A Self-catering residence is a fully furnished short-term rental unit—a house, apartment/ flat, or even a thatched cottage. It is 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 camp. 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.
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 be 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. Begin your search for a place to rent with homes 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 places to rent a self-catering unit 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, but not pay any attention to how far way the main roads are. Distant locations can add up to an hour of travel each day.
Utilize the website www.aaroadwatch.ie for travel times in between two locations. It is pretty accurate, but of course doesn’t count all the times you will pullover over for breathtaking Irish vistas, so you might want put aside some extra time. I’d suggest adding 20% plus some time for stopping. 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.
When you arrive at your rental, the owner or site manager should walk you through the property. You will learn about key items like the heating unit, hot water heater, dishwasher, TV/DVD player, and washer and dryer. Of course you get the keys and any special instructions.
Depending on how far away the proprietor lives, you may or may not see him throughout the week. So, be sure you ask lots of questions while he is there. He should, however, give you a phone number or a way to contact him if there were 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 ensure no surprised 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 are common.
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 arrive.
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, you can do the same 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.