17 cool places to stay in Ireland – from a double-decker bus to a bar without beer
Forget glamping pods and shepherd’s huts. We’ve found the quirkiest rentals all over the country...
Looking for a cool place to stay in Ireland? Start your search here!
1. Ox Mountain Red Bus, Sligo
Hidden away in the mountains, this semi-open-top bus served the London streets in the 1990s, but is now a quirky place to rest your head. Sleeping up to six, the bus has a kitchen, TV, and a cool balcony on the upper deck, as well as decking out the front.
Kids will love sitting in the driver’s seat and having a go on the steering wheel, too. You can also book into the campground’s private hot tub, filled with natural spring water and with great views over the mountains.
Details: Bus from €100 per night; oxmountainglamping.ie
2. George Best’s family home, Belfast
Fancy sleeping in the childhood home of a football legend? Well, now you can, in the East Belfast home where George Best was raised. Taken on by the charity EastSide Partnership after Best’s father died, the house was retrofitted during Covid to look exactly as it would have during Best’s youth, from the vintage TV to the family photos on the walls. George’s sister Barbara helped with the details, even down to the sofa positioning and the rightful location of the Christmas tree. She also voices an audio guide to the home. The best part? Every penny made goes back into regeneration projects around East Belfast.
Details: House from €99 per night, sleeping up to five; georgebesthouse.com
3. Hobbit hut, Co Mayo
Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings series is set to air later this year, so you can expect an uptick of interest in all things hobbit any day now. Luckily, you don’t need to go all the way to New Zealand to get your fix. The hobbit huts at Mayo Glamping are just outside Castlebar, covered in earth and grass and with nifty circular doors. There’s also a fire pit outside each one, so you can sit with a flagon of ale. But it’s not just hobbit huts — there are also ‘A’-frame huts and a Harry Potter-style train carriage to sleep in. And to tick off another famous franchise, there’s a Game of Thrones-style loo in the toilet block. One (porcelain) throne to rule them all, indeed.
Details: Rates from €140 per night; mayoglamping.ie
4. Frank the Shipping Container, Co Donegal
This shipping container was once used to transport excavator parts from China to Omagh. But now it’s a cute little property called Frank, suspended over the edge of a coastal lake in Donegal, overlooking Traighenna Bay. It’s named after American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, which is apt when you consider its architectural kudos — the structure even bounces a little when you walk through it. You’re surrounded by views of the lake and the bay, whether you’re tucked up inside or out on the deck.
Details: Two nights from €273; underthethatch.co.uk/fts
5. Anne’s Grove Miniature Castle, Co Cork
If you’ve always wanted to be the king of the castle, your dreams will come true at Anne’s Grove. This miniature medieval castle sits on the grounds of Anne’s Grove House and Gardens near Castletownroche, and is a dreamy little space with turrets, stone stairs and arched ceilings. As you would expect from an Irish Landmark property, there’s a cosy wood-burning stove and antique furniture. You can even bring your dog along.
Details: Castle from €350 for two nights; irishlandmark.com
6. Burrenmore Nest, Co Derry
Not quite treehouses, but not quite cabins, the new lodges at Burrenmore Nest are pretty damn sleek. These cedar-clad structures are set on stilts among the trees, with views of the forest from the king-sized bed. When the light fades, you can watch a movie on the giant projector, or head out for a private whirlpool bath among the trunks. There’s a communal fire pit, and it’s just a short walk to the Mussenden Temple estate, where you’ll find beautiful views out over the sea.
Details: Lodges from £280/€327 per night; burrenmore-nest.com
7. Martello Tower, Sutton
It’s rare enough that you get to see inside a Martello Tower, let alone sleep in one. But in Sutton, you can book a stay in the tower that looks out over Dublin Bay. In fact, this was actually the first Martello tower to be built in Dublin, way back in 1804. Inside, there are two double bedrooms, a brick-lined living room, and a modern kitchen. But the real winner is the wraparound balcony, where you can drink in those sea views for hours.
Details: Two nights from €525; martellotowersutton.com
8. Viking settlement, Co Wexford
Have you ever been to the Irish National Heritage Park and seen the crannóg, Viking ship and settlements? Well, did you know you can actually stay the night, too? You can book an overnight stay in a Viking house on the shores of the River Slaney, or within the walled battlements of a ringfort, so you can not only get off the grid but go back in time, too. You’ll gather round the hearth, snuggle up under furs, and eat out of wooden bowls, and you can even kit yourself out in authentic costumes.
Details: Rates from €500; irishheritage.ie
9. Wicklow Head Lighthouse, Co Wicklow
While there are a fair few lighthouse accommodations around the country, the majority are actually lighthouse keepers’ cottages. So, if you want to stay in the tower itself, it’s best to head to the Wicklow Head Lighthouse. This octagonal structure dates back to 1781 and is surrounded by the sea on three sides, the ocean views seeping in through giant windows. An added bonus? The kitchen is up on the top floor, 109 steps from the base, which means you’ll have buns of steel by the end of your trip. It sleeps up to four.
