Looking for a self-catering holiday with all the creature comforts of a hotel resort? We round up the best hotel breaks for your family ‘bubble’ not just for summer, but the whole year
So we’ve been given the green light to holiday at home this summer.
Despite missing the foreign fly-and-flop, piling everyone in the car is a relatively stress-free way to reboot the family — offering time outside, good food, activities and uninterrupted quality time with each other.
Self-catering is top of many wish lists; others prefer to have the pool, spa, service and luxuries of a hotel to hand. One way to get the best of both worlds is to book a hotel with self-catering lodges or apartments on resort.
Ireland’s hotels and country houses are now busy preparing for lift-off, with many of them bringing a fresh focus on self-contained accommodation. The best ones tie together the independence and flexibility of your own holiday base with the terms of the creature comforts of a hotel.
Here’s our pick of some of the best.
Where: Sneem, Co Kerry
Best for: Families with kids of all ages
Much of Parknasilla’s appeal lies in its breadth of activities and facilities. Boredom isn’t an option here, with a beachy cove, horse riding, tennis, fishing, golf, eco-tours, treasure trails for kids, sea kayaking and a fantastic spa just some of the treats to hand. There’s a “hideout” for bigger kids, and mini explorers will love learning about the dark sky reserve on a nightly Astro walk. Guests staying in one of the 38 luxury lodges and villas have access to the resort restaurant, spa, indoor pool and outdoor hot tubs, and the recent addition of the Tram street-food trailer means you can order takeaway to your lodge. Villas aren’t pet-friendly, but there are 10 boarding kennels that can be booked in advance for a nominal fee.
Details: €250 per lodge per night (June-Aug), €195 (Sept-Oct). Breakfast not included. parknasillaresort.com
If you like this, try… A regular on the ‘Best hotel in Europe’ lists, Sheen Falls Lodge on Kenmare Bay is the ultimate country estate escape. sheenfallslodge.ie
Where: Fota, Co Cork
Best for: A multi-generational escape
If the zoo next door isn’t enough of a reason to pile everyone in the car, then the kids’ club, playgrounds, adventure centre, tennis courts, football pitch, gyms, pool and golf course — home to Padraig Harrington’s “favourite par five” — might just swing it. The residential lodges here rival any swish family home, with a full sweep of mod-cons, plush living areas, ensuite bedrooms and a fully-stocked kitchen (you won’t be ringing the hotel looking for a wine opener, in other words). Order an artisan hamper for your arrival and savour some local produce. After a day swimming, exploring the 100-acre estate, a family golf lesson or feeding the giraffes next door, you’ll find yourself booking a return trip before you leave.
Details: A three-night stay for a family of four in the lodges starts from €735. fotaisland.ie
If you like this, try… Nearby Castlemartyr has wide appeal with bikes, pool, spa, golf and lodges dotted among the wooded estate. castlemartyrresort.ie
Where: Castlerea, Co Roscommon
Best for: History buffs, countryside nesting
Kick back with all the ingredients for a lazy weekend in the country: roaring turf fires, rolling parkland and plenty of curious history to boot. Now home to the 27th generation of O’Connors — the last High Kings of Ireland — the Victorian house and grounds at Clonalis are a living history visitors are invited to explore. Little has changed in centuries here, except perhaps the cows — as it’s still a working farm. The four self-catering cottages, former granary and coach houses, are smart yet homely. The welcome treats on arrival are a nice touch as is the addition of the Old Forge, a large self-contained room for private group dining, and guests have full use of the 700-acre woodland estate. There’s a pub within walking distance, too.
Details: Cottages start from €438 for three nights for five people. clonalishouse.com
If you like this, try… Clonganny House is an adults-only Georgian gem, minutes from the north Wexford coast with a stylish, self-contained gate lodge. clonganny.com
Where: Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh
Best for: A remote lakeside escape
Think boutique lodge meets Canadian wilderness cabin — these new, hygge-friendly huts are the latest in a new breed of hideaway that channels Scandinavian comforts. Each two-bed wooden lodge comes with Wi-Fi, fully-equipped kitchen, ensuite bathrooms with luxury walk-in showers and a private deck that peers over Lough Erne. Two of the six lodges are pet-friendly and some have hot tubs, and if all six are booked altogether, they can accommodate large families or groups of up to 56. Guests also have complimentary use of the hotel’s health club with indoor pool, outdoor hot tub, kids pool and gym, spa, the three estate restaurants and the ‘Killy Kids’ playground on the hotel grounds.
