The Ireland B&B is the choice accommodation for most people. Often run by the owners and their families, there isn’t any better way to be immersed in Irish culture and hospitality. The bed and breakfast can be as small as one or two guest rooms with a shared bathroom or as large as 10-15 rooms ensuite (private bathroom connected to your room). More often than not, most Irish B&B’s have three to five rooms in a separate wing attached to the family’s home.
Finding and Booking a B&B
You will not find any shortage of bed and breakfasts in Ireland. Rarely will you even have a problem showing up in a town and finding a room for that night. However, I always recommend booking your first and last nights. Double-check ahead that you won’t be arriving on a holiday or during festival, which may make accommodation scarce in some areas.
If you are a planner or want the best of the best B&B’s which often fill up, book in advance. Most bed and breakfasts have an electronic reservation system on their website or an e-mail address to send an inquiry directly to the owner. A simple Google search for “bed and breakfast” and the name of town will usually give you a variety of initial places to begin your investigation. The websites below are quite helpful too.
I usually don’t book a B&B unless it has several pictures of the rooms and the common areas on their website or favorable reviews on Trip Advisor. While I have never had a bad B&B, they do exist. With just a little research you shouldn’t need to worry too much.
Depending on how long you stay, you can often receive discounts for reservations for more than two or three nights. Also, don’t forget to ask for the lowest rate available. Sometimes if you speak to the owner, they might be willing to lower their costs to fill a bed if it would otherwise go unused.
Room prices are listed per person per night. If you are traveling as a couple, you will need to double the cost listed. If you are traveling solo, you may need to pay a single supplement fee (up to half the cost of another person) in addition to the per person rate.
Confirm your reservation at least a week before you leave for your trip. Simply send an e-mail confirming the date(s) of your stay and the approximate time of arrival. Also ask for directions if they are not already listed on the website. Printing and placing this information in a binder or a Dropbox on your phone is very helpful to keep you organized while on your trip.
Check-in is usually between 3:00 and 6:00 PM unless otherwise noted on their website or pre-arranged. If however, you are unable to arrive at that time be sure to call ahead and let them know. It would be inappropriate to make them wait for an extended period (and you might find yourself out of a room if you check-in really late). An Irish bed and breakfast is much different from an American hotel. The owner often runs the show and is opening up their home to you. They may need to run errands or move about their daily work. Be kind and courteous.
After checking-in, you will receive a room key as well as a front door key. After 9 or 10 o’clock, the front door is usually locked for the safety of the family and guests. You are free to go in and out as you please. But similar to any hotel-like situation, if you are coming in from a late night on the town be respectful of others who are perhaps already asleep nearby.
Your host will often ask you what time you would like breakfast the next morning. Some will even have a menu for you to select breakfast options. If for no other reason, a full Irish breakfast is a fantastic and delicious reason to stay at a bed and breakfast in Ireland. You will want to mention any dietary restrictions you have at this time. Most owners will be as accommodating as possible.
While credit cards are widely accepted, some bed and breakfasts accept cash only. Check with your host upon arrival or be ready to have cash available on the day of your departure.
In Ireland, you do not need to tip the bed and breakfast staff. All services and fees are built into the cost of your room. Again, most often it will be your host providing the usual maintenance. If you feel they have gone above and beyond the requirements, a small monetary contribution may be appreciated, but it is not expected.
Other Helpful Tips
The Irish are notoriously chatty and your bed and breakfast hosts will no doubt be some of the most gregarious of the bunch. Use this to your advantage and ask for recommendations for sites to visit, places to eat or off the beaten track treasures. They will usually be a font of information and give you tips the guidebooks are sure not to have. It is also a great idea to talk to other travelers around the breakfast table. People from all walks of life, countries and Ireland travel itineraries will give you a variety of things to discuss.
In some places, the hot water in your room may need to be turned on by your host. Water is always warm in the morning and at night, but if you want to shower midday check the temperature before jumping in.
Many bed and breakfasts have family pets. If you are allergic, ask about where “Spot” is allowed to roam. Pets are almost always sequestered in another part of the house, but it might call for consideration for the highly allergic.
Almost all European rooms are smaller than the US standard. It is always good to remember this when you don’t have a desk or that extra chair in the room. Again, take a look at the pictures provided on the website. It should give you a good idea of the room size and its amenities.