Places to sleep in Ireland are as varied as the landscape. Hotels, bed & breakfasts, and hostels can be found near every scenic vista and bustling town. But why opt for a traditional stay when, with only a little searching, you can spend the night in a truly unique Irish lodging?
The Old Bank
The céad míle fáilte (hundred thousand welcomes) is evident the moment you walk in the door of this historic banking townhouse in the village of Bruff, County Limerick.
Left empty for years the vision of proprietress Miriam Barry gave this building a new life as The Old Bank B&B, the only lodging in this quaint village south of Limerick city. Deluxe rooms with custom four poster beds and jacuzzi tubs bear names – The Treasury, Nest Egg, and Healthy Balance- that remind visitors of the building’s original purpose. Connecting rooms, perfect for families, are spacious and comfortable.
Touches of banking remain in the stately ground floor sitting room where a cashier’s window serves as the business center. Pass through the door into the dining room where Miriam serves a fabulous Irish breakfast with the best meats available- her husband is the butcher.
Bruff is a wonderful ‘home base’ for touring the west of Ireland, and Miriam is a wonderful guide who can point you to destinations visitors often overlook.
The Camping Pod
Situated above the village of Drimoleague overlooking the Castledonovan hills, Top of the Rock Pod Pairc and Walking Centre offers guests a taste of Irish camping with a very historic appeal. Their camping pods, the first in Ireland, are designed in the style of the Gallarus Oratory, a small 8th century church on the Dingle Peninsula.
The pods are designed to utilize every bit of space. Luxury pods, perfect for two or a family of 4, hold a comfortable bed with storage beneath, a futon for sitting or sleeping, a mini kitchen (with microwave, fridge, and sink), and a small water closet. The front patio is an exceptional spot to greet the morning with a cup of tea and fresh baked scone or to greet the evening with a pint and conversation.
The walking centre operates as a hostel, with full kitchen, laundry, showers, wifi and a game room for days when outdoor explorations may be preferable due to inclement weather.
Those trekking to Donegal, Ireland’s most northwesterly county, will find a couple sleeping carriages perfect for the traveler with ‘itchy feet’.
The Wanderly Wagon, a restored Gypsy caravan, sits in a quiet meadow under mature trees near Fintown. Comfortable for two or a family of four, the wagon has running water and a tiny kitchen. A tidy stone path leads to your private outdoor sitting area, while a bit further on you’ll find shower and bathroom facilities. For those who don’t want to prepare food the on-site B&B offers meals on request.
For a carriage of a different sort, travel north along the Wild Atlantic Way to Corcreggan Mill for a stay in one of the restored mahogany railway cars which have been converted to cozy guest quarters at this popular hostel. Choose a car with a very cozy double bed or a pair of bunk beds built of railroad ties. The ‘railway station’ behind your train car offers sitting room, self catering kitchen, and dining room. Dedicated showers and toilets are available in each carriage, and an extensive Continental breakfast buffet is offered to each guest.
The Luxury Glamping Experience
If you like the idea of camping but prefer a luxury experience try glamping at Dromquinna Manor on the famed Ring Of Kerry. The large one or two room tents feature sumptuous beds atop log bases and easy access to all amenities.
Begin your morning by drawing back the doors and enjoying the view of Kenmare bay with a breakfast hamper of freshly brewed coffee, croissants, and juice to enjoy while relaxing on your covered veranda, rain or shine.
Glamping guests have access to a central area for barbecues and campfires and are welcome to take advantage of all amenities and dining offered at this ocean-side estate.
The Private Castle
For a truly majestic experience consider renting Knappogue Castle in County Clare. The 17th century tower house is home to nightly Medieval banquets in the high season (April thru October), but few visitors receive a key to the castle and climb the red carpeted steps to the private quarters.
Sitting rooms and bedrooms filled with furnishings from antique to contemporary are scattered over two floors offering space for up to 10. Each morning your ‘fairy godmothers’ will deliver a Full Irish breakfast from the modern kitchen just beyond the dining area (which you are welcome to use for the rest of your meals).
Enjoy quiet afternoon tea in the blue and gold sitting room, or peaceful solitude in the magnificent walled garden at the rear of the castle. It’s your space to live like a king… if only for a few days.