Lakeside cabins with hot tubs from £1,450 per week, or £1,200 without the hot tub. killyhevlin.com
If you like this, try… The lodges at Aherlow House in Co Tipperary are Scandi-styled cabins with decks overlooking the Galtee Mountains. aherlowhouse.ie
Where: Glaslough, Co Monaghan
Best for: A heritage hit with grounded grandeur
Perhaps best known for its history and food, the Blue Book’s Castle Leslie has plenty to appeal to a wider crew and manages to feel like a relaxed home — albeit one with several wings — with log fires, sink-into-me sofas and cosy nooks. There’s been no scrimping on the self-catering either. The stable mews lodges, a 15-minute walk from castle through the wooded estate, are high-level comfort, which we’ve come to expect of the country estate. Many are suitable for dogs and there’s also a fully-equipped playroom for kids. If you don’t feel like cooking, a meal at the castle restaurant is a particular highlight to book, and you’ve full access to the estate and its run of outdoor pursuits from clay pigeon shooting to horse riding.
Details: From €400 per night. castleleslie.com
If you like this, try… Waterford Castle is another quiet sanctuary on its own private island. It has 45 luxury, three-bedroom lodges sleeping six. waterfordcastleresort.com
Where: Connemara, Co Galway
Best for: A seaside escape
Only sleeping on the sand would get you closer to the Atlantic at this popular seaside hotel. Inside the eight self-catering houses, it’s all soothing nautical whites, blues and greys, and the beach theme runs right through to the main hotel where everyone is welcome. All houses sleep five comfortably and have the usual kit of amenities — with the addition of Dolce Gusto coffee machines and swanky smart TVs so you can access your favourite Netflix shows. There’s also an outdoor patio with picnic bench, and new food additions include gourmet takeaway pizzas and picnic hampers for a day on the beach. There’s no roll-call of amenities here (it has no pool, for example; the sea is just a few steps away), but enough to keep you busy — including tennis, paddle boarding, kayaking and the signature seaweed bath is recommended.
Details: Two-night minimum stays start from €180 per night year-round. Weekly rates in July/August from €900. connemarasands-hotel.com
If you like this, try… In Co Sligo, Enniscrone’s Ocean Sands Hotel has self-catering apartments, while the Diamond Coast Hotel can sleep families of up to eight in its newly refurbed family rooms. theoceansandshotel.ie; diamondcoast.ie
Where: Clonakilty, Co Cork
Best for: A beach break with a side of Zen
The antidote to being locked down, this 150-acre resort feels like your own private outdoor playground with beautiful Inchydoney Beach at your feet and an award-winning spa to linger in. Hop on a hotel bike and explore West Cork, go surfing or whale watching. Back at the hotel, there’s a glorious pool, games and Netflix room and golf. Fourteen two-bed apartments offer guests the best of both worlds: a secluded sanctuary at the house and the community benefits of the wider estate, including dinner delivered to your door, coffee, waffles, pizza and gelato from the hotel food truck — and you can borrow kites, buckets and spades from reception. Picnic baskets are available to order, too.
Details: Weekly rate in summer from €1,300; two-night minimum stay off season €245; inchydoneyisland.com
If you like this, try… Several Original Irish Hotels members offer self-catering houses or apartments on site, including Kerry’s Sneem Hotel, Cork’s Vienna Woods and the Step House in Co Carlow. originalirishhotels.com
Where: Leenane, Co Galway
Best for: A quiet hideaway
This stone, ivy-clad fishing lodge in the unspoilt Delphi valley is delightfully off-grid: think communal dining and log fires in the library, akin to an Agatha Christie novel. The six stone cottages are equally traditional and cosy, with open fires and stone flooring. Guests can eat in the main lodge (book well in advance as numbers are restricted) or take away oysters and wine from the resident food truck. The trump card here is the setting — ideal for hikers — or you can borrow a hotel bike and head for nearby Silver Strand and the Lost Valley walk, a favourite with families.
