Planning a staycation? There’s room at the inn - but be sure to shop around

Irish Times readers report mixed success in finding a place to stay this summer

Many people are taking holidays at home as foreign travel is off the table. File photograph of the Waterford Greenway: Bryan O’Brien

Many people are taking holidays at home as foreign travel is off the table. File photograph of the Waterford Greenway: Bryan O’Brien

 

With time fast running out for people to organise alternative summer holiday plans and international travel still off the table, some would-be homegrown tourists have expressed concern about availability and high prices in Ireland.

However others have said they have found very good value accommodation while those working in the hospitality sector have insisted there are deals to be done and plenty of accommodation available in the hotel sector while admitting that self-catering and camping holiday options are more limited as a result of high demand in recent weeks.

According to figures from the Irish Hotel Federation occupancy rates in August are running at less than 30 per cent while the figures for September look set to be even more grim.

“International tourism accounts for around 75 per cent of the hotel business and that has all dried up this year so there are buckets of empty rooms even with the reduced capacity in hotels and when the schools go back in September the demand will fall even further,” Eoghan O’Meara Walsh from the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation said.

“I know that there is talk of high demand and high prices but it is only anecdotal and maybe some areas will do well for a week or two or over weekends this month and next but things are still very quiet. Dublin in particular is a ghost town as it is not where Irish people looking to go on holiday typically choose. The Wild Atlantic Way from Donegal to Cork is doing alright but across the board occupancy levels are low and there is value to be found.”

Dingle was almost sold out, but I did find a lovely, recently renovated cottage in Dingle town

Shop around

That certainly seems to be the experience of readers who have contacted The Irish Times, although many of the stories they have to tell do point to the need to shop around.

“We’re just back from a five-day break in Galway and Athlone,” said Laura Conway. “We booked the Connacht Hotel over a month ago and got a two bedroom suite for two adults and two teenagers for €201 a night, no breakfast, for three nights. I was getting quotes from hotels up to €300 or €400 a night in Galway so we were delighted with that.”

She added that on their last night in the west the family decided “to not go home so we contacted the Hodson Bay and booked for the next night and got a room for four including breakfast for €210. As we arrived we loved the look of it so on check-in my husband asked for could be book another night and they had availability so we got that for €330. Our oldest decided to join us for the last night and the hotel gave us an extra room and included breakfast for our son all for €50 extra.”

Bebhinn Kelly struggled to find decent accommodation in her holiday destination of choice however. “We have been looking to book a house for the last week in August, before schools return (hopefully!),” she said.

She tried to book two properties in Kerry. The first she found on daft.ie and the price quoted for a week was €700 . “When we enquired we were informed this was low season pricing and it was actually €1,000 per week. The second was on Airbnb and total for the week was quoted as €852. We received a message from the host to say the price had reverted to a lower price and it was infact €1053 for the week.”

Dublin has been like a ghostown with many people looking to holiday elsewhere in Ireland. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Dublin has been like a ghostown with many people looking to holiday elsewhere in Ireland. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

She pointed out that her family holiday in the area regularly and “typically high season (end of July/start of August) would see prices reach €750-€850 per week. Prices for either side of that would be circa €600 for early July and late August. June and Sept in previous years would be around €500 per week.”

This year she has decided against Kerry “and are considering day trips instead”.

Joe Fennell said he had “no problem getting accommodation on Airbnb and still great value too”. He found four nights in Donegal for €280 with the accommodation comprising a bedroom living room/kitchen plus bathroom and private parking.

Louise Bunyun was looking for a small place to staycation for a few nights, anytime between now and the end of August. She said she is self-employed with no kids and has “complete freedom and could go whenever. But I could not find anything on Airbnb for West Cork. Dingle was almost sold out, but I did find a lovely, recently renovated cottage in Dingle town, middle of August for a Wednesday-Sunday was €200 a night, minimum stay four nights, plus cleaning fee & Airbnb charge came to €1,005. No way, especially as there was only one bathroom.”

Instead she opted for Liscannor in Clare for six nights instead, in the middle of August. She has booked a “lovely two-bed en-suite apartment, through Airbnb, apartment for €100 a night so €757 including cleaning fee and Airbnb fee.”

Aoife Fletcher and her family made up of two adults and three children stayed in the Twelve in Barna outside Galway city for two nights. “It cost us €500 B&B and we got a family suite which was basically two rooms with an interconnecting door. I literally only booked it the Friday before we arrived. Our difficultly was trying to find a family room big enough to fit us all. We had a lovely stay and staff were excellent and the girls had a ball.”

We also got in touch with hotels around the country and while some are fully booked out there are rooms available in many others

Faithlegg House Hotel in Waterford is, we were told, “more or less at capacity now until early September”.

Fully booked

The Twelve in Galway has limited availability with rooms available from €175 B&B while Dunmore House Hotel outside Clonakilty is “completely and fully booked until September. In September they are also very busy with very limited availability,” a spokeswoman said.

The recently opened Hard Rock Hotel in Dublin said there had been a “slow start to bookings at the hotel for summer staycations but [WE][ have seen a significant pick up in the last few weeks from domestic travelers. There Is still availability midweek and weekends.

The Dublin Rocks package includes a one or two night stay with bed & breakfast and dinner on one evening with a signature pisco sour to start the evening for €285 for one night and €465 for a two night stay.

The Galmont Hotel & Spa in has availability midweek and weekends.

The Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Dublin has availability midweek and at weekends with a two night family break for two adults and two children staying in one of their brand new family rooms available from €200 per room per night.

The Shelbourne, meanwhile, has midweek and weekend availability with the Shelbourne Escape with prices starting at €299 per room and the Clontarf Castle Hotel also has availability for summer staycations with a two night stay from €140 per person sharing with an option to add on third night with 30 per cent discount.

For people who want to cross a border while still following the rules, there is the Hasting Hotel Group in Northern Ireland. Rates vary across the chain but B&B at Ballygally Castle is available £60 per person sharing while Culloden Hotel is £105 per person sharing and the Slieve Donard Resort is available for - £85 per person.

For those who really want to spoil themselves there is always the five-star Dromoland Casgtle where a one night indulgence package is on the table. Guests will get “a magnificent Stateroom [AND]champagne and mini petit fours on arrival.”

They will then self-Explore the 450 acres estate using a Dromoland Buggy and have a candlelit dinner overlooking Lough Dromoland followed by a bed for the night, breakfast the following moring and the a meeting with the hotel’s falconer for a private falconry lesson. Then there’s a “decadent Picnic for two in our enchanting Walled Garden before departure.

And the price? It’s €1550. Sounds lovely though!