Cabin fever: 12 get-away-from-it-all cabins to retreat to this autumn

Cabins, huts and yurts are springing up around Ireland, and if you thought getting back to basics meant having to deal with basic facilities, think again

Maybe it’s the Marie Antoinette effect — the more you have, the more you seek the simple. When the French queen found the palace at Versailles a bit much, she would head to her Petit Trianon chateau and play at enjoying a more modest life. In fairness, the Petit Trianon is still a bit on the fancy side, so perhaps we should look to WB Yeats instead when we want to explore the allure of the rural retreat. As all Leaving Cert students learn, Yeats yearned for his small clay-and-wattle cabin, nine bean rows and a spot of lake water lapping. It is an enduring sentiment.

Cabins, huts and yurts are springing up around Ireland, and if you thought getting back to basics meant having to deal with basic facilities, think again. Today’s cabin retreats have endless style and range from the child-friendly to the great craic and the ultra romantic, while dishing up all you could ask for in the pared-down-but-still-lovely simplicity stakes. They can also give you a nice adventurous mini-break at a fraction of the cost of a full-on hotel experience.

Further Space

From sites across Co Antrim, to Fourth Mountain, Co Wexford, Further Space does glamping pods that sleep up to four. Add double beds with lovely linen, showers and a coffee dock, as well as bunk beds for extra bodies, and you’re spoiled for choice. Some sites are pet friendly, and you’ll also find fire pits for autumn evenings. Discover more sites at Carrickreagh Bay in Co Fermanagh, and Kinelarty in Co Down. Prices for two nights at the weekend, for two adults and two children, start at £300, including a campfire experience. Add an extra night midweek for the same price;


Blackwater Eco Tours, Villierstown, Co Waterford

A perfect jumping-off point to explore the Blackwater Valley, Villierstown is a gorgeous heritage village, leading down to the water’s edge. Blackwater Eco Tours is a community initiative offering guided river tours, kayaking, self-drive boats and more. They can also show you the way to plenty of river and walking trails, so set up camp to fully explore in one of their four accommodation pods. Each sleeps up to five, and contains a shower, bathroom and kitchenette. From €95 per pod, per night.

Lough Mardal, Co Donegal

The lodge and luxury yurts at Lough Mardal have a sort of safari vibe; you can almost imagine wildebeest outside your door. But if it’s cabin life you crave, they also have these on offer, in the form of shepherds’ huts. Dating back to the 15th century (though not these specific ones), the little wheeled cabins were for sleeping out in the fields during lambing season. These days, they’re luxuriously furnished, with king-sized beds and crisp white linen. From €110 for two per night;

Blackstairs Eco Trails, Co Carlow

Stay overnight in a shepherd’s hut at Blackstairs Eco Trails, and you get a free stargazing experience. Take advantage of the lack of light pollution as you’ll be given a calendar of the night sky, plus cosy rugs, hot chocolate and marshmallows. You can also book foraging, find out about fungi and discover what the Celts had to say about trees; all in the grounds of the Victorian Old Rectory. Guests have the use of a converted barn for washing and cooking, with breakfast provided in the barn in the morning. Two nights for two costs €160 including breakfast;

Rock Farm, Slane, Co Meath

A working farm on the Slane Castle estate, Rock Farm has houses, huts and glamping options, all on the banks of the river Boyne. Try one of the two shepherds’ huts, which sleep two, or Swallow’s Nest with a little more space — in that you can add a travel cot if required. Feeling a bit friendlier than that? Lime House is Ireland’s largest straw bale eco lodge and sleeps up to 22, with rooms available individually. Also on site is an outdoor wooden hot tub, a natural swimming pool, and there’s a weekly farmers’ market so you can stock up on goodies for your stay. Shepherds’ huts from €117 for two nights for two people;

Clissman Horse Cabins, Co Wicklow

Get back to basics (without the skills needed to hitch up a horse) and connect with nature in one of these colourful tiny homes on a family-friendly farm. A short distance from Glendalough, the handcrafted, traditional caravans and shepherds’ huts offer a snug glamping experience. Stay out late by the fire pit with a mug of something warm and enjoy the magic of a dark, starry night in the Wicklow mountains. The caravans sleep a couple or family with small kids, from €95 a night. You can take the caravan on the road with a horse for a three-day trek, from €580 per caravan.

Cabü by the Lakes, Co Cavan

Nestled deep in the woods of Killykeen Forest Park in Co Cavan, Cabü offers luxuriously furnished, interior-designed cabins in a range of different sizes, providing the perfect nature escape for couples or families. The timber cabins are designed for all seasons; whether you are looking to snuggle up by the fire in a woodland cabin in winter (with books, treats and games provided) or rent the boathouse with lake views in summer. If you can unstick yourself from the beautifully designed interiors, the site offers boating, bicycle hire, outdoor hot tubs and a sauna as well as unlimited forest bathing. A midweek stay starts from €486 for two nights.

Fernwood Farm Forest Dome, Co Galway

Part cabin, part geodesic dome, this self-contained bliss bubble is nestled within a forest canopy, five metres off the woodland floor. The entrance porch is made from cedarwood shingles and is stocked with firewood. The dome itself sits on a wooden deck where you can sit back and absorb the grounding sounds of nature, before stepping into the dome to luxuriate in the five-star hotel quality interior, with a super-king bed, wood-burning stove, a hot water rain shower and cooking facilities. There’s a lakeside sauna on site, with additional accommodation in the recently opened Stilt House, all located at the beginning of the Connemara Greenway, just minutes from Clifden. From €200 per night.

CroPod, Co Donegal

A contemporary mountain pod on the Wild Atlantic Way, this bespoke retreat is a perfect escape for writers or nature lovers craving the wilderness. Perplexed at the cramped conditions of other glamping options, the owners built this underground shelter flooded with light, and lined with oak, overlooking a coastal mountain lake. The surrounding area has many fence-free walks to enjoy, including a trek to the remote mountain cottage where Dylan Thomas stayed to write. The CroPod is built for two, with additional accommodation down the path at the Escape Cottage. From €210 for two nights via Airbnb.

The Birdbox, Co Donegal

A tiny retreat for two adults, the Birdbox is a cosy, handcrafted treehouse nestled in the branches of beautiful oak and Scots pine trees with views of Glenveagh National Park. The 30m wooden walkway to your cabin through mature trees is enough in itself to dissolve any residual stress. Complete with rope bridge and loft bed, the Birdbox is available from €85 per night via Airbnb.

The Ladybird chalet at the Old Rectory, Co Wicklow

If you want to bring the whole family or a group of friends along on your nature retreat, this six-bedroom chalet with full kitchen, patio and fire pit can accommodate up to 12 guests. Surrounded by mature gardens boasting a variety of plants and flowers as well as a willow labyrinth, the Old Rectory in the west Wicklow mountains offers other accommodation options; children and teenagers will especially love the converted attic rooms or nearby wooden caravan, for the ultimate sleepover experience. From €200 per night.

Ark Ranch Treehouse, Macroom, Co Cork

Enjoying an al-fresco breakfast on the balcony of this handcrafted tree house, you’ll feel like you’ve woken up in the jungle, nestled among the trees and ferns on an organic farm. The bright and airy interior has a sleep space for two under the eaves of a mezzanine, with a sofa bed for additional guests downstairs. The treehouse has its own hot shower, flushing toilet and wood-burning stove. Perfect as a base to explore Lough Allua and the wilds of Cork and Kerry. From €125 per night.

Gemma Tipton

Gemma Tipton

Gemma Tipton contributes to The Irish Times on art, architecture and other aspects of culture