Sunday 28 December 2014

Ireland's most weird and wonderful Airbnb rentals...

Room in a castle or self-catering pub, anyone?

Published 25/06/2014 | 12:45

Martello Tower, Dalkey. Pic: Airbnb
Martello Tower, Dalkey. Pic: Airbnb
Martello Tower, Dalkey. Pic: Airbnb
Conroy's Bar, Co. Tipperary
Bookeen Hall, Athenry, Co. Galway
Eco-lodge, Airbnb.ie
Ballytarsna-Hackett Castle, Co. Tipperary
Ronan's Tree House, Kinvara, Co. Galway

From a self-catering pub to a sparkling Martello tower, Airbnb throws up all sorts of surprising accommodation options in Ireland. Here are six of the best.

Airbnb is an online community marketplace allowing guests book accommodation directly from hosts. Since its foundation in San Francisco in 2008, the company has grown to 190 countries... including Ireland.

Here are six weird and wonderful results from our searches.

Conroy's Old Bar, Aglish, Co. Tipperary

Conroy's Bar, Tipperary.jpg
What is it? A self-catering pub. No, seriously.

Tell me more: Conroy’s is fondly referred to as “the pub with no beer”. The self-catering accommodation sleeps up to four people in a converted village bar close to Terryglass on Lough Derg. The bar no longer holds a liquor license, but retains its old charm and character in details ranging from a polished mahogany bar to an open turf fire.

The room: A fully functioning kitchen has been fitted into the old boozer, and the lounge comes kitted out with all manner of pub games, books, maps and tourist information. The old snug next to the lounge is now a double bedroom with en-suite WC, and the former cellar/keg store houses a super king-sized bed.

Highlights: Although the beer pumps no longer dispense, guests can BYO and enjoy the old beer garden and BBQ areas with views over the Tipperary countryside.

We love: Conroy’s also offers a range of workshops in the stone buildings at the end of the garden. Spinning & weaving, dry stone walling and basket weaving are just three.

Worth noting: Small doorways mean this property may not be wheelchair-friendly.

Guests say: “What an experience! Sleeping in a pub! It was wonderful, kids were just so excited about it! The place is lovely very well organized and at the same time Erron and her husband managed the true spirit of an Irish pub inside...” - Emilie, Paris, France

Check in: www.airbnb.ie/rooms/1223481; from €100 per night

Martello Tower, Dalkey

martello 2.png
What is it?
A coastal defence tower, dating from 1804.

Tell me more: Some historic properties are fusty and cold. This one is kitted out to superb modern standards... judging from the stylish photos, at least. The coastal setting is the icing on the cake - you're spoiled for choice with restaurants in Dalkey.

The room: The Martello Tower has one bedroom, and one "real bed", according to its listing. No fakes, then.

Highlights: The photos are spectacular, with features including a decked, tower-top viewing area, slick stainless steel appliances, moody lighting, spiralling granite staircases and an in-room bathtub.

Worth noting: The tower is suitable for two people; no children are allowed.

Guests say: There are no reviews as yet on this property, but there are of another property by the same renter. “Make sure to budget a bit of extra cash for when you'll return home, because after such a great stay your other half will have lots of new ideas to decorate your own nest,” says one – Fabrice, Dublin.

Check in: www.airbnb.ie/rooms/4263088; from €450 per night.

Bookeen Hall, Athenry, Co. Galway

Bookeen, Athenry.jpg
What is it? A 200-year-old church.

Tell me more: Bookeen Hall is a former Church of Ireland Chapel built in 1808. Boasting a rectangular hall with large Gothic windows and a solid bell-tower visible across fields and woodland, It was deconsecrated in 1920 and converted into a two-bedroom home in 2008.

The room: A large, open-plan living /dining room and two bedrooms now occupy the interior, with the guest bedroom having access to its own bell tower/reading room. Views of the surrounding countryside are top-notch, and there’s a private bathroom with claw-foot tub.