Details: Self-catering options include four Boathouse cottages (sleeping up to five) from €220 per night, Wrens cottage (up to six) from €240 a night and Waterfall cottage (up to 10) from €260 per night; delphilodge.ie
If you like this, try… Another Hidden Ireland property, Roundwood House has all the hallmarks of the perfect hideaway with charming hosts, cottages, its own hens and very good food. roundwoodhouse.com
Where: Mulranny, Co Mayo
Best for: Active families
With a great position on the Great Western Greenway and the edge of Clew Bay, Mulranny is a shoo-in when it comes to a happiness-through-the-ranks holiday. Rooms in the hotel book up fast, but you’ll be well served in one of the apartments on the grounds. They’re smart, bright and airy, many with sea views and extra sofa beds. Activities are well considered too with a kids’ club for the younger ones and an all-singing, all-dancing list of activities for the older crew, from biking to discos, seashore safaris, movie nights and crab fishing. Good food, plenty of fuss made of the kids, charming staff, action on tap, comfortable digs and a natural playground on the doorstep — it’s a great western winner.
Details: Two-bed apartments for two nights B&B with one evening meal from €658. mulrannyparkhotel.ie
If you like this, try… Three- and four-bed luxury lodges are available on the grounds of Mount Falcon Estate in Ballina, Co Mayo. mountfalcon.com
Where: Virginia, Co Cavan
Best for: A romantic glamping getaway
Originally a hunting lodge for the first Earl of Bective, one of Ireland’s richest men, this former sporting lodge is now headed up by chef Richard Corrigan, who describes it as “The Merrion in the countryside”. It’s a rather glossy version of a country retreat — even the bespoke handcrafted shepherd’s huts are luxe. The tiny, open-plan huts feature a built-in dining area that converts to a plush double bed, and there’s solid oak flooring, French double doors, a Neff hob, kettle and fridge. The wood-burning stove completes the cosy vibe and you’ll even get a Corrigan breakfast delivered to your door each morning.
Details: Sleeps two. From €140 per hut per night, including breakfast. virginiaparklodge.com
If you like this, try… You’ll also find cute shepherd’s huts too at Mary White’s Blackstairs Eco Trails in Borris, Co Carlow. From €75 per night. blackstairsecotrails.ie
Where: Boa Island, Co Fermanagh
Best for: Wholesome fun
Fancy a Scandi-style lakeside escape? Disembarking the car ferry onto this island is like stepping into a private paradise. There’s a touch of American camp-style adventure, but it’s tempered with a hit of lakeside luxury as the 16 self-catering lodges and six cabins are fully kitted with mod-cons, marble worktops, built-in appliances, open living-dining and verandahs looking out over the lake — perfect for that early morning dip. Some huts have wood-burning stoves and a handful are pet-friendly. The rest of the resort is a playground of land and sea activities: kayaking, boating, off-road driving, fairy trails, tennis, a play park and an award-winning spa for when you need to rest up.
Details: Prices from £240 per night based on six people sharing. lustybegisland.com
If you like this, try… Co Wicklow’s River Valley Park has a choice of log cabins, mobile homes and a slick glampotel with a vast array of activities. rivervalleypark.ie
Where: Nenagh, Co Tipperary
Best for: Low-key country escapes
Apart from the mature beech woodland, ruined Irish castle and renovated cottages, this giant colonial-style dollhouse on the edge of a lake, is exactly what you’d imagine if you wandered onto a film set in Alabama, complete with resident boat. The former coach houses have been renovated as sleek, crisp digs with a nod to French country chic. There’s also a scatter of quaint lodges tucked among the woods, including the one-bedroom gardener’s cottage, the side cottage, two gate lodges and the five-bed lake-view lodge. Don’t expect a resort spread; this is a small-scale serene escape with world-class gardens and an intimate touch.
