Are you looking for some ideas and inspiration on how to find great accommodation in Ireland in a handful of easy steps?
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If so, read on to discover a solution to what is perhaps the single most difficult part of vacation planning.
Before you book anything, you should be knowledgeable about the different kinds of accommodation available in Ireland.
According to Fáilte Ireland (pronounced “Fallcha”), the country’s tourism authority, there are several types of accommodation available to tourists visiting the Emerald Isle.
The list includes hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses (different in some ways from B&Bs), castles, country houses, self-catering accommodation, camping sites, glamping facilities, hostels, even lighthouses.
They all come with a different price tag, with much of it depending on location and the time of year you’re traveling to Ireland.
Here are 5 tips that will help you solve the problem of how to find great accommodation in Ireland.
Tip #1: Look for Bargains and Quality in Ireland’s Hotels
When considering hotel accommodation in Ireland, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
According to the Irish Hotels Federation, the national organization of the hotel and guesthouse sector in Ireland, there are approximately 1,000 hotels and guesthouses throughout the country.
Hotels on the island of Ireland are rated on a one to five-star scale.
This classification system may differ from similar ones in other countries, so bear that in mind.
Overall, however, Irish hotels are of high quality and have improved immensely over the years, with pretty much every modern convenience that you might be accustomed to in your home country.
The most expensive hotels are obviously rated 5-stars.
They include posh castles, country club-style hotels, and luxury city hotels.
Unless you are celebrating something really special, I’d book a hotel that is cheaper.
You don’t want to blow all your cash in one or two nights, especially if you are planning to stay in Ireland for two weeks or so.
Four-star hotels in Ireland are generally very nice and less expensive than a 5-star property. Some of them include charming period houses and hotels that have large suites.
Many of Ireland’s 3-star hotels include small family-run hotels as well as some larger city hotels.
Rooms usually include a private bathroom with a bath and/or shower. Most, if not all of them, have decent restaurants that serve food throughout the day.
A 2-star hotel in Ireland is likely to be a family-run business. Most guest rooms will have a private bathroom.
One-star hotel properties in Ireland will have basic, mandatory services and comfort up to a good standard. Not all hotels in this category will have private bathrooms.
Given the competitiveness of the hotel industry in Ireland, there’s a good chance that you can get some great deals in highly rated hotels if you do your research beforehand.
Like planning a vacation close to home or abroad, you should be looking at prices in advance and set up some kind of notification system that will alert you when deals are released.
Booking sites like Booking.com, one of my favorites, as well as Hotels.com, Priceline.com, Kayak, TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Trivago are all worth considering.
One smartphone app that I like is Hopper.
You can use it to search for hotels, car rentals, and flights. Once you have your specific preferences in place, the app will notify you when deals become available.
Check out some of these 3- and 4-star hotels in Ireland:
- Gleneagle Hotel & Apartments in Killarney
- The Connaught Hotel, Galway
- The Wyatt Hotel, Westport
- The Castle Hotel, Dublin
- McGettigan's Hotel, Letterkenny
- The Midleton Park Hotel, Cork
- The Great Southern Hotel, Sligo (dog-friendly)
Bottom line: if you are sightseeing in various parts of Ireland, you’ll want lodging that isn’t too expensive, yet provides all the basic comforts that you’d expect from a good hotel, as well as a decent breakfast.
If you are using public transportation, you'll want to book accommodation that is centrally located in the towns and cities you are interested in seeing.
Read More: Affordable Hotels and Guesthouses in Dublin: 8 You Should Know About
Tip #2: Consider Self-Catering Accommodation
Most people who visit Ireland for the first time think they can see the entire country in two weeks.
And while you can certainly pack a lot into that period of time, your vacation may seem a little rushed in the end.
The reason you’re taking a vacation is to relax, right?
With that in mind, one alternative is to opt for self-catering accommodation in a particular part of Ireland and use that as your base to explore other areas of Ireland that are close to it.
You’ll have to take care of your own meals, of course, but if your accommodation is close to shops, you can stock up on the essentials without much hassle.
Before you choose self-catering accommodation in Ireland, know what you want from a self-catered property.
Think about the number of bedrooms that will accommodate you and any family members who are traveling with you, its proximity to the beach or to a town or city, if that’s important to you, parking facilities, and any other practical matters.