Details: From €644 for two nights; irishlandmark.com
10. Yellow Submarine, Co Monaghan
You can’t get much quirkier than sleeping in a yellow submarine. This former lifeboat is parked up on the banks of the Dromore River (where you can also go on guided canoe trips for €20pp), and has cool touches like porthole windows made from scrap washing machines and a periscope. It’s completely off-grid and fairly basic inside, and there’s no shower. But who needs one when you can go to sleep pretending you’re under the sea? The property made our Fab 50 list of the best places to stay in Ireland this year, and was featured on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces on Channel 4, where the presenter dubbed it “one of the most surreal, eccentric, bonkers but brilliant amazing spaces”.
Details: Rates from €100 for two people; instagram.com/yellowsubmarineglamping
11. Conroy’s Old Bar, Co Tipperary
It is possible to fall asleep in a pub without questioning all of your life choices. Conroy’s Old Bar is a quaint, traditional pub that no longer serves alcohol, but welcomes up to four people who want to soak up the atmosphere of a boozer. One bedroom is in the former snug, another is in the barrel store, and there’s a cute lounge with a fireplace. You can play darts in the main pub, where the kitchen is cleverly tucked in behind the bar, and there’s a garden out the back, too. You’d want to be quick, though — it’s currently up for sale, so the owner is only taking bookings three months into the future. Details: Rates from €200 for two adults for two nights; conroysoldbar.com
12. Slow Cabins, somewhere in Connaught
Despite a bit of a delay due to the pandemic, the much-hyped Slow Cabins will be popping up in a mystery coastal location in Connaught in August. These minimalist cabins — a Belgian concept — are completely off-grid and designed to leave minimal impact on the earth. The company also plants a tree for every booking made, and has already planted hundreds of native trees in Ireland ahead of the launch. Inside, things are pared back and simple, with the focus on the outdoors best seen through the panoramic window right next to the bed.
Details: Rates from €250 per night; slowcabins.ie
13. Clissmann Horse Caravans, Co Wicklow
This spot has been run by the same family since 1969, offering holidays in traditional horse-drawn caravans. You have the option between a stationary stay or horse-drawn tour, with the (well-cared for) horses pulling your caravan on a little jaunt around Wicklow. If you’d rather stay in one spot but still get a taste of the experience, you can head off on a two-and-a-half-hour guided tour of the farm. Otherwise, you can always potter around and say hello to the horses and donkeys who call it home.
Details: Stationary caravans from €95; clissmannhorsecaravans.com
14. The Birdbox, Co Donegal
Snuggled in around the trunks of mature oak and pine trees, the Birdbox is the ultimate escape from the modern world. Walk along the rope bridge to enter your little haven and you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away, with nothing to do but play board games, listen to music and sit in front of the wood-burning stove. But really, it’ll be hard to tear yourself away from the views of the gorgeous Glenveagh National Park, from the floor-to-ceiling windows or the porthole window next to the bed. There are two other properties on site, too — a converted barn and a glass-fronted cabin.
Details: Rates from €85 per night; airbnb.ie/rooms/33555485
15. The Oat Box Horsebox, Co Antrim
This converted 1968 horse lorry is the ultimate in cottagecore chic, with vintage-style touches but luxe, modern necessities, like a full-sized shower and loo. The king-sized bed is found up a little ladder, which adds to the cosy vibes, and there’s a full outside space, too, for stargazing and sunset drinks. The owners have just completed renovations on a dinky 1960s caravan, where guests can hang out, and they also have a cabin just outside Bushmills.
Details: Rates from €163; airbnb.ie/rooms/44430256
16. Bookeen Hall, Co Galway
Often, the quirkiest rentals are for exclusive hire, meaning the cost can tot up. But Bookeen Hall, a converted church dating back to 1820, is a private home with just one guest room to rent on a B&B basis, with a second available if a group is larger. That means you get all the fun of staying in a beautiful old church, without the big bill. Your bedroom has private access to the tower, and the light spills through the top of the Gothic windows. You can also chill out in the spacious lounge, complete with squishy sofas and a fire.
Details: Nightly rates from €130 for two; bookeenhall.com
17. Roisin Dubh Houseboat, Co Kildare
There’s nothing quite like sleeping on a boat, especially one where you don’t have to do any steering. The Roisin Dubh Houseboat is docked on the Grand Canal in Sallins, so you can nip out easily for coffee or lunch before the ever-so-gentle rocking helps you drift off come night-time. The master cabin is in the bow, there’s another bedroom, and there’s a sofa bed in the living room, so it could sleep up to six, at a push. There’s also a Canadian canoe that fits six available for guests to use.
Details: Rates from €129; bargetrip.ie
NB: All prices subject to change/availability.