Ireland in detail

Sleeping

From basic hostels to five-star hotels, you'll find every kind of accommodation in Ireland. Advance bookings are generally recommended and an absolute necessity during the July-August holiday period.

  • Hotels From chain hotels with comfortable digs to Norman castles with rainfall showers and wi-fi – with prices to match.
  • B&Bs From a bedroom in a private home to a luxurious Georgian townhouse, the ubiquitous B&B is the bedrock of Irish accommodation.
  • Hostels Every major town and city has a selection of hostels, with clean dorms and wi-fi – some have laundry and kitchen facilities.

B&Bs & Guesthouses

Bed and breakfasts are small, family-run houses, farmhouses and period country houses, generally with fewer than five bedrooms. Standards vary enormously, but most have some bedrooms with private bathroom at a cost of roughly €40 to €60 (£35 to £50) per person per night (at least €100 in Dublin). In luxurious B&Bs, expect to pay €70 (£60) or more per person. Off-season rates – usually October through to March – are usually lower, as are midweek prices.

Guesthouses are like upmarket B&Bs, but a bit bigger. Facilities are usually better and sometimes include a restaurant.

Other tips:

  • Facilities in B&Bs range from basic (bed, bathroom, kettle, TV) to beatific (whirlpool baths, rainforest showers) as you go up in price. Wi-fi is standard and most have parking (but check).
  • Most B&Bs take credit cards, but the occasional rural one might not; check when you book.
  • Advance reservations are strongly recommended, especially in peak season (June to September).
  • Some B&Bs and guesthouses in more remote regions may only be open from Easter to September or other months.
  • If full, B&B owners may recommend another house in the area (possibly a private house taking occasional guests, not in tourist listings).
  • To make prices more competitive at some B&Bs, breakfast may be optional.

Camping, Caravan Parks & Canals

Camping and caravan parks aren't as common in Ireland as they are elsewhere in Europe. Some hostels have camping space for tents and also offer house facilities, which makes them better value than the main camping grounds. At commercial parks the cost is typically somewhere between €15 and €25 (£12 to £20) for a tent and two people. Prices given for campsites are for two people unless stated otherwise. Caravan sites cost around €20 to €30 (£17 to £25). Most parks are open only from Easter to the end of September or October.

Alternative forms of mobile accommodation include the following:

  • Horse-drawn Caravan In high season you can hire a traditional horse-drawn caravan for around €690 for three nights. Search the Fáilte Ireland website for 'horse drawn caravan', or see www.irishhorsedrawncaravans.com.
  • Canal Barge Another unhurried and pleasurable way to see the countryside (with slightly less maintenance) is by barge on one of the country's canal systems. Contact Fáilte Ireland for a list of rental companies.
  • Cabin Cruiser Yet another option is to hire a motorboat, which you can live aboard while cruising Ireland's inland waterways. One of several companies offering boats for hire on the Shannon-Erne Waterway is Emerald Star.

Hostels

Prices quoted for hostel accommodation apply to those aged over 18. A high-season dorm bed generally costs €12 to €25, or €18 to €30 in Dublin (£15 to £20 in Northern Ireland). Many hostels now have family and double rooms.

Relevant hostel associations:

An Óige (www.anoige.ie) HI-associated national organisation with 26 hostels scattered around the Republic.

HINI (www.hini.org.uk) HI-associated organisation with five hostels in Northern Ireland.

Independent Holiday Hostels of Ireland (www.hostels-ireland.com) Fifty-five tourist-board-approved hostels throughout all of Ireland.

Independent Hostel Owners of Ireland (www.independenthostelsireland.com) Independent hostelling association.

Hotels

Hotels range from the local pub to a medieval castle. Booking online or negotiating directly will almost always net you a better rate than the published one, especially out of season or midweek (except for business hotels, which offer cheaper weekend rates).

The bulk of the country's hotels are of the midrange variety, with clean rooms and a range of facilities, from restaurants to gyms. The trend towards offering free wi-fi is stubbornly resisted by many – usually more expensive hotels – that still charge for the privilege.

House Swapping

House swapping can be a popular and affordable way to enjoy a real home away from home. There are several agencies in Ireland that, for an annual fee, facilitate international swaps. The fee pays for access to a website and a book giving house descriptions, photographs and the owners' details. After that it's up to you to make arrangements. Use of the family car is sometimes included.

Homelink International House Exchange (www.homelink.ie) Home exchange service running for more than 60 years.

Intervac International Holiday Service (www.intervac-homeexchange.com) Long-established, with agents all over the world.

Rental Accommodation

Self-catering accommodation is often rented on a weekly basis and usually means an apartment, house or cottage where you look after yourself. The rates vary from one region and season to another. Fáilte Ireland publishes a guide for registered self-catering accommodation; you can check listings on its website.