If there are reviews available, be sure to read them.
In addition, clarify anything you might be unsure of with the owners before settling on the property.
Experience Ireland's Charming Country Homes on an Aer Lingus Vacation
Tip #3: Experience the Renowned Irish Hospitality in B&B Accommodation
When Americans first started visiting Ireland in the 1950s, they stayed primarily in guesthouses or as they are more commonly known, B&Bs.
Staying in a B&B was the perfect way to experience the hospitality of the Irish people, and that is still true today.
It’s not unusual to experience the warmth of a B&B host, many of whom are known to offer a welcoming cup of tea and a sweet treat to guests when they arrive.
While there are many other options available to the tourist, B&Bs have held their own in a competitive market.
And they have modernized greatly, too.
Gone are the days when you might have to share a bathroom in a B&B.
Most B&Bs today offer en-suite accommodation, which means a bathroom is part of the same set of rooms.
Fáilte Ireland lists three different types of “Bed and Breakfast” accommodation. They include townhouses, country houses, and farmhouses.
There are more than 3,000 B&Bs in Ireland, with about 1,000 of them Fáilte Ireland-approved.
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 can participate in various activities.
B&B owners who are approved by the tourism agency have the shamrock quality assurance sign proudly displayed outside their homes and in any promotional materials that they create.
There are a number of ways to find the right B&B.
You could use a booking site like Booking.com for example, or search B&B Ireland, which lists B&Bs on the entire island of Ireland (see the booking form below, which will take you to the website).
While there are B&Bs all over Ireland, including in rural and urban places, you’ll want to consider the location of the B&B before you book.
Are you interested in going to the pub to hear a traditional Irish music session? If so, a B&B located in a town close to pubs and shops would be ideal.
Accommodation outside of town will require one person in your party to abstain from alcohol as Ireland’s drinking and driving laws are very strict.
Alternatively, you could get a taxi back to your accommodation.
Uber does not operate in Ireland as it does in other countries. While you can use the app, you will essentially be getting a local taxi service instead.
Expect to pay between $100 and $120 per night (two people sharing a room) in a B&B in Ireland.
Of course, you’ll find cheaper B&Bs than that and more expensive ones. It all depends on your budget.
You’ll also find some B&B options on Airbnb such as Bookeen Hall in County Galway, which is housed in a restored old church.
No Irish B&B would be complete without offering the full Irish breakfast.
It’s become a staple of the B&B business in Ireland and in fact in other types of accommodation, too, including in Irish hotels.
Breakfast in an Irish B&B usually includes rashers, sausages, egg, black or white pudding, and of course Irish soda bread.
Be prepared to spend an hour over breakfast as socializing with your host and other guests is common.
Read More: Finding the Perfect B&B: How Much Can You Expect to Pay
Tip #4: Experience Ireland’s Coastline: Consider Staying in a Lighthouse
Many photographs of Ireland are taken close to the ocean, which is not surprising given that it is surrounded by over 1,450 km (900 miles) of dramatic coastline.
Indeed, many counties on the island of Ireland are home to some breathtaking coastal views, which makes staying in a lighthouse an alluring prospect.
The Wild Atlantic Way, which starts in Co. Donegal and ends in County Cork is a 2,500-km (1,600 miles) coastal route where you’ll find several of them.
Some of the best-known lighthouses along the Wild Atlantic Way include Fanad Lighthouse in Co. Donegal; St. John’s Point Lighthouse, also in Co. Donegal; Clare Island Lighthouse in Co. Mayo; Loop Head Lighthouse, Co. Clare; Valentia Island Lighthouse in Co. Kerry; Mizen Signal Station/Fastnet Lighthouse in Co. Cork, and the Old Head of Kinsale Lighthouse, also in Co. Cork.
On Ireland’s east coast, some of the popular lighthouses among tourists include Wicklow Head Lighthouse and Hook Lighthouse in Co. Wexford.
On Ireland’s northern coast, the Rathlin West Lighthouse on Rathlin Island is a popular tourist attraction, as is the Blackhead Lighthouse in Co. Antrim and St. John’s Point Lighthouse in Co. Down.
Many tourists arriving in Ireland might never think of staying in a lighthouse. In fact, some may not know that accommodation is even available in some of them.
