When planning your Ireland family vacation it's very easy to fall into what I call a ‘lodging rut'.
To put it simply, a ‘lodging rut' is when you think that your trip can have only one type of lodging, be it hotel, B&B, or self catering cottage.
Depending on the length of your trip, your budget, and how much area you plan to cover, you may be able to enjoy two or three different lodging types.
A Quick Guide to Ireland Lodging
Ireland has 6 main lodging options:
Bed and Breakfast You are a guest in a private home. Popular for the warm, personal welcome you receive, as well as the filling Irish breakfasts, included in your stay.
Hotels As in the US, hotels vary widely by brand, amenities, and cost. Do your homework and read reviews before you book.
Castle Hotels A worthwhile splurge! Castle stays in Ireland can include add-on activities on the ground like Hawk Walks, archery, horseback riding, and clay pigeon shooting. Many offer family activities and kids-only programs, allowing Mom & Dad a romantic evening.
Resort Hotels Filled with amenities! Expect a Kids Club, Leisure Centre (gym), Spa, and at least two restaurant options.
Hostel Not just a dorm room. Many hostels have private and family rooms. A community kitchen is always available; some hostels offer a complimentary Continental breakfast.
Self Catering Vacation Home A terrific option for families. Shop for and prepare your own meals. Dine at your leisure. No worries about other guests. A terrific chance to ‘live like a local'.
For more on choosing which lodging type is right for you, see the Quick Guide to Ireland Lodging.
Tips for Mixing & Matching Your Lodging in Ireland
While most Ireland vacation package deals don't offer the flexibility of varying your lodging, piecing together your own trip lets you choose where to stay, when.
After you have set the budget for your trip and decided on your ‘must see' sights, it's time to begin your lodging search. A few tips to help you mix & match your lodgings.
- Enjoy your first night in a B&B. After arriving at the airport, you've likely toured for a while before it's time to check in for the evening. The cead mile failte of a B&B, often accompanied by tea and warm scones, is a perfect welcome to Irish hospitality for the weary traveler. Be sure to chat with your host – they will never steer you wrong when it comes to what to see and do in the area!
- Don't save the castle stay for your final night. You've just spent a magical evening in an Irish castle! The last thing you want to do is rush to leave! Plan a leisurely departure this day. Perfect to pair with B&B, self catering & hostel stays.
- Hostels don't have to be just an overnight stopping point. Today's hostels can be just as comfortable as a B&B, but without the extra amenities that cost you more (think tea & scones on arrival and hot breakfast in the morning). Spend a few nights in a hostel so you can splurge in other areas of your vacation.
- Resort hotels have loads of amenities! But will you use them? Think about your family's plans when you book a resort hotel. Will you utilize the gym, spa, or kids club? If no, then why pay for them? Resort hotels are a terrific place to find package deals for 3+ night stays. These packages often include dinner, breakfast, and sometimes child care.
- Live like a local in a self catering cottage. Even if you dislike grocery shopping at home, you'll enjoy it in Ireland – the variety is just fabulous! Be sure to look at a map when booking your rental. Do you want in a town or outside a village? Most rentals are available for 3+ days, though some require a 7 day rental. Don't be afraid to book for 7 days and only stay 5 or 6 – you will still save money. If one of your day trips is a longer distance, plan to be away for a night. Just pack the things you will need for an overnight trip and off you go!
- Early departure flight? Some flights leave Ireland early – and with the lead time at the airport you have to be awake and out the door earlier than many B&Bs offer breakfast. Spend the night in a hotel near the airport. You should be able to grab a bit of breakfast without imposition and checkout is quick. Read hotel reviews and know that star ratings in Ireland differ from US ratings.
Example Mix & Match Lodging Itineraries
|7 Day Itinerary||10 Day Itinerary||14 Day Itinerary|
| Day 1 B&B
Day 2-5 Self catering
Day 6 Castle
Day 7 Hotel
| Day 1-2 B&B
Day 3-4 Hostel
Day 5 Castle
Day 6 & 7 Self Catering
Day 8 & 9 Resort Hotel
Day 10 Hotel
| Day 1 B&B
Day 2-8 Self catering
Day 9-10 Castle
Day 11-13 Resort hotel
Day 14 Hotel
Have you found yourself in a ‘lodging rut'? Would you do a varied lodging itinerary in Ireland?