Self-catering in Ireland is renting a fully furnished short-term rental—a house, apartment/ flat, or even a thatched cottage. It’s great for families needing a little more space or those who want to immerse themselves in the local scenery and take day trips from a base. Ireland self-catering also allows the freedom to come and go everyday without having to check in to a new bed and breakfast or hotel. You won’t have to worry about moving luggage or figuring out directions to a new destination.
Rentals are often for a minimum of a week (Saturday to Saturday). If you are staying in the off-season (October-May) or book last-minute, you may be able to snag a shorter stay, mid-week or weekend. By renting for a whole week instead of daily, you save a few dollars and are able to cook a meal or two on your own.
There are self-catering cottages all over Ireland. It is best to find an area of the country that you would like to explore the most. Search for a place to rent central to the sites you would like to see.
Try not to plan trips that would have you in the car for more than an hour and half each way. For example, Killarney or Kenmare are great towns in the Southwest because there is so much do within a short distance. Don’t make the mistake of booking a cottage in a beautiful, remote location if you plan on traveling to new sites far away each day.
Utilize the website www.aaroadwatch.ie or Google maps for travel times in between two locations. It is pretty accurate, but of course doesn’t count for sheep, tractors, construction and all the times you’ll want to pullover over for breathtaking Irish vistas. So add 20-30% more time. Of course if you are looking to hole away for several days on end, a distant cottage may be just what you need.
Booking a Self-Catering Cottage
You can begin your search by using the websites below to get an idea of availability and the general costs for the area you would like to stay. Most websites have reviews, pictures, and contact information.
Booking directly with an owner and not through a reservation site allows the host to keep all the profit. The owners usually appreciate it and it also ensures that you will get the best deal.
Similar to booking a Bed and Breakfast, you can also look for an self-catering unit by completing internet search for self-catering cottage plus the Irish town you are intending to make your base. If it is central location, there will undoubtedly be many options available.
AirBnB (Affiliate Link: $20 credit on your first stay)
When you arrive at your rental, the owner or site manager should walk you through the property. You should learn about operating the heating unit, hot water heater, dishwasher, TV/DVD player, washer and dryer, etc. Of course you’ll get the keys and any special instructions.
Depending on how far away the proprietors lives, you may or may not see them throughout the week. So, be sure you ask lots of questions while they are there. They should, however, give you a phone number in case there are any further questions or an emergency.
Payment is usually collected upon arrival. Depending on the self-catering that you selected, you may need to pay cash. Small operations with one or two units, may not find it beneficial to use credit cards because of the service charges they incur. Larger companies will have a machine available for processing. As always if you use credit, be sure that they charge in your Euros. You will get a better exchange rate this way.
Use of the Cottage
As mentioned above, self-catering units are fully furnished. Be sure to read the website or exchange e-mails with the owner about what is exactly available. If you plan to cook many of your meals in, you will want to know if there are condiments, saucepans, etc. available. You might want to know about bath and kitchen towels, linens, and utensils. If you plan to hiking or have kids, knowing the laundry facilities can prove vital. These items are almost always included, but it is best to verify to make sure no surprises when you arrive.
Often, the proprietors will give you a welcome kit/starter pack that will get you through a day or two. Fresh baked scones, a small container of milk, local bread, and even a bottle of wine isn’t uncommon.
Cooking and Cleaning
Remember that others used the space before you and will likely use it directly after you too. Wash the plates, silverware, etc. when you leave.
There may be a variety of non-perishables in the cupboards left by the owners or other tenants for you to use. Always check expiration dates. If you have leftover unopened non-perishables, ask if you can leave them behind for future guests.
Keep the place clean. It will be much easier when you have to leave. Read your rental agreement about taking out the trash and general clean up upon departure. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink or food in the refrigerator. It takes a lot of work turning over an apartment in just a few short hours. Owners of self-catering cottages really appreciate the care you take in their home.