Details: From €150 per night. ashleypark.com
If you like this, try… Hide away at the beautifully revamped Orchard Cottage on the grounds of West Cork’s Dunowen House (from €150 per night). dunowenhouse.ie
Where: Bantry, Cork
Best for: An on-the-water weekend
This four-star family hotel has a knock-out location under the craggy Caha Mountains on the shores of Bantry Bay. Families, or an extended group of friends, can stay in the quaint stone cottages that are linked around a shared courtyard that feel distinctly country-casual with lots of wood, check furnishings and a welcome pack of tea and scones for weekly residents. Cottage guests are welcome at the “big house” to use all the facilities. In summer, the ballroom hosts movie and popcorn nights with individual family pods, and it’s worth exploring the 26-acre grounds, home to guided fairy trails and an intertidal pond, that stretch as far as Bantry
House. Ask at reception for a grain bag for feeding the resident ducks.
Details: Cottages from €120 per night. westlodgehotel.ie
If you like this, try… Guests at the fourteen cottages at Dingle Skellig Hotel also have access to the Fungi kids’ club and creche. dinglecottages.com
Where: Durras, Co Cork
Best for: Beach breakers
Everything happens around the pretty courtyard at this lovely Georgian guest house overlooking Dunmanus Bay. On one side is the acclaimed restaurant, which has been drawing crowds for years and impresses even the most jaded foodie. On the other side are four stylish cottage-style suites which can be rented on a B&B or self-catering basis, thoughtfully designed and curated with practical consideration: a wood-burning stove (set for your arrival), quirky bric-a-brac, a chilled bottle of wine and a bathroom stocked with Voya essentials. Down the road at Dunmanus pier, there’s another charming coastal-themed cottage on its own fishing pier. Don’t miss the legendary buffet breakfast or, better yet, order it to your cosy cottage bed. It’s a Blue Book member, too.
Details: Prices start from €150 per night for The Piggery (sleeping four), The Smoke House (two/three), The Loft (two), The Coach House (two), Dunmanus Pier (four). blairscove.ie
If you like this, you’ll love… The Georgian Quay House in Clifden has recently been renovated to allow for a self-
contained unit that sleeps up to 16. thequayhouse.com
Where: Campile, Co Wexford
Garden lovers, quiet country escapes
There’s not much of a modern aesthetic at this honey-stone manor house, and that’s delightful. The two self-catering lodges are revamped classics. The Garden Suite (sleeping four), converted from the former granary, has original features, including exposed brick walls and a pretty view of the Italianate garden from a large rose window. The two-storey coach house (sleeping nine) is the loftier of the two, with a beamed ceiling and minstrels gallery. Interconnecting doors means you can accommodate larger groups. Guests can reserve time at the indoor heated pool and restaurant, and have use of the tennis courts and croquet lawn. It might be lacking in shiny bells and whistles, but it’s a perfect quiet corner or private space for a rowdy crew where you don’t have to worry about disturbing other people’s bubbles.
Details: Coach House from €920 for four nights, Garden Suite from €560 for four nights. kilmokea.com
If you like this, you’ll love… Co Waterford’s Faithlegg House has mews holiday homes on the grounds and access to hotel leisure facilities; faithlegg.com
Where: Old Dublin Road, Galway
Best for: City explorers
This popular three-star is set around 2km outside the city and has been reincarnated several times — from old-school 1960s outpost to the recently refurbished hotel. Two- and three-bed apartments come with kitchen facilities and there’s a surprising Meet the Fockers-style motorhome (sleeping eight to 10 people). Fully decked out with multiple TVs, two bathrooms, washing machine, dryer, Nespresso machine, fridge and its own private barbecue area… it might make you forget you’re staying in a hotel. Guests who book directly can avail of the free kids’ club, and breakfast is included. There’s also a lovely afternoon tea, free parking, and carbon-conscious guests can offset their footprint for 50c as part of the hotel’s sustainable strategy.
