From basic hostels to five-star hotels, you'll find every range of accommodation in Ireland. Advance bookings are generally recommended and an absolute necessity during the busy holiday period.
- Hotels From chain hotels with comfortable digs to Norman castles with rainfall shower rooms 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 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. 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 bigger – the Irish equivalent of a boutique hotel. Facilities are usually better and sometimes include a restaurant.
- 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 have facilities; 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 only operate 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.
An alternative to normal caravanning is to hire a horse-drawn caravan with which to wander the countryside. In high season you can hire one for around €850 a week. Search Fáilte Ireland's www.discoverireland.ie for a list of operators, or see www.irishhorsedrawncaravans.com.
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.
Yet another option is to hire a boat, which you can live aboard while cruising Ireland's inland waterways. One company offering boats for hire on the Shannon-Erne Waterway is Emerald Star.
Prices quoted for hostel accommodation apply to those aged over 18. A high-season dorm bed generally costs €12 to €25 (£10 to £18). 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 range from the local pub to medieval castles. 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 recent trend toward soffering free wi-fi is stubbornly resisted by many, who still charge for the privilege.
House swapping can be a popular and affordable way to visit a country and 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 owner's 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 over 60 years.
Intervac International Holiday Service (www.intervac-homeexchange.com) Long-established, with agents in 45 nations worldwide.
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 at its website.