his money so that one day he will be able to eke out a better life for himself by running his own business rather than working at the hotel. Beyond his work colleagues he is all alone in the world. One day, Mrs. Baker hires a man named Hubert Page to paint one of the hotel rooms and forces him to share Albert's bed for the one night he is required to stay to complete the work, much to Albert's horror. Hubert discovers the reason Albert did not want to share a room with him, but rather than the issue being a problem, Hubert shows Albert that he can follow a slightly different life path than the one he envisioned for himself--one closer to the life that Hubert leads with his wife Cathleen, which includes getting married and having a wife to support him emotionally. Albert's choice of bride is his younger flirtatious co-worker Helen Dawes, who, unknown to Albert, is already in a sexual relationship with brusque, sly Joe Mackins, another co-worker recently arrived to Morrison's. As Albert, Helen, and Joe play their respective games of courtship, Albert might find that what seemed to come naturally to Hubert might be more difficult for him.