Lighthouse tours and accommodation is a relatively new addition to tourism offerings in Ireland. It is all available thanks to the EU-funded Great Lighthouses of Ireland, a project that was launched in 2015.
If you’re captivated by the intrigue and magical mystery of lighthouses, then you should treat yourself to a stay in one.
Rates are surprisingly reasonable.
You can book your stay through a number of booking sites or you can go directly to the various lighthouse websites.
Read more: 6 of Ireland's Coolest Lighthouses (You Can Actually Stay in Some of Them!)
Tip #5: Glamping: Getting Up Close to Ireland’s Beauty
If you’ve always shied away from camping, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that glamping is not camping.
In Ireland, there’s a growing number of glamping sites available to tourists. They include everything from pods to cubes, bubble domes, tents, treehouses, yurts, vintage caravans, and shepherd huts.
The cost to go glamping in Ireland is varied and really depends on the amount of luxury you’re looking for in an outdoor setting.
It is a different experience from camping and as such, will cost more. However, as you’ll see from some of the examples below, it’s an experience that you won’t easily forget.
To guarantee that your glamping getaway is a success, make sure that you know exactly what the glamping facility provides.
Some come with kitchens while others require you to cook outdoors, so be sure to check that out before booking. Be sure to also pack suitable clothing and footwear for your adventure.
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Here are some of the more popular glamping sites in Ireland.
Aran Islands Glamping– no special preparation is needed when staying at this glamping site, which is literally a stone’s throw from the beach on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands.
The site offers two different types of glamping accommodation.
One is called the “Tigin,” which holds up to six people and includes a mini kitchen, a separate shower room, and a bathroom. The other, known as the ”Clochan,” accommodates up to four people and also includes similar amenities.
Prices during the peak season are around €150 per night at the Clochan and €160 per night at the Tigin. Both are self-catering.
Teapot Lane Glamping – if you’re looking for a quirky, magical place to spend a couple of nights, then this glamping site in Co. Leitrim will be right up your alley.
At Teapot Lane Glamping, you’ll find a cozy cottage, a vintage caravan, a treehouse, and a yurt to satisfy your glamping urge.
The site’s facilities include a communal kitchen, a campfire, a woodland shelter, communal gas barbeques, and communal shower facilities for those staying in the caravan or the yurt.
Prices vary, depending on which facility you stay in but the average for a two-night stay at Teapot Lane Glamping is around €400/$408.
Nire Valley Glamping – with views of the beautiful Comeragh mountains from a sun deck that’s attached to a renovated lorry (truck), this glamping spot in Co. Waterford is the ideal escape from reality.
The lorry includes a refrigerator, a 3-ring gas hob, a sink with a cold-water supply, a wood-burning stove with a supply of logs, and much more.
This glamping site is an ideal base from which to explore the surrounding area. It is particularly suited to walkers and serious hikers.
Rates per night start at €100. A bell tent is also available at €90 per night. A hamper breakfast is included.
Belmullet Coast Guard Station Glamping Luxury Pods – don’t let the “luxury” in this glamping spot throw you off. It’s actually quite an affordable place to stay (rates start at €120 /$122 per night for a minimum 2-night stay). And oh, so cool.
The pods are located on an island off the Mayo coast called Claggan Island, which is located in Blacksod Bay. It is approximately 12 km (7 miles) from Belmullet.
The pods sleep up to 4 adults and are equipped with comfortable beds, couches, and toilets.
Kitchen and shower facilities are in a nearby converted barn.
An area next to the pods is perfect for outdoor dining.
Glamping Under the Stars – this Co. Laois glamping haven is only an hour’s drive from Dublin.
The family-owned site offers accommodation in a number of quirky hobbit houses. which are located in the “Mountain Under the Stars” glamping site.
Each hobbit house sleeps a family of up to six people and includes a private bathroom, garden, picnic bench, and chimney stove for toasting marshmallows. Gas-powered barbecues are available as well.
The site is close to Abbeyleix and Portlaoise. Tourist attractions in the area include The Rock of Dunamase, Birr Castle, and more.
Guests must stay for a minimum of two nights at a rate of around €450 in total (around $459).
Let me know if the information posted above has helped you in your research on how to find great accommodation in Ireland.