Pembroke Townhouse Dublin
Pembroke Townhouse Dublin

Bed and Breakfast or Airbnb Accommodation in Ireland: Which Offers the Best Value?

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?

Bed and Breakfast or Airbnb Accommodation in Ireland.This post contains affiliate links that when clicked, will not incur any cost on you, the reader. 

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.).

Gort na Mona B&B in Ardara, Co. Donegal. Photo: Brian Morrison, Tourism Ireland.
Gort na Mona B&B in Ardara, Co. Donegal. Photo: Brian Morrison, Tourism Ireland.

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.

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Perks to Expect from an Irish B&B

b&b or airbnb
A sign advertising The Slieve Bloom B&B in Co. Offaly. Photo courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

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.

A full Irish breakfast is a staple at most Irish hotels and B&Bs. Photo: Getty Images.
A full Irish breakfast is a staple at most Irish hotels and B&Bs. Photo: Getty Images.

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, B&B Ireland 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.

Before the pandemic, two in five rooms in B&Bs were occupied by tourists visiting the Wild Atlantic Way, a 2,500-kilometer (1,500 miles) coastal route that begins in Donegal and ends in County Cork.

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.

a lighthouse planning a itinerary for travel to Ireland'
Sunset at Fanad Lighthouse in Co. Donegal. Fanad Lighthouse also offers accommodation for visitors interested in exploring the surrounding area. Photo: Fearghus Foyle, Failte Ireland.

Compared to B&Bs, there are more choices when it comes to choosing an Airbnb accommodation.

You can stay in a wide variety of Airbnbs, from lighthouses to Georgian-style apartments in the heart of Dublin, to homes with cliffside views, and even rooms in an Irish castle.

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Airbnb “Experiences”

The Airbnb website also includes an “Experiences” feature that gives users an idea of the activities available close to their Airbnb accommodation.

a woman serving good bed and breakfast or Airbnb
Airbnb host Eimhear shows serves up Irish stew during the Bread, Beer & Bia Airbnb Experience class in Dublin. Photo courtesy of Airbnb.

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.

Surfing at Strandhill. Photo courtesy of Brian Morrison for Tourism Ireland.
Surfing at Strandhill. Photo courtesy of Brian Morrison for Tourism Ireland.

In County Sligo, tourists might be interested in a surfing experience, while in Dingle, County Kerry, a rowing lesson in a traditional “naomhog” (pronounced “naveog”) awaits the adventurous tourist.

In Dublin, you can get a real taste of Irish cooking with Eimhear in an experience titled, Bread, Bia and Beer.

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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.

bags with euro and dollar sign on them bed and breakfast or Airbnb
Photo: twenty20photos

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 B&Bs for less than that. All prices are dependent upon the season and the location of the B&B.

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.

a woman making a salad Bed and breakfast or Airbnb
Photo: NomadSoul1

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.


Colette is a County Sligo native who created Ireland on a Budget to provide her readers with money-saving tips on how to get to Ireland and then save even more when they're there. She's a professional copywriter who lives in the New York area with her husband and two children.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Avatar for Morgan Jarema
    Morgan Jarema

    My husband and I have been to Ireland 4 times since 2004, and are planning our fifth visit sometime within the next year. We would absolutely not stay in an AirBnb in Ireland, and are making every effort to avoid them in other countries unless they are occupied by the owners. We’ve seen how short term rentals have devastated the housing stock for native residents across the globe, and do not want to contribute to diluting the uniqueness of the areas we travel to for just that reason. Traditional B&Bs or locally owned, independent hotels are a must in Ireland!

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