Lough Eske Castle, Dnegal, Ireland

Best Places to Stay in Ireland: Lodging Advice for Your Vacation

Ireland vacation lodging is as varied as the landscape. From hostels within a national park to castles fit for royalty; Ireland offers accommodation options for everyone from budget to luxury travelers.

Most Ireland travelers find themselves somewhere in between the two extremes and choosing the best places to stay in Ireland is based on your vacation dreams, your planned itinerary, and your budget.

Tips for Finding Accommodations in Ireland

You won't find many large hotel chains in Ireland. Most accommodations are independently owned and family run, though some may belong to larger associations like Blue Book, Original Irish Hotels, and B&B Ireland, to assist with promotion.

Looking for recommended accommodations in a specific location?
Search by county here!

Choosing a Hotel in Ireland

Room at The Morgan Hotel Dublin
I loved my room at The Morgan Hotel in Dublin's city centre

The first thing to realize is that the hotel star-rating system is completely subjective.  A 3 star hotel in Ireland may be closer to a 2 star hotel in the US, but a 5-star hotel is a 5 star hotel the world over. 

Choose a hotel stay for the experience.  Be it a central location, incredible pampering, the chance to sleep like royalty, or hundreds of acres of land with adventures galore, choose your hotel based on more than the room.

Read the hotel website so you know what is- and is not- included in your stay.  And if you are not clear on something, send an email and inquire before you book.

Check Out Ireland's Best Hotels – City by City

Ireland Hotel Tips

  • In my experience, 3-star and lower hotels can leave you regretting your choice of lodging.  Yes, you pay more for that extra star or two, but it is well worth it.
  • Be sure of check in and check out times – especially at your first hotel.
  • Check the amenities.  Do you want breakfast included? Make sure your room rate includes it.
  • If you choose your hotel because it has a pool, know that bathing caps (and sometimes pool shoes) are required and children may only be allowed in pools at approved times.
  • Check the availability of the creche or kids club if you plan to use it.  Some are only open during high season or holiday weekends.
  • If you're staying in a city, check the map for nearby public transportation.  How far will you have to walk to catch a bus or train?  If you have a rental car how much will it cost to park (and would you be better off picking up the rental as you leave the city?)

Stay in an Irish Castle

Lough Eske Castle, Donegal, Ireland
Lough Eske Castle is a peaceful and quiet retreat in Donegal

It's definitely a splurge, but one you won't forget! Ireland is dotted with castle hotels and country houses. Ashford Castle has been named ‘Best in the World' by Travel & Leisure multiple times.

Lough Eske Castle, Adare Manor, Dromoland Castle, Ballynahinch Castle, and Clontarf Castle are only a few of the dozen castle hotels in Ireland.

But all castle hotels aren't created equal, so be sure to do your homework when booking!

Some hotels include the word castle due to their proximity to a local ruin. Others may have a few rooms in the castle while another nearby building provides more lodging. Know what you're getting before hitting the reservation button!

Ireland's Best Castle Hotels (note- not all are castles!)

For a truly royal experience consider renting a private castle, like Knappogue Castle in County Clare or Bansha Castle in County Tipperary.

Staying in an Irish Bed and Breakfast

Caed mile failte at The Old Bank in Bruff, County Limerick. Irish B&B | Ireland vacation lodging | IrelandFamilyVacations.com
Caed mile failte at The Old Bank in Bruff, County Limerick.

I do love a great Irish Bed & Breakfast.  In a B&B the céad míle fáilte (hundred thousand welcomes) is evident the moment you walk in the door. 

My first trip to Ireland, solo, I entered a B&B near Shannon.  My hostess took one look at my cold, wet self -it was November and I'd come from the Cliffs of Moher- took me straight to my room, started to draw a hot bath and delivered tea and biscuits a few moments later.  No matter how nice a hotel, you don't get that kind of service.

No two Bed & Breakfasts are alike.  One may be in a fabulous manor house, while another may be purpose built with spacious rooms and ensuite baths, and yet another may be an expanded family home with cozy rooms. 

But they all have one thing in common- a personal touch that can make your Ireland vacation magical.  Not only is the B&B owner your host, they are also your tour guide, restaurant critic and insider into local activities. 

