There are plenty of excellent options and value available around Ireland this summer (restrictions permitting) — if you know where to look, says Nicola Brady
It seems pretty safe to say that home holidays are looking a lot more likely than overseas trips this summer (restrictions permitting, of course). While there’s a niggling fear that places are already booked up or overpriced, especially for July and August, the truth is, there are still plenty of excellent holiday options and value available... if you know where to look.
While bookings are definitely heating up, there is still lots of availability this summer, and prices that might surprise you, too. The key is to think outside the box — instead of a beach house in Kerry or Wexford, for example, try Donegal. If two weeks in a hotel is too expensive, why not consider a short break or two, midweek, in a city, or in one of our excellent country B&Bs?
There’s no denying the Rip-Off Ireland debates have started, but plenty of the people featured on these pages keep their prices the same all year round. There’s terrific value for savvy travellers out there, particularly inland in counties like Roscommon and Offaly, where tourism providers are thinking creatively.
Of course, you’ll want to double check the T&Cs before you book — that’s why we’ve included notes on Covid and cancellation policies for all of the entries here, and the prices are applicable in July and August, to keep things fair. Happy browsing!
1. Garryvoe Hotel, Co Cork
Why: Set right on the sea in Garryvoe, this is a great spot for a proper family seaside holiday in East Cork. There’s plenty to keep the kids occupied locally, and there’s a swimming pool on site if the weather doesn’t play ball. Plus, the family rooms are spacious and well designed (kids will love the fish-themed wallpaper).
Details: Two nights B&B with one dinner from €414 for a family of four; garryvoehotel.com
Cancellation Notes: Up to 24 hours notice.
2. Marine Hotel Ballycastle, Co Antrim
Why: You’ll have the Causeway Coast at your fingertips in this family-friendly hotel. They have some great packages too, including a four-night break with horse riding, two dinners and breakfast every morning. There are some great walking trails too, and some of the family rooms are dog friendly.
Details: A four-night package costs from €1,028; marinehotelballycastle.com
Cancellation Notes: Full refund if restrictions close the hotel.
3. Oakwell Holiday Village, Co Donegal
Why: There’s a range of different accommodation options at Oakwell, from sweet little shepherd’s huts to quaint cottages with private hot tubs. But it’s the Loft that will likely appeal to kids. This curved wooden structure looks a bit like a two-storey wagon, with two single beds upstairs and a double on the ground floor. Wherever you look, there are uninterrupted views of Lough Swilly, with plenty of country walks on the doorstep.
Details: The Loft starts at €387 for three nights;
Cancellation Notes: Refund if lockdown prevents travel.
4. Sliabh Beagh Hotel, Co Monaghan
Why: This hotel, in the foothills of the Sliabh Beagh Mountains, is completely community run, and a proper escape from the rat race. It’s a walker’s paradise, with plenty of loops right on the doorstep, whether you fancy a kid-friendly 3km stroll or a longer hike. Children under three go free, too.
Details: Check into a family room from €110 per night; sliabhbeaghhotel.ie
Cancellation Policy: Free cancellation until 24 hours prior.
5. Center Parcs, Longford
Why: Sure, Center Parcs is never going to be a budget option. But if you fancy splurging on a long weekend, it could be a good shout, if only to splash around in its beloved subtropical swimming pool. Bear in mind, entry to the pool is currently limited and must be booked (along with many other activities) in advance. If you’re staying for three nights, you get two sessions of two hours each.
Details: Three-night weekend from €999, arriving Friday, July 23 in a two-bedroom lodge sleeping four; centerparcs.ie
Cancellation Notes: There’s a fully flexible policy currently in place — “no quibble” date moves or refunds, for all arrivals up to and including April 18, 2022.
6. Buckled Wheel tent and trailers
Why: Camper vans make for a brilliant holiday, but they book up quickly. Enter Buckled Wheel. This brand new company offers unique adventure trailers and roof tents that you tow behind your car. They’re pretty teeny, but the trailer has a double bed that converts into a sofa during the day, and the pop-up tent sleeps another two (kids will go wild at the idea of sleeping on top of the trailer). It comes with a full kitchen, as well as a fire pit and camping chairs.
Details: Prices from €76 per night in July; buckledwheel.ie
Cancellation Notes: Dates changes or full refunds guaranteed for people who can’t travel due Covid.
7. Further Space, Northern Ireland
Why: Glamping pods are 10-a-penny now, but the quality of the interiors can vary wildly. The pods from Further Space are stylish, comfortable and as spacious as a pod can be, with en-suite bathrooms, a main double bed and a cute twin bunk. Location wise, you can choose from a few spots in the North, including the shores of Lough Erne in Fermanagh, and Glenarm, where the woodland pods sit on the grounds of the 17th-century castle, with gorgeous views out to the sea.
Details: Pods from €138 per night, with a two-night minimum stay; further.space
Cancellation Notes: Full refund or date change if your booking is affected by restrictions.
