Ireland on Airbnb: From a castle to a hut
Website that hit headlines this week holds treasure trove of unusual accommodation
For a long time, it was the merely the choice of the savvy hipster. The easy, breezy, low-frills way of seeing the world - just you, a blow-up air mattress and a congenial fellow-hipster host who was happy enough to share their floor space in exchange for a small fee.
Then Airbnb hit the mainstream; it became part of the Silicon Valley set as well as the 'sharing economy' and started sending out professional photographers, free of charge, to shoot properties in order to give the website a slicker look.
It was billed as the travel revolution in our spare rooms. A way for home owners to get their properties working for them and a way for travellers to stay somewhere a little more exciting - or a little more cosy, depending on their preference.
Soon, Airbnb wasn't just for the hipsters any more; it was for the families, those in search of a little luxury and even the business traveller hankering after some home comfort not easily found in homogeneous hotel chains.
And the hosts changed too.
It was timed perfectly for the very height of the recession in Ireland and professionals, families and even the retired quickly got in on the act.
For the host, the only drawback is the enforced clutter-free living and the non-stop cleaning.
"The house has to be hotel-clean and that can be a challenge when you're living with young children," revealed one Airbnb host.
After the website hit the headlines over possible tax bills for hosts this week, we tried a little bit of enjoyable snooping into spare rooms on offer around the country.
The site reveals a virtual treasure trove of mouth-watering choices from a castle to a treehouse - and everything in between.
We uncovered a 200-year-old converted Church of Ireland chapel at Bookeen Hall in Athenry, Co Galway.
It boasts a rectangular hall with large Gothic windows and a solid bell-tower which is now converted to a reading room.
If that wasn't enough, the private bathroom has a claw-foot tub.
A steal at €100 a night, and previous guests have raved about the breakfast in this 'soulful' home.
In Castleknock, Dublin, an old-world converted stable boasts a sauna, an incredibly impressive indoor heated swimming pool - and a fun-loving family as hosts to boot. This costs €105 a night.
The Cuckoo Hexagon Wood property in Westport, Co Mayo is a "total dream", according to former guests.
It's basically a very fancy hut - albeit a cosy and comfortable one with a pot-bellied stove, for €75 a night.
And the hosts offer freshly made bread and newly laid eggs.
Or if you fancy loftier surroundings, Lisnavagh House in Co Carlow, where celebrity chef Donal Skehan had his wedding reception, is available for €1,000 a night. The gothic revival house has been in the same family for 11 generations and sleeps up to 14 guests.
Or who could resist a billing like the 'world's first self-catering pub'?
Near Borrisokane, Co Tipperary, the old bar has no drink and no licence but does have a turf fire, a working cash register - and good beds.
For €100 a night, sleeping the night away in a pub never sounded so appealing.-