Highlights: Bookeen Hall is situated on the edge of Dunsandle wood which has some great walking and running routes. It’s also just two minutes from the M6, and 25km from Galway. The best of a town and country break beckons, in other words.

Worth noting: “It’s also home to two dogs that can’t wait to meet you!”

Guests say: “The loveliest breakfast, chilled atmosphere, scenic surroundings and one incredibly soulful house! Makes for so many photo opportunities! Chris and Orla are very helpful and charismatic hosts...” – Julia, Ballybane, Galway

Check in: www.airbnb.ie/rooms/1141237; from €95 per night.

Eco Wooden House, Westport, Co. Mayo

westport, eco-lodge, airbnb.jpg
What is it? A cedar-clad four-bedroom house in West Mayo.

Tell me more: Boasting stunning views of Croagh Patrick and the Partry Hills, this bright and spacious eco-lodge is located close to Westport, Clew Bay and lots of sandy beaches.

The rooms: The house has four bedrooms (there's also a travel cot and fold out single futon bed in the living room), along with a modern kitchen, dining area with wood-fired Rayburn stove, a cosy sitting room with fireplace, a library and two modern bathrooms.

Highlights: There’s a large double bath in one of the bathrooms. Nab it!

Guests say: “Our stay in Dewi's house was just splendid. The house is a perfect example of harmonious symbiosis with nature and is fully equipped, including classic type oven and central heating...” – Nicholas, Dublin, Ireland

Check in: www.airbnb.ie/rooms/461957; from €129 per night

Ballytarsna-Hackett Castle, Co. Tipperary

castle, cashel.jpg 

What is it? A 15th century fortified tower house in the wilds of Tipperary.

Tell me more: Ballytarsna-Hackett Castle dates from 1480, when it was built for the Hackett family alongside an older 12th century castle. It fell to ruin in the 18th century, but has been lovingly restored, with the top floor now available to rent on a B&B basis through airbnb.ie. 

The room: The fifth floor offers spectacular views of the Tipperary countryside, including the Rock of Cashel. It's self-contained, with an ensuite bathroom, four-poster bed, small library, free-standing bath tub and 19th century armoire for your clothes.

We love: The castle has its own dungeon (“this grim feature hopefully will not be needed,” the owners say). One occupant has carved the year '1536' into the wall.

Worth noting: The guest floor is reached via 64 stone steps. There is no wheelchair accessibility, “and you should be fairly fit to make this climb”, the owners say. “We HIGHLY recommend that you do not try to drag large suitcases up the stairs.”

Guest feedback: “The castle is just beautiful... there are numerous stone stairs to get to the top floor, which is where the bedroom is located. However, after eating bangers and mash and having a Guinness, the climb is good for you...” – Paul, Fort McMurray, Canada

Check in: www.airbnb.ie/rooms/1140513; from €130 per night.

Ronan’s Tree House, Kinvara, Co. Galway

ronan's tree house.jpg
What is it?
A pyramid-shaped garden tree house.

Tell me more: “It's a bit like camping so be prepared for lots of early birds in the morning singing all around outside,” the owner of this unusual accommodation says. Around a mile from the Kinvara bus stop, it’s certainly a rustic introduction to the Wild Atlantic Way.

The room: Ronan’s Tree House contains one double futon. The guesthouse is available for cooking and dining... or guests can BBQ on the balcony if they wish.

Highlights: The Burren views.

Worth noting: The tree house has electricity, but lacks a cooker and the bathroom is contained within a candlelit sidehouse... albeit one with marble tiles.

Guests say: “Ronan's Tree House is essentially a "solid tent" constructed on an 8-10 foot high platform, with a door and a window. The whole thing is well sealed and was warm, dry, and comfortable, even though it rained during the night when we stayed there...” - William, Ontario, Canada

Check in: www.airbnb.ie/rooms/460973; from €20 per night

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