Sick of the staycation search? Giving up on that getaway?
While availability is squeezed and prices are higher in July and August, there are still offers out there... if you know where to look.
I've been trying to piece together family holidays of my own, and have learned a few things along the way.
There are still overseas bookings in the system - made by international visitors who will have to cancel in the coming weeks. So consider calling self-catering houses and asking to be put on their call-back lists. The Irish Self Catering Federation's Facebook page can throw up some handy late availability posts, Airbnb.ie still has lots of short-stay availability if you can be flexible on locations and dates, and don't forget hotels! We listed 20 great Irish hotels with self-catering this week, and last autumn, compiled this selection of 50 great self-catering stays in Ireland - they may help jump-start your search.
We tend to think of summer holidays in terms of weeks and fortnights. But this year is different. Overseas travel remains uncertain; everyone is trying to shoehorn home holidays into the same eight weeks.
One way to get around that is to think in terms of shorter trips - booking two or three days here and there rather than a solid, week-long block. Travelling midweek unlocks more availability and better deals.
Some examples I've found include the Ferrycarrig Hotel in Co Wexford, which has two-night B&B stays for a family of four from €400 midweek, and the gorgeous Castlewood House, a five-star B&B in Dingle, which still has rooms from €150 to €225 per night. "Our dining room is also available for guests to use for takeaway options," says proprietor Helen Heaton - a nice touch.
While the Parknasillas and Kelly's of this world booked up long ago, hotels with lower profiles still have availability, too. The Emmet, a boutique hotel in Clonakilty, Co Cork, has two nights' B&B with a €60 dinner voucher, a G&T on arrival and a visit to Michael Collins' House from €399, based on two sharing.
Go on... you deserve it. A lack of overseas visitors means more availability (and value) in five-stars this summer. This list of 10 great five-star hotel deals in Ireland is my pick of the best, ranging from B&B at Fota Island Resort from €189 in September to The Merrion's 'Five Star Steal' bundling B&B, a bottle of Champagne and dinner for two from €370. Not cheap, but you also get the creature comforts, slap-up breakfast, leisure centre and flexible cancellation policies of a top hotel into the bargain.
By all means use those big websites for searches. They charge accommodations 15pc or more in commission however, so by picking up the phone, both you and the business can save.
It’s worth asking for a price discount, but also for packages or extras that add value - like reductions on extra nights, meals or activities thrown in, a room upgrade, discounts on local attractions or resort-style credit (eg. 20pc off spa treatments).
Hotels know you will spend money on site, so it’s in their interest to get you staying longer.
July is looking heavily booked, but more green dots pop up on the booking calendars in June and later in August. Partly that's because school is returning; partly for another reason.
"August [bookings] have fallen off a cliff," as one hotel group told me recently. "We believe it might be related to the possible opening up of foreign travel."
Again, look for value in packages as well as prices. The Celtic Ross Hotel in West Cork, for example, has a three-day ' Lazy Summer Break' bundling B&B, one dinner, street food from its Craft food truck, a G&T, afternoon tea and a local walking guidebook from €429 for two people in August & September.
You'll be kept busy there.
Everyone wants the perfect cottage by the coast. But what about Ireland's great lakes, rivers and inland counties?
I took a look at Carlow this week and found some lovely shepherd's huts available with organic breakfast from €75 a night at Blackstairs Eco Trails; Mount Brandon cottages had some houses from €440 to €570 per week in June and July; while luxury Ballykealey House Hotel had two-bed houses sleeping five still available from €300 per night. That's just one county!
Instead of leaving the city, what about heading the other way? After months without shopping, museums, galleries and restaurants, I'm gagging for an urban fix.
Sites like Trident Holiday Homes have self-catering apartments showing in Galway, for example. Or what about staying in student accommodation. Both campusaccommodation.ie and oncampus.ie have apartments at NUI Galway, UCC in Cork and Dublin's DCU from around €880 for a week for a family of four.
Finally, city hotels have some great value at the minute, too.
Brooks Hotel on Dublin's Drury Street has a ' Stay and Shop Local' package including B&B, dinner, early check-in, late checkout and exclusive discounts of up to 10pc in nearby shops like OM Diva and Article from €249 for two people.
Dublin's Morrison, meanwhile (listed No.2 on TripAdvisor's top 10 Irish hotels for 2021) has B&B and dinner for two with chocs and bubbles from €199 midweek or €239 on weekends.
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