Ireland Bed & Breakfast Tips

  • Do your research before booking your room.  Traveling as a family? Make sure the house accepts children; some have age limits.  Family rooms are becoming more prevalent in Irish B&Bs.  
  • Do you want to enjoy the pubs after the kids are asleep?  Some B&Bs offer child care, or can help arrange child care, for an extra fee.
  • Take the time to talk with your hosts.  Ask about their favorite sights nearby, their favorite restaurants, hidden spots.  This is the best advice you'll get!
  • Don't forget to say ‘thank you'.  While the B&B may be a business, it is also a home and you are a guest.  A little politeness goes a long way.

Ireland Vacation Rentals & Self Catering Cottages

The massive stone fireplace is the central focus in the living area in the Woodland Lodges at Mount Falcon Estate in County Mayo. 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, perfect for Ireland family vacations.
The living area in the Woodland Lodge at Mount Falcon in County Mayo

A terrific option for large families or a tight budget is to rent a self catering cottage or vacation home. 

Choose a house that is centrally located to the places you plan to visit and activities you want to pursue.  Then plan day trips from your Irish ‘home away from home'.

The most enjoyable part of renting holiday homes in Ireland is feeling like part of the community.  You'll experience things you might normally miss- like grocery shopping, relaxing is “your own” garden and trying your hand at cooking Irish cuisine.

We love self catering stays for the large amount of space and the ability to truly relax without worry of bothering other guests. 

Ireland Vacation Home Tips

  • Be sure to read the fine print. Some Ireland vacation rentals may only rent by the week, while others will allow for shorter rental periods.
  • For families who like their space and don't want to worry about disturbing others, a vacation rental is the perfect lodging.
  • Some luxury and castle hotels offer vacation rentals on their properties. This is a fabulous way to enjoy the luxury amenities (like spas, activities and dining) while having more room and (often) spending less.
  • Ask the owner for tips on day trips, shopping, good pubs and nearby events before you go.
  • Be aware that electricity is wired differently in Ireland and heat may come from a fireplace.  Ask about these things- and know how to handle them when you arrive.
  • When using owner direct companies like Sykes Cottages, Air B&B, Rural Retreats, VRBO, and Home Away be sure to read terms and testimonials carefully and know that if a last minute cancellation occurs (and they do) you will not have much help finding new lodging. Never send cash or travelers checks; always do business within the company website to receive all coverages and assistance if anything goes awry.
  • Get tips for using AirBnB in Ireland here.

Hostels in Ireland

Luxury Pod at Top of the Rock Pod Pairc, West Cork, Ireland. Camping in Ireland | Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation | IrelandFamilyVacations.com

All hostels are not created equal. If you're on a budget you'll find many hostels that offer private and family rooms, linens, and very comfortable common areas.

Check out UniqueIrishHostels.com for a great list of Irish hostels.

Ireland Hostel Tips

  • Read room descriptions carefully. Be sure to check if linens are provided! If you have questions send an email.
  • Inquire about large group policies. If the hostel allows ‘hen and stag' parties steer clear if you have kids or prefer quiet evenings.
  • Know where the hostel is located. Some hostels can be remote so they may be difficult to reach if you don't have transportation.
  • Hostels are not for everyone. Read reviews carefully, knowing that all budget travelers aren't created equal.

Other Types of Accommodations

This is by no means an exhaustive listing of places to stay when visiting Ireland.

Camping, glamping, farm stays, and retreats can also be found across the country.

Where will you stay in Ireland?  Depending on the length of your trip you may be able to experience all of them!

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Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, County Waterford
Jody Halsted
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  5. Great tips! We’re looking at lodging options for June now!

  6. In Kilkenny, we had a great stay at Alcantra B&B – the hostess was very warm and helpful, and her homemade jams were dreamy!

  7. I thought of another couple from previous trips: In Dublin, it’s hard to find a good value place to stay. We enjoyed our stay in O’Neill’s Victorian Pub (there are two O’Neill’s, so be careful). It was on the noisy side, as the traffic outside never really stopped, and there’s a nearby train, but the room was HUGE (triple) with high, Victorian ceilings. The food downstairs was decent, as was the breakfast. It was a good value at £110 per night for all three of us, and within walking distance of Grafton Street.

  8. From all over – Cushendall, NI, Riverside B&B. Great hosts, he has lovely stories of his time as a merchant marine and about the surrounding glens. Clean, modern decor, great location. In Ardara, Donegal – Bayview Country House. Huge rooms, great views of the mountains on one side and about a half mile into downtown. In Inis Mor, Man of Aran Cottage B&B – Maura and Joe are fantastic hosts, and welcome you with a cup of tea. Odonnabhains Kenmare – Gerry and Vanessa run a class place, and plenty of room in the rooms. Downstairs is the gastropub, all right in the centre of town.

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