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Choosing a Bed and Breakfast in Ireland (and the Best B&Bs in Ireland!)

Bed & Breakfast sign

You’ve spent a wonderful day sightseeing in the Irish countryside and you’ve pulled up to your lodging for the night. Your host warmly welcomes you with a hot cup of tea and a biscuit. You relax in an over-sized chair in the sitting room and warm yourself by a crackling fire. This scene isn’t fantasy, its reality nearly every day in Ireland’s fantastic bed and breakfasts.

There are plenty of bed and breakfasts in Ireland and Northern Ireland, but standards vary wildly. On our most recent trip to Ireland, we were faced with a decision early in the planning process – where to stay? Ireland has a long tradition of B&Bs and they are very popular with travelers.

Find your B&B in Ireland here!

Historically, it was common for Irish families to rent out the extra room in their house for a night and staying with a family puts you in closer proximity to the Irish people. But, how do you choose a great Irish bed and breakfast inn? Do you book your B&B individually or do you sign up for one of the bed and breakfast voucher schemes? Here is everything you need to know about B&Bs in Ireland.

Ireland Bed and Breakfast Vouchers

There are a number voucher schemes (including the popular Go-As-You-Please Ireland B&B Vouchers), but most travelers don’t really understand how they work. If you book an Ireland bed and breakfast tour, you get transportation and accommodations for a fixed cost. You will know your final cost when you book the trip. It sounds great, right? But…

In exchange for the certainty of pre-booking your trip, you give up flexibility. And you’ll likely pay a higher price. Also, your vouchers may only be accepted at a handful of B&Bs in a given city. If you try to use an Ireland bed and breakfast guide book to plan your trip, only a small number of properties will be available to you. If you can’t find a B&B in a particular city, you may need to pay out of your own pocket (in essence paying twice). You may also find out that B&B owners aren’t particularly thrilled with accepting vouchers, which is why so many don’t or they will tell voucher customers that the inn is full.

Rather than get locked into vouchers, when it comes to how to choose a bed and breakfast in Ireland, we recommend researching specific options and booking online so you can pay by credit card. The guide to Irish bed and breakfasts below will tell you what you need to know to select a B&B as well as our recommendations throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland.

What to Consider When Selecting a B&B in Ireland

There are five criteria to consider in selecting a bed and breakfast in Ireland:

Location

B&B’s in Ireland can be located anywhere – from the heart of a city to a farm in the country. We recommend experiencing a mix of village and farm B&Bs during your trip. We generally look for places that are within 1 km of a town – we like to go to the pub after dinner and don’t want to drive after we’ve been indulging. Also, we always look for accommodations with parking. While Ireland is much better than the European continent in terms of on-street parking, it’s just easier to not have to look.

Bed and table in a bedroom
A typical bedroom in an Irish B&B

Cost

Each host sets their own prices, so there is a great deal of variation in costs. Our experience is to plan on about $50-60 per person, per night (or $100-$120 per night for a couple). You’ll get a really nice room with a private en suite bathroom and off-street parking for that price, plus breakfast. Sure, some places are cheaper and some are more expensive, but that is a good benchmark. It’s also common that many of the B&Bs in a general area charge roughly the same price. It’s not exactly price-fixing, but is…well…kind of price fixing.

As we mentioned above, there are numerous booking services and several different voucher schemes available. We generally prefer to research individual properties directly and then either pay cash upon checkout or book via an online booking service (as opposed to the various voucher schemes).

It is extremely unusual to find a B&B accepting credit cards directly so booking services may be a better way to go if you want to pay with plastic. We recommend looking at Booking.com for hotels as well as B&Bs and country inns. [There are also some B&B offerings on Airbnb, but they tend to be a little more expensive.]

Bathroom with toilet and bathtubs
The Facilities at Shola Coach House

Bathroom

One of the most important considerations at a B&B in Ireland is the bathroom. Historically, when the Irish rented out spare rooms in their homes, you were sharing a bathroom with either the family or other guests. Many travelers, particularly those from America, are unaccustomed to the shared bathroom and would rather skip that aspect of mingling.