8. Wild Atlantic Camp, Co Donegal
Why: Overlooking the gorgeous Sheephaven Bay, this is the perfect campsite for people who aren’t confident pitching their own tent. There are a few different options, from bell tents to pods, but the cabins and villas are great for families. The cabins are compact but have everything you need, and the interior design is top notch. Plus, there’s a TV and Wi-Fi if your kids aren’t ready to go cold turkey from the screens.
Details: Cabins start from €320 for four nights midweek; wildatlanticcamp.ie
Cancellation Notes: Full refunds only in government lockdowns, otherwise bookings can be moved.
9. Willowbrook Glamping & Hideaways, Co Roscommon
Why: I’ve got two words for you: Yurty Ahern. Yep, that’s the name of one of the yurts at Willowbrook, alongside Yurt Cobain and Yurty and the Tramp. Excellent names aside, this is a paradise for families, run by a couple with a young daughter. It’s set right on a little lake, and there’s a fairy garden and fairy-door trail on site, along with an outdoor pizza oven. There are 15 camping pitches, too.
Details: Yurts from €120 a night, camping spots €35 a night, both for a family of four; willowbrookglamping.ie
Cancellation Notes: Flexible when in response to government restrictions.
10. Aran Islands Glamping, Inis Mór
Why: Just a few feet from the gorgeous Frenchman’s Beach, this spot would be absolute heaven if you caught it in a heatwave. There are 24 cute lodges in the form of Tigíns and Clocháns, the shape of which was inspired by the beehive-style stone huts dotted around the island. There are regular pitching spots too, if you’re bringing your own tent. There’s also a brand new ferry crossing from Galway City launching in June.
Details: Camping from €10pp per night, lodges from €160 per night; irelandglamping.ie
Cancellation Notes: Full refund where restrictions apply.
11. Boreen, Co Tipperary
Why: This luxurious Airbnb is set right on a private river in the Tipperary hills, hidden far away from the world we’re all desperate to escape. The interiors are to die for, with massive, comfy couches, raised beds and plenty of light. On balmy evenings, you can relax with a glass of wine on the sun deck, and if it’s grim, you can delve into the retro game consoles (hello, Game Boy…).
Details: From €129 per night; airbnb.com/h/boreen
Cancellation Notes: Free cancellation until the day of arrival.
12. The Sea Rod Inn, Co Mayo
Why: This charming little B&B has nine rooms and one family room, with sea views all the way over to Achill Island. Doohoma Beach is just a short stroll away, and is a little slice of heaven on a fine day.
Details: Family room on a B&B basis from €90 per night, or three nights for €200 in July; thesearodinn.ie
Cancellation Notes: Full refund up to 24 hours prior.
13. Clareville B&B, Co Clare
Why: This gorgeous B&B is in the village of Tuamgraney and perfectly set up for kids. There are board games and books, a playground nearby, as well as two small blue flag beaches on the shores of Lough Derg, a five-minute drive away. Plus, there’s a “catch and cook” fishing package, where Teresa will cook up whatever you catch for dinner.
Details: Family rooms cost from €120 per night; clarevillehouse.ie
Cancellation Notes: Fully flexible.
14. Big Mick’s Cottage, Co Kilkenny
Why: This renovated cottage is right on a working farm, making it a wonderland for animal-loving kids. There’s heaps of outdoor space, and the giant gable windows flood the place with light. There’s a tree house, trampolines and swings in the garden, and plenty of nice walks nearby. The owners can also deliver home-cooked meals, if you want to take a break from the kitchen (who doesn’t?).
Details: From €85 per night plus fees; airbnb.ie/rooms/15425598
Cancellation Policy: Fully flexible if restrictions change.
15. Kilmokea Country Manor, Co Wexford
Why: Let’s face it — most kids are happy if they have a swimming pool. There’s an indoor heated pool at the luxurious Kilmokea, and guests now book private sessions each day to keep things nice and sanitary. The Peacock room is best for families, with two four-poster beds. But there are also smaller rooms for three people, and self-catering rentals too.
Details: Peacock from €596 for two nights for four people, B&B. Self-catering Garden Suite from €580 for four nights; kilmokea.com
Cancellation Notes: Bookings deferred in case of lockdown.
16. The Cottages Ireland, Co Meath
Why: While some of the coastal properties in the West get snapped up quickly, the east coast can be a little forgotten. But it would be a sin to overlook these beautiful thatched cottages in Bettystown, right on the beach, with wood-beamed ceilings and big welcoming living rooms.
Details: Five nights in Little Orchard Cottage in August cost from €1,687 (if booked by February 28), sleeping five; cottages-ireland.com
Cancellation Notes: Full refund if restrictions prevent travel.
17. The Stables Irishtown House, Co Westmeath
Why: This beautiful stable conversion opened last year, and looks like it’s straight out of a Nancy Meyers movie. Filled with light and gorgeous little fixtures, this is a place where you can forget all about the piles of laundry and broken doorknobs at home. While they don’t accommodate children under 12, it’s proved a popular spot for families with teenagers, who head out on the Royal Canal Greenway or Derrymore Springs nearby.
Details: Rental starts from €129 per night; thestablesirishtownhouse.ie
Cancellation Notes: Full refund for Covid-related circumstances.