Details: The RV starts from €350 per night midweek, or €500 per night at weekends. Two-bed apartments start from €200 per night. theconnacht.ie
If you like this, try… The Station House Hotel is an old-school family favourite in buzzing Clifden with two- and three-bed apartments. clifdenstationhouse.com
Where: Galgorm, Co Antrim
Best for: Group get-togethers
This is a full-on resort and a shining example of how luxury and family-friendly can mix. The highlight is the thermal village with pools, treatment rooms, saunas and a snow cabin, all set on a river (check with hotel for access times). The 25 self-catering lodges sleep two to 12 people, depending on your choice, and tick all the boxes expected of a luxury resort: wood-burning stoves and fire pits at the shepherds huts, hot tubs on the terrace of the riverside cabins, complimentary mini bar in the cottage suites and gate lodge, welcome packs with essentials on arrival and take-out food delivery from the main hotel. Day trips to the Titanic Museum or Causeway Coast are easily doable.
Details: Accommodation ranges from £215 per night for The Cottage (sleeping two) to £1,300 for Red Oaks Residence (sleeping 12). galgorm.com
If you like this, try… The fairy-tale lodges on the edge of Lough Erne come with the luxury of the five-star resort at your fingertips. lougherneresort.com
Where: Clonakilty, Co Cork
Best for: An action-packed break with young kids
The casual atmosphere at this good-value family hotel belies its well-oiled formula. A long-as-your-arm list of attractions ranges from outdoor adventure centre with zip lines and climbing walls to a playground with a pirate ship, three-screen cinema, games room, indoor jungle gym, golf, pools… exhausting, but just what successful family holidays are made of. Self-catering options include two-bed apartments and three-bed houses. They’re not plush, but very functional and have everything you need to whip up a few meals. If you don’t fancy cooking, head for the hotel restaurant or Clonakilty for some (long-awaited) pub grub.
Two-night weekend stays from €440 in the houses, and €370 in the apartments. clonakiltyparkhotel.ie
If you like this, try… Kenmare Bay Hotel & Resort has two-bed lodges just a short stroll from one of Ireland’s prettiest towns; kenmarebayhotel.com
Where: Collooney, Co Sligo
Best for: Casual castle living
The potting shed, adjacent to Markree castle, is the nicest of the self-catering options here. The 13 ‘farm apartments’, renovated from the 18th-century Palladian outbuildings, are more of a departure in style and a little more basic, but offer plenty of space and work just as well as a base for jumping off into the Wild Atlantic Way. And, you can still enjoy castle comforts — it’s worth sticking your head in to marvel at the giant stained-glass window in the hall and enjoy a pre-dinner drink at one of the roaring fires. The picnic deck overlooking the River Unshin is a nice draw for families and Strandhill beach, Voya seaweed baths and Mammy Johnson’s famous ice-cream parlour are just 20 minutes away.
Details: One-beds from €110 per night, two-beds from €220 per night, three-beds from €330 per night. markreecastle.ie; markreehomefarm.ie
If you like this, try… Three-bed cottages with all the comforts and facilities of lovely Lough Rynn Castle; loughrynn.ie
Where: Sneem, Co Kerry
Best for: Extended family, including the dog
Although destined to be monopolised by Lycra-clad cyclists and hulking tour buses, the Ring of Kerry and the colourful town of Sneem are also keen family territory. The two- and three-bed self-catering apartments overlooking the picturesque Sneem estuary are tricked out with all the usual mod-cons, balconies overlooking the water, and all are pet-friendly. Guests can hop over to the main hotel for meals or stroll the lovely riverside walk into town where there’s plenty of restaurants, cafes and pubs. There’s kayaking on Golden Cove right outside your digs and Silver Strand and Derrynane beaches are a short drive away.
Details: Four-night minimum stay from €620, seven nights from €980 for a two-bed apartment. sneemhotel.com
If you like this, try… Wake up to the sound of the ocean at Derrynane Hotel. The four-bed houses sleep up to eight and all have private patios. derrynanehotel.com
NB: All prices subject to availability and change. Always check Covid-related cancellation policies before booking