Over the last decade or so, the majority of Irish bed and breakfasts have moved to private bathrooms (or, as they are called here, en suite). It’s not unusual for some B&Bs, particularly bed and breakfast in Northern Ireland, to have a mix of regular rooms and en suite rooms. Most purpose-built B&Bs, especially those in Ireland, are going to be all private bathrooms.

Pancakes topped with bananas, sausage, eggs, and other breakfasts foods on a table
The breakfast spread may be on of the best things on your bed and breakfast Ireland tour!

Breakfast

No Irish bed and breakfast would be complete without the morning meal and most hosts will say something like “I pride myself in my Irish breakfast” or “We’ve won awards for our breakfasts.” And, to be fair, most of the breakfasts in Ireland have been pretty exceptional.

For breakfast, you should expect eggs cooked to order, two types of breakfast meat (usually sausage or ham), some kind of fruit, and toast or scones. Some hosts do the traditional black and white puddings, but they know North Americans can be unaccustomed to this, so they usually ask before preparing. You’ll also get tea or coffee (French press or drip; espresso-based coffees are unusual at B&Bs). Irish breakfasts tend to be social occasions and we’re always surprised how long breakfasts take–usually allow for about an hour to eat breakfast and socialize with your host and other guests.

Overall B&B Ambiance

In the past, Ireland B&Bs were generally the same – a spare room or two in the house, usually upstairs. Most are still of that variety. However, in recent years, there has been a trend towards purpose-built B&Bs in Ireland. These resemble small hotels and offer a more comfortable experience, larger rooms, thicker walls between the bedrooms, and other amenities.

But that can come at a cost – you don’t have the same proximity to your hosts. The hosts of the B&B are really the ones who make the experience. Otherwise, you’re just staying in a room. On our trips, we select a mix of newer, purpose-built B&Bs and quainter, family-run options.

On our tours of Ireland and Northern Ireland, we’ve encountered some fantastic B&B properties. Here are our favorites: the best bed and breakfasts in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The Best Bed and Breakfasts in Ireland

Dingle Recommendations

For many travelers, Dingle is the highlight of their trip to Ireland. This peninsula has stunning ocean views, endless green hills, and lots of charm. There’s no better way to maximize your time than staying at one of the local B&Bs in Dingle town. Here are our favorites:

  • Duinin House B&B: Located on Spa Road just a short 10-minute walk into town, Duinin House offers both country charm and convenience to town. Most rooms feature large windows with views of the hills. Duinin House also has one of the largest breakfast selections we’ve seen in all of Ireland. Coupled with private bathrooms, ample parking, and solid wifi, Duinin House is a winner. (Read reviews and book a room)
  • Ashe’s B&B: There is no better located B&B in town. Immediately adjacent to the heart of the town, you’re steps from the action, but feel like you’re in a country cottage. Private parking, wifi, and excellent breakfasts (featuring vegetarian options) make this a wise choice. (Read reviews and book a room)
Stone hut next to a stone wall
The Gallarus Oratory

Dublin Bed and Breakfast Recommendations

Most B&Bs in Dublin tend to be small inns or located on the outskirts of the city. Generally hotels will provide you with better locations, but at a higher price. However, there are a couple of good Dublin B&B options:

  • Portobello B&B: Located off the circular road near the canal on the south side of Dublin, the Portobello is close to Griffith College. Portobello offers free parking, private bathrooms, a delicious breakfast and very cozy rooms. It’s a 20-minute walk into the heart of the city, but it is very close to restaurants and shops, and there’s a bus stop in front of the B&B. (Read reviews and book a room)
  • Gardiner Lodge: While called a lodge, this is actually one of the best bed and breakfasts in Dublin. This property is located in central Dublin near everything. It offers the best location of any B&B in the city. The downside is that there’s no parking. However, you’ll find cozy rooms, private bathrooms, and a sophisticated elegance you don’t normally find in a B&B. Gardiner Lodge books up far in advance, so if this is your pick, be sure to book early. (Read reviews and book a room)
People walking down a street
People in Dublin’s Temple Bar

