If you're in the planning stages of your budget vacation, you might be wondering whether to choose between a bed and breakfast or Airbnb accommodation in Ireland?
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Indeed long before Airbnb was a popular brand, tourists to Ireland relied on the traditional bed and breakfast as their accommodation of choice.
But there are many different options these days and some of those can be confusing, never mind trying to figure out what offers the best value.
Much of it depends on personal choice, of course. However, there are some things you should take into consideration when planning your trip.
These days, bed and breakfast owners have a lot of competition from their rival Airbnb providers, and choosing accommodation based on either one can be daunting.
Here’s a look at what you can expect from both.
Hopefully, this can help you decide whether you should choose a bed and breakfast or Airbnb accommodation while on your budget vacation to Ireland.
Different Categories of “Bed and Breakfast”
Fáilte Ireland (pronounced “Fallcha”), the country’s tourism board, lists three different types of accommodation facilities under the category “Bed and Breakfast.”
They include townhouses, country houses, and farmhouses.
A townhouse can either be detached or semi-detached (known as a duplex here in the U.S.).
Fáilte Ireland considers a country home to be either a historic property, a modern bungalow in the country, or a traditional Irish home, also in a rural area.
At a farmhouse B&B, guests can see how an Irish farm works and participate in various activities.
The good news when it comes to B&Bs is that they must be approved by the agency before they can be part of what’s known as the Fáilte Ireland Irish Home Bed & Breakfast Approval and Classification scheme.
The agency ranks bed and breakfast accommodation, beginning with “approved” and working up to “five stars.”
B&B owners who are approved have the shamrock quality assurance sign proudly displayed outside their homes and in any promotional materials that they create.
Perks to Expect from an Irish B&B
To be approved as a bed and breakfast accommodation, an owner must have at least two and no more than six guest bedrooms.
There are additional guidelines that bed and breakfast owners must follow, including requirements for the kitchen area, dining room, living room, and bathroom facilities.
This also extends to the kinds of cooking-related equipment that the B&B owner uses, as well as bed linens and the quality of the beds.
In keeping with the traditional hospitality that tourists have come to love about Ireland over the years, Fáilte Ireland advises its B&B owners to offer guests refreshments upon arrival.
That usually includes tea or coffee, along with homemade scones, Irish soda bread, or some type of sweet cake.
That hospitality also extends to early morning calls, luggage assistance, and storage for guest valuables, in addition to providing guests with information on the surrounding area, including restaurants and tourist attractions.
Every B&B guest is entitled to a “full Irish breakfast,” although some bed and breakfast owners offer a continental-type breakfast, too.
No visit to Ireland is complete without the hearty fare that typically includes rashers (cured Irish bacon), sausages, black and white pudding, eggs, and tomatoes, not to mention a healthy dose of Irish soda bread.
B&Bs by the Numbers
As of 2022, BandBIreland estimated that there were approximately 700 registered B&Bs in ireland. That's a much lower figure than the 4,000 that were in operation in the late 1990s.
There are plenty of bed and breakfasts throughout Ireland, including Northern Ireland.
The average price of a nightly stay in an Irish B&B for two can go up to $200 per night but could be lower depending on location and time of year.
Airbnb in Ireland
The majority of the tourists staying in Airbnb accommodation in Ireland are from the U.S., with Irish people and visitors from the U.K, France, and Germany also using Airbnb as their choice of accommodation.
Compared to B&Bs, there are more choices when it comes to choosing an Airbnb accommodation. The fact that AirBnB chose Ireland as its corporate European headquarters in 2013 helped make it a leading choice for holiday makers visiting Ireland.
The Airbnb website also includes an “Experiences” feature that gives users an idea of the activities available close to their Airbnb accommodation.
A quick search of the County Galway Airbnb site section brings up experiences such as an oyster workshop and tasting session, as well as a baking class that teaches visitors how to bake Irish bread and other traditional Irish food.
In Dublin, you can get a real taste of Irish cooking with Eimhear in an experience titled, Bread, Bia and Beer.
Making a Comparison
Staying in a bed and breakfast or an Airbnb can offer you different experiences during your stay in Ireland. Here are some to think about.
Overall Experience/Customer Service – the personal touch that a bed and breakfast offers may be important to you, in addition to the added facilities that are available in an approved B&B.
When staying in an Airbnb, you'll likely not have any physical interaction with the owner, which can make the experience a little impersonal. If you're in an unfamiliar place, sometimes it's nice to get some good local knowledge from your host, which you'll definitely get if you stay in a B&B.
Cost – if the cost of the accommodation is your deciding factor, here are some quick stats.
As mentioned above, the cost of a B&B stay can be close to $200 per night per couple. However, you can get plenty of B&Bs for less than that. All prices are dependent upon the season.
There isn't much of a cost difference when renting accommodation through Airbnb, in my opinion. You can pay anywhere from $100 per night for two to over $200 per night. Again, it will depend upon location and time of year.
If you are really watching your budget, you can purchase food in local shops and cook it in your Airbnb (most of them will have kitchens).
However, many tourists don't want to be bothered cooking themselves and are only happy to avail of a full Irish breakfast that all B&Bs offer, many of which are cooked according to guests' dietary needs.
If you've been to Ireland, what kind of accommodation did you stay in? Let me know in the comments.