With time running out to book a staycation this summer, Pól Ó Conghaile shops around and shares his tips for short breaks over the next few weeks.
Looking for a short break with the family, or sneaky getaway as a couple? There's still value out there, if you know where (and when) to look.
Irish people don’t exactly flock to Dublin City on their summer hols. Now the capital is down a couple of million overseas visitors, too — leaving buckets of availability in hotels. Clontarf Castle has a ‘Great Escape’ offer bundling two nights’ B&B, one dinner and a box of chocolates from €300 (i.e. €150pp). Best of all, you’ll get a third night free. Elsewhere, the Merrion has a ‘Five-Star Steal’ with B&B, a bottle of champagne and a three-course dinner included from €350 (i.e. €175pp). Could this be the time to leave the kids on lockdown for an adults’ night away?
Details: clontarfcastle.ie; merrionhotel.com
Fancy a private glamping experience at King John’s Castle? What about a free weekend at Curraghchase Caravan & Camping Park? Those are just two of 50 prizes available in Limerick’s bumper ‘50 Days of summer’ campaign. The Limerick Strand Hotel also has a ‘Little Explorers’ offer for a family of four, with B&B, a picnic and a late checkout (2pm) from €170 per room. The pool is open, with slots pre-booked, and children under 12 dine free.
Details: limerick.ie/50days; strandlimerick.ie
3. Self-catering is not lost
Self-catering and camping sell-outs have been the story of the summer — but there is still availability for August, if you know where (and when) to look. From August 22, for example, Trident Holiday Homes has the Galway Bay Holiday Lodges in Oranmore from €921, and the Courtyard Holiday Cottages in Bettystown, Co Meath, from €719. For other deals, look away from the coast towards off-radar areas like south Wicklow (pictured), Carlow, Meath and Louth. Check the ‘accommodation’ tabs on destination websites like govisitdonegal.com or tipperary.com, too.
Details: tridentholidayhomes.ie; letsgoselfcatering.com
We haven’t seen deep discounting this summer, but savvy travellers will find rich pickings midweek. Monart in Co Wexford has a ‘Midweek Haven’ offer with B&B, dinner and a 30-minute treatment from €199pp. The K Club in Kildare, fully reopening from August 1, has a three-night B&B offer from €588 (i.e. €294pp). In Dublin, the new Trinity Townhouse (a sister property of Kenmare’s Sheen Falls) has three nights for two from €240 (i.e. just €120pp). monart.ie; kclub.ie; trinitytownhousehotel.com
Ireland’s PREM Group has spent €6m restoring the four-star Tulfarris Hotel & Golf Resort in Blessington, Co Wicklow, and it has reopened after lockdown with several special offers. A family room with B&B, pizza on the terrace (or in your room, if the weather is playing up), and a picnic lunch to take out on an adventure starts from €199 per night. If you like golf, the resort is also doing a ‘play, stay and dine’ offer from €109.50pp, including B&B, dinner and a round of golf. tulfarrishotel.com
Drawn to the coast, but not the peak-season prices? Co Donegal’s Inishowen Gateway Hotel has B&B, a four-course dinner, free use of Buncrana Golf Course and admission to the new Wild Ireland sanctuary (with its bears, wolves and more) from €184 (ie €92pp). In Connemara, the Carna Bay Hotel has several sandy beaches within a five-minute drive, and two nights’ B&B with an evening meal from €147.50pp. inishowengateway.com; carnabay.com
Some of the best summer value lies in packages, with stays, meals and activities bundled together at reduced rates under one headline price. Westport’s Clew Bay Hotel, a member of Original Irish Hotels, has a two-night B&B package with the choice of a day’s bike hire or Stand-Up Paddle Boarding on Old Head Beach, all from €160pp. In Sligo, Strandhill Lodge & Suites has a two-night ‘surf-and-stay’ package from €155pp.
Details: originalirishhotels.com; strandhilllodgeandsuites.ie
Killarney is another tourist town short on tourists this year. Cahernane House, set on the edge of its National Park, has two nights’ B&B with a table d’hote dinner from €330 (i.e. €165pp). Meanwhile, though its Dunloe and Ard na Sidhe hotels are shut until 2021, the Liebherr Group’s Europe is open — with a two-night break plus dinner from €620 (i.e. €320pp). cahernane.com; theeurope.com
Kildare is another county often overlooked for staycations... meaning lower prices compared to like-for-like properties on the coast. Robertstown Holiday Village has family self-catering from €489 at weekends or €525 midweek (four nights) — with discount cards for Kildare Village thrown in to boot. Blackrath Farmhouse B&B, in Ballitore Quaker Village, also has a weekend special from €250 for two (picnics can be arranged). robertstownholidayvillage.com; blackrathfarmhouse.com
Walking is back with a bang post-lockdown, so why not book a break near a trail? IrelandWays.com, sister company to Caminoways.com, has several new short breaks, including a four-night, self-guided hiking trip along the Burren Way from Lahinch to Ballyvaughan. Luggage transfers, maps, support and stays in family-run guesthouses or hotels are all included from €315pps. Meanwhile, in Co Donegal, the Rusty Mackerel is a bar, restaurant and overnight oasis set at the foot of stunning Slieve League, with doubles from €75 and triples from €110 this August. irelandways.com; therustymackerel.com
NB: Prices subject to availability and change. Call ahead to check Covid-19 policies, what facilities are open, and which need pre-booking. See also irelandhotel.com
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Its cliffs are Ireland’s cover star. The hero image that, no matter how ubiquitous, still leaves you reeling — from the raw power of nature to the surprising emotional connection. Like all cover stars, however, their brightness can blind you to the surrounding beauty.