18. Lusty Beg Island, Co Fermanagh
Why: These gorgeous wooden cabins are right in the lakeside woodlands, and have a wholesome American summer-camp vibe. There are plenty of activities available on site (Covid permitting), from kayaking to water safari, and all of the lodges and chalets have washing machines and dishwashers. Some of them are dog friendly too, so you can bring the pup along.
Details: Two-bedroom chalets from €167 per night, with a two-night minimum; lustybegisland.com
Cancellation Notes: Cancellation up to five days prior to arrival.
19. Sheepwalk House, Co Wicklow
Why: It only opened last year, but already Sheepwalk House has a legion of loyal fans. With four cosy cottages and one big farmhouse, it’s the ideal spot for a breath of country air, with Brittas Beach just 15 minutes away. The smaller cottages are adorable, with a charming, country house décor. But if you’re after a multi-family trip (restrictions dependent), the eight-bedroomed Sheepwalk House is beautifully designed, with a piano, outdoor space and every room en-suite. Kids will love going to collect fresh eggs from the hens, too.
Details: Cottages from €110 per night, sleeping four; sheepwalkhouse.com
Cancellation Notes: Booking fee fully refunded if restrictions prevent your trip.
20. The Old Rectory Country House, Co Leitrim
Why: There are four courtyard apartments on the grounds of this beautiful, old country house, each with two to three bedrooms. Overlooking Fenagh Lake, this is a place for languid country walks, games on the lawn and maybe a paddle in the Canadian canoes. There’s also an outdoor hot tub overlooking the lake. If kids need to unleash some energy, you can head to the Acres Boardwalk in Drumshanbo and go wild along the Blueway.
Details: Apartments from €140 per night or €550 for the week; theoldrectoryireland.com
Cancellation Notes: Full refund if Covid guidelines change.
21. Lisheen Castle, Co Tipperary
Why: This elaborate 19th-century castle usually caters to the American market, so understandably has had much more availability recently. Ideal for a multi-family getaway, the castle has nine bedrooms, as well as a tennis court, basketball court, playground and beautiful country gardens. The price might make your eyes water, but divide it by 14 people and it’s not quite as painful — a weekend comes in at around €214 a head.
Details: Exclusive rental from €3,000 for a weekend, or €7,840 for a week; lisheencastle.com
Cancellation Notes: Date change or deposit refunded if restrictions change.
22. A night in Dublin
Why: When dreaming of a summer holiday in Ireland, we automatically think of the coast. But there are going to be bargains aplenty in Dublin this summer, without the usual throngs of international tourists. The Croke Park Hotel has some great rates in July, and you can tag on a family ticket to the zoo, if it’s open. Fancy a bit of luxury? The five-star Intercontinental Dublin has family rooms from €430, including breakfast and access to the pool.
Details: Family room in The Croke Park from €144 in July; doylecollection.com; intercontinentaldublin.ie
Cancellation Policy: Varies.
23. Wild Atlantic Bus, Galway
Why: Fancy something a little different? This old
double-decker bus has been fully refurbished into a rather dapper place to stay. There are three double beds, full kitchen, wetroom and an outdoor shower. It’s just a few minutes stroll from Lough Corrib, too. Ox Mountain Adventure Camp in Sligo also has a converted bus that sleeps up to six people, as well as a super-cool tree house and lodges (oxmountainadventurecamp.com).
Details: Wild Atlantic Bus starts at €215 per night, two-night minimum; wildatlanticbus.ie
Cancellation Notes: Partial refund (not including Airbnb fees) if Covid restricts travel.
24. House Swapping
Why: There’s been a big increase in domestic house swapping over the last year, with a particular rise in rural properties, according to Love Home Swap (restrictions permitting, of course). Obviously, it’s not up everyone’s alley, and you’ll want to have an in-depth conversation about pre-stay cleaning, but a house swap in Ireland could be a great scenery change without the hefty bill. Love Home Swap has a two-week free trial membership to spy on the kind of homes on offer while another company, HomeLink, is offering a 30-day free trial. “Last year, we found most members swapping within Ireland and discovering places they never thought of visiting,” says its director Marie Murphy. “If people think about it, they can swap their home or holiday home and save vast amounts of money. It really is a no-brainer.”
Details: Membership from around €9 per month; lovehomeswap.com; homelink.ie
Cancellation Notes: Variable.
25. Coolderry Lodges, Co Offaly
Why: Staying at a working farm is always a sure-fire hit with the kids. At Coolderry Lodges, there are chickens running around, friendly dogs and cows in the fields. The two barn conversions are beautifully designed, with an outdoor dining area. Both lodges have two bedrooms, so if you want to holiday with another family, it’s a great choice. You’re only a few minutes from the Slieve Bloom Mountains, so there are plenty of gorgeous walks around. Plus, kids under 13 go free.
Details: From €106 per night; coolderrylodges.ie
Cancellation Notes: Full refunds if Covid restrictions prevent travel.
NB: All prices subject to change/availability and Covid-related restrictions. Check your travel insurance, cancellation and change policies before booking — brief notes are included here, but T&Cs are usually much more detailed.