I love Airbnb. Most of my generation has used it at some point or another. I personally use it for longer stays or if I can’t find a decent hotel that fits my budget. But… before Airbnb showed up with its fancy algorithms to connect hosts with guests all over the world, there was the old school B&B. And Ireland is the perfect place to re-experience the traditional B&B. And before you worry about ratings and reviews, registered Irish B&Bs are star rated by Fàilte Ireland: the National Tourism Development Authority. Whilst Booking.com has some B&B options, I found it fairly limited if you’re looking for something off the beaten path.
A bit more Googling later, I found Bed and Breakfast Ireland. How it works: you pay a deposit (around 10%) when you book and the rest upon arrival. Most B&B owners prefer to receive cash and from my experience, you don’t pay till checkout. In addition to the Tourism Authority’s star ratings, there are also user reviews on the website. Yippie!
I loved staying at these B&Bs. Meeting the hosts, staying in their homes and experiencing the warmth of Irish hospitality will go down in my history as some of my best memories of Ireland. I can’t recommend this experience highly enough.
Corrib View Country House, Oughterard
The first B&B we stayed in was Corrib View Country House. Located in Oughterard Connemara, it’s around a 30 minute drive away from Galway City. I don’t often get the chance to spend time in the countryside so I loved staring out at the beautiful lake right in front of the property. There’s even a little swing so that you can hang around outside and take in the view and fresh air first thing in the morning. The room was very comfortable, spacious and quiet. It’s the best night of sleep I had in Dublin.
Our host was a lovely lady called Ethel. It was my first time staying in an Irish B&B and Ethel exemplified the meaning of warm Irish hospitality. After staying in a small-ish city apartment in Dublin, it was nice being in a wonderful cosy spacious home. Apparently the eggs I ate at breakfast came from a chicken that belongs to her sister. Yum, yum.
Seashore B&B, Sligo
The second place we stayed in was Seashore B&B in Sligo. To tell you the truth, we didn’t have any good reason for going to Sligo. We chose it as a stopping point on our road trip between Galway City and the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Like the name suggests, this B&B also had a beautiful view. There were some sheep and cows near the property, too. As a city girl, it’s not something I get to experience everyday.
Our hosts were Willie and Ann – both of whom have a great sense of humour and had us laughing the moment we walked through the door. I really enjoyed meeting them as much as I enjoyed the idyllic countryside. The goat’s cheese at breakfast was really something. I’m surprised I didn’t finish all of it… But then again, I needed to keep some space for the scones. YUM!
Riverside Restaurant and Guesthouse, Charlestown
We didn’t spend the night at the Riverside Restaurant and Guesthouse, but this is where we had dinner on route to Sligo. I was expecting typical pub grub, but it turned out being one of the best meals I had in Ireland. The pork ribs were so tender that they were sliding off the bone the moment I put my fork in it. The cod pasta was just divine. I don’t know what was in that sauce but… I still have dreams about it.
The service was also friendly and exemplified that warm Irish hospitality. If I’m ever back in Ireland, I’ll come back here just to eat.
Wow, just wow.
Keef Halla – Belfast, Northern Ireland
Of all the B&Bs I stayed in, Keef Halla was the nicest in terms of the house itself. Everything was ultra modern and clean and spacious and all those wonderful things that make you want to jump in the bed the moment you get in and forget to take a photograph. Oops…
The dining area was delightful, the breakfast was delicious and I even enjoyed the morning coffee. We arrived pretty late, so I only met Charles who showed us our rooms and made sure we were comfortable. By the way – this place probably had a really nice bathroom.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally found it hard to warm up to people in Northern Ireland (and vice versa). Don’t get me wrong – no one was ever impolite, but it was very different from Ireland where people begin treating you like family even though they’ve only known you for five minutes.
I love Airbnb. I really do. But there’s something about doing it the old school way that is just so incredibly charming.
Till next time – have a hearty breakfast.