Top 7 Types of Accommodation in Ireland

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Ireland has a plethora of accommodation options in both lush rural and historic urban locations that should suit your needs and budgets. Get to know the difference between the following types: hotels, bed and breakfasts (B&Bs), guesthouses, self-catering, hostels, camping and ‘unique experiences’. Plus Airbnb, of course. One caveat: Irish tourist accommodation has become much more expensive in the last couple of years, particularly in the cities. If your budget won’t stretch, but you are hiring a car, look at accommodation within driving distance of the major tourist centres.

1. Hotels: 1-5 star options

There are options at most budgets from historic country houses to signature city landmark hotels. The quintessential Irish experience is to stay in a castle hotel, which tend to be both historic and luxurious. However, there’s a lot of character family-run places that give a more intimate chatty vibe. Irish hotels are rated on a 1-5 star scale that lines up with a range of amenities and services that you might desire (the most at 5-star, of course). Keep an eye out in your search for spa resorts, access to a beach, family-friendliness, live music, or indeed quieter spots to provide a comfortable base to explore Ireland.

Photo: Patrick Hughes, Inishmore Island

2. Bed & Breakfasts (B&Bs): Truly Irish Hospitality

As a child, a holiday in Ireland meant a B&B, exciting because of the sheer variety of host homes and traditional breakfasts, close to landmarks. Staying at a B&B means staying in a private room, usually ensuite, in a family home. A B&B will serve you a traditional (hot) Irish breakfast that will set you up for your day. In the Republic of Ireland, they’re rated on a 2-5 scale and in Northern Ireland, B&Bs are inspected by the NI Tourist Board. A popular (and cost-efficient) choice.

3. Guesthouses: Smaller-scale hotels

Guesthouses in Ireland are rated on a 1-4 scale and offer a smaller-scale offering than a traditional hotel, with a more personal service. They can run from quite basic through to a boutique-feel. Popular with solo travellers, check out the guesthouse reviews to see if they can accommodate families. Generally a warm and friendly welcome, simply on a different scale.

4. Self-catering: Independent travel

If you prefer a bit of independence on the road, Irish self-catering places are a sensible choice. You’ll find options from old-school rustic cottages to modern apartments, allowing you to shop, cook and live like a local. Typically, a self-catering place is better for a longer stay, a family vacation or if you need to cook to manage dietary restrictions.

Photo: Patrick Hughes, Derrygimlagh

5. Youth Hostels: Budget-friendly & social

Youth hostels are perfect for travellers looking to save money and meet fellow nomads. Hostels can be one way to get around Ireland’s sometimes more expensive hotels! In general, Irish hostels have basic amenities and shared dormitories, but can be great fun and well-maintained. Dublin is seeing the growth of more modern hostels, which is great for the industry. Prices start around €20 per night in the most basic hostels, so an unbeatable option for backpackers.

Photo: Patrick Hughes, Loop Head Lighthouse

6. Camping: the Great Irish Outdoors

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, camping in Ireland is a must-try experience. I’ve stayed at most of the major campgrounds on the Wild Atlantic Way and the majority had something special: a great seaside vista, a mountain view or a forest setting. Camping is a unique way to connect with Ireland’s natural beauty and has a real sense of freedom, particularly as you don’t have to be quite so organised. On the downside is, of course, unpredictable weather, but if you’re ready to deal with that, camping opens up a great way to tour Ireland.

7. Unique Accommodations: Making memories

Because of our varied history, from the maritime to the medieval, Ireland has some pretty unique places to stay as a tourist. Imagine spending the night in a historical lighthouse, a medieval castle, or a barge rocking on a quiet river. You can find glamping pods, shepherds huts and forest hideaways that might make you believe you were in Game of Thrones!! Our more unique accommodation is a market that’s really developed in the past ten years and has made Ireland a more exciting place to visit, for making memories.

Booking Tips

I can’t say this enough: when planning your stay, remember to book in advance, especially during the peak summer months. Early booking can secure better rates and ensure availability, particularly for unique or high-end accommodations. In fact, there’s been a crunch on accommodation right throughout Ireland as our population has grown, which also has affected the hotel and guesthouse sector. Consider your itinerary, budget, desired comfort level, location, and the type of experience you wish to have when choosing your perfect Irish accommodation.

Ireland’s diverse range of lodging options means there’s something for every type of traveller. From luxury to outdoors enthusiast, castle or camping, I hope you’ll find that Ireland will welcome you with open arms and a comfortable spot to rest your head. Get ready to book your stay with what I hope you’ll find is helpful advice here on Planet Patrick and get ready for your Irish adventure!

I'm Patrick, your Irish guide to the skies and beyond. With 58 countries visited, my journeys have taken me from busy economy to fabulous first-class.

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