Galway Bed and Breakfast Recommendations

Galway is the informal capital of west Ireland. If you do any traveling in the country at all, you’ll likely make your way here. Galway is large enough to feel like a real city, but still small enough to feel like a village. Here are some great Galway B&B options:

  • Corrib House Guest Accommodation: Located right on the River Corrib as it makes its way through town and steps from the National University of Galway, Corrib House has a fantastic location. Visitors adore the lovely little courtyard, amazing breakfasts, private bathrooms, parking, and wifi. This is the best located B&B in Galway city. (Read reviews and book a room)
  • The Stop B and B: While many B&Bs go for rustic country chic decor, The Stop B and B in Galway has an artsy minimalism that is bright and refreshing. But there is more than interior design to this place. Located on the other side of the River Corrib in a residential neighborhood, it is a short 5-minute walk to the center of town. With private bathrooms, a delicious breakfast (vegetarian and vegan friendly), private parking, and friendly hosts, The Stop is one of the most popular B&B options in Galway. (Read reviews and book a room)
Castle on top off a massive cliff plunging into the ocean
The Cliffs of Moher

Kenmare Options

Abbey Court B&B in Kenmare
This purpose-built B&B makes a perfect base to explore the Ring of Kerry. This was one of our favorites on our first trip to Ireland several years ago. Over the years, Abbey Court garners consistently rave reviews from visitors. It is designed for people who are road tripping in Ireland–there’s lots of parking and it is easy to get to with a car. From here, you can leave the car and walk the 1km into the town to restaurants and nightlife.

Besides the castle-like architecture, two things really stood out about Abbey Court. First, it was incredibly quiet and tranquil. We felt like we were the only ones there…and we may have been. Second, its location outside of town is absolutely beautiful. This includes a garden, views of the Kenmare Bay, and the mountains in the distance. Abbey Court is a great base to explore County Kerry.

More options in Kenmare:

  • Hawthorn House B&B: When it comes to location, there’s no better bed & breakfast in the Ring of Kerry area. The rustic Hawthorn House oozes comfort and charm. (Read reviews and book a room)
  • The White House B&B: Located on the same road as Abbey Court, The White House has a lovely garden, and the host, Patricia, fixes a wonderful breakfast. There’s plenty of parking and it is a quick walk into town. (Read reviews and book a room)
The Irish coastline in southwest Ireland

Kilkenny Bed and Breakfast Recommendations

Alcantra B&B in Kilkenny
South of the Wicklow Mountains, Alcantra B&B in Kilkenny offers the best bed and breakfast in Ireland that we experienced. In fact, it is so delightful, we’ve stayed there on two different trips!

You’ll find them at the end of a cul-de-sac off the Kells Road, 1km from downtown Kilkenny. In the evening, this will make a delightful walk to dinner and then home from the pub. The hosts, Liam and Brigid, are a charming couple who have the service gene in their DNA. Everything about Alcantra is perfect — it is immaculately clean, the hosts are gracious, and they pay special attention to the little details. Our first time staying at Alcantra was during the winter and we returned from dinner to find warm water bottles in the bed to heat it.

Breakfast is served on fine china and from organic ingredients including eggs, Irish bacon and sausage, organic grain cereal, fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh fruit and the best scones we’ve ever had. This makes the perfect base to explore the Celtic ruins in the region – from the Rock of Cashel to Glendalough.

More options:

  • Rosquil House B&B: A nice purpose-built B&B located a 15-minute walk from the city center of Kilkenny. Consistently gets some of the best reviews of any B&B in Ireland. Private parking and exceptional breakfast. (Read reviews and book a room)
  • Castle Lodge B&B: There’s plenty of private off-street parking, which makes it perfect to park and forget it at Castle Lodge. Located close to Kilkenny and the city center, it’s close but also quiet. Castle Lodge is no frills, but it does offer really good value for the money. (Read reviews and book a room)
Ancient stone exterior of a chapel with large stone tower
Rock of Cashel

Kinsale Recommendations

Quaint Kinsale on Ireland’s southern coast makes a great overnight spot to break up trips from Dublin to the west coast. The compact city center is highly walkable, making it possible to leave your car at your accommodations as you head out to dinner and explore. Here are a couple good B&Bs in Kinsale:

  • Danabel B&B: Located a short three-minute walk from the center of Kinsale, this spot has a perfect location, private parking, private bathrooms, great wifi, and some rooms have ocean views. The Danabel B&B is more of a budget option. (Read reviews and book a room)
  • Rocklands House Bed and Breakfast: While not located in downtown Kinsale, it is less than a mile walk on a hiking trail to get there. Rocklands House is also one of the highest rated B&Bs in Ireland. There’s wifi, private parking, most rooms have ocean views, and some rooms even have a mini-kitchen. Most visitors love the outdoor patio space that looks out on the bay. (Read reviews and book a room)
Cliffs jutting out into the bright blue ocean
Sea cliffs at Mizen Head

Sligo Options

On our trips, Sligo has always been one of the most difficult cities for us in terms of accommodations. The reality is that aren’t many B&Bs in Sligo town itself and most of the options are further outside the city, which necessitates driving in for dinner and back out again. When we’ve stayed here, we’ve opted for hotels or staying at a nearby castle (see related article on castle hotels in Ireland). However, there are a couple of good options:

  • The Castledale: While not located in Sligo town, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include The Castledale. This is one of the finest B&Bs in the world: beautifully designed and flawlessly executed. You will not want for anything here–beautiful views, gracious hosts, and incredible breakfasts. This would be one of your great B&B splurges in Ireland. (Read reviews and book a room)
  • Tree Tops: Closer into town (although still not walking distance) is the Tree Tops B&B. There’s a wonderful host, private garden, private parking, and wifi. (Read reviews and book a room)
Church sanctuary with a large mosaic behind the altar
Visit Yeats Country at St. Columba’s Church

Westport Favorites

Tiny Westport is often overlooked in favor of Galway to the south and Sligo to the north, but there’s a lot for visitors to do here. Westport makes a great base to explore Connemara National Park, Clare Island, and Ballycroy National Park. On the whole, B&Bs in Westport also tend to be better than elsewhere in Ireland – there’s a real local pride here and the hosts compete with each other. Here are a couple of great options:

  • Hillcrest B&B: This place has a perfect location just up the hill from the downtown. There’s private parking, private bathrooms, excellent wifi, a very friendly owner, and some of the best coffee in Ireland. (Read reviews and book a room)
  • Drummin House: Drummin offers a good value in a great location. Around the corner from Hillcrest B&B and just above downtown, it has private bathrooms, small in-room TVs, and wifi. Street parking is usually available out in front. (Read reviews and book a room)
  • Hazelbrook Bed & Breakfast: We stayed here several years ago in what was a rather last-minute decision. It is a 10-minute walk down into town, which means you’re going uphill after a night at the pub. But it is a very quiet location, off-street parking, private bathrooms and good breakfast. It’s also really good value for the money. (Read reviews and book a room)
Ancient stone tower and wall with arches cut out
Baltinglass Abbey in County Wicklow

Wicklow Recommendations

Just south of Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains have been a favorite stop for us on each of our trips to Ireland.  Given its proximity to the capital, many visitors to Wicklow opt to visit on a day trip from Dublin.  Each time we’ve visited the Wicklow Mountains, we’ve done so on a stop over between Dublin and Kilkenny.  However, visitors wanting to spend more time in the area might consider these fine options:

  • Wicklow Way Lodge:  Despite the lodge name, this is a B&B that gets top marks for its breakfasts, beautiful grounds, and stunning views of the Wicklow Mountains. (Read reviews and book a room)
  • Tudor Lodge B&B:  With a location that can’t be beat, this Glendalough B&B is located right in the village at the beginning of the Wicklow Way hiking trail.  Rooms are cozy and charming.  Restaurants and stores are within walking distance. (Read reviews and book a room)
Ancient stone building at the base of a mountain close to a stream
Ireland is called the Emerald Isle for good reason

The Best Bed and Breakfasts in Northern Ireland

Belfast Bed and Breakfast Recommendations

In major cities, hotels can often be easier and more centrally located. Most of the Belfast B&B options are located south of the city center near Queen’s University Belfast. This means most B&Bs are close to shops, restaurants, and pubs. Two good B&Bs in Belfast are:

  • Harpers Boutique Bed and Breakfast: Located just over 1 mile from the city center and close to the university, Harpers has a modern design, spacious rooms, private bathrooms, and wifi. Parking is on street, but usually not much of a problem. This is one of the most popular Belfast B&Bs and frequently books up. (Read reviews and book a room)
  • Avenue Guesthouse: Close to the university and several museums, Avenue is one of the best values in Belfast. Avenue has private bathrooms, cozy rooms, as well as a book and movie lending library. Parking is on street. (Read reviews and book a room)
People eating at picnic tables in a food market
St. George’s Market in Belfast

Derry/Londonderry Recommendations

Derry/Londonderry is a historic nautical city that straddles the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland. This was also a flashpoint for “The Troubles” and the site of Bloody Sunday. These days, visitors flock to walk on the Peace Bridge and to see Derry’s famous Troubles Murals.

Derry/Londonderry B&B options:

  • Amore Bed & Breakfast: When it comes to location, no B&B is better located in Derry. There’s parking, great wifi, and full English breakfast. (Read reviews and book a room)
  • Serendipity House: This B&B has a good location near the cathedral and is very close to shopping and restaurants. There’s wifi, private parking and private bathrooms. (Read reviews and book a room)
Panoramic view of buildings in a town including a large church steeple
Derry and several of its moving murals

Portrush Favorites

Shola Coach House
On the Antrim Coast, Shola Coach House feels like a country house – wildflowers in the garden, views of the sea over the hills, and birds chirping in the trees. Located in the country a few kilometers outside of Portrush, Northern Ireland, on the Giant’s Causeway Coast (too far to walk into town for dinner, but a quick drive), this is the perfect base to explore the Antrim Coast.

The bedrooms are on the second floor of this converted coach house/barn and up a spiral staircase. Every detail of the B&B is designed for total relaxation – a massive wood table to play games, over-sized couches to relax and read a book. Their breakfast includes the traditional Ulster fry, along with a delightful homemade yogurt and fresh fruit. In retrospect, we wish we’d stayed more than one night.

Other options in Portrush:

  • Pier39Portrush: This modern B&B is a 5 minute walk to the beach. Many rooms offer ocean views, and there are private bathrooms, wifi, and a garden for some privacy. (Read reviews and book a room)
  • Harbour Heights B&B: Boasting ocean views in one of the oldest sections of the town, the Harbour Heights has a cozy charm, wifi, plenty of street parking, and private bathrooms. It’s also a short walk to the beach and our favorite restaurant in town (Ramore Harbour Bistro and Wine Bar). (Read reviews and book a room)
Flowers in bloom
The Gardens at Shola Coach House

A Final Note About Accommodations in Ireland

In general, you’re going to want to see as much of the country as possible. That means moving around every night or two. We do not recommend using vacation or apartment rental services in Ireland (outside of the major cities) because those types of accommodations usually require 2-3 night minimums to be cost effective.

Also, if you’re really exploring the Irish countryside, you’ll find yourself doing a lot of backtracking to get back to your vacation rental. Unless you really want to spend most of your time in a specific area, Irish bed & breakfasts really are the option to see the country.

The last thing to keep in mind is that the bed and breakfasts in Ireland tend to book up quickly. And the best B&Bs tend to book up the fastest. Keep that in mind and book your accommodations as soon as your travel plans are solidified.

Book your B&B in Ireland today

We were the guests of Alcantra in Kilkenny on our second visit there, but all opinions are our own.

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Stephanie

Monday 6th of January 2020

Any recommendations for Co. Wicklow area? We were looking to stay our first nigh around Wicklow Mountains National Park.

Lance Longwell

Friday 10th of January 2020

Yes, two recommendations. We've added them to the post above under the Wicklow section. Wicklow is only 41 miles from the Dublin airport and we've found it makes a nice lunch/stopover on the way to Kilkenny, which is where a lot of people usually stay the first night in Ireland. But if you don't want to go that far, there are two good options close to Glendalough.

Becky

Friday 6th of September 2019

Do you have any information about Ireland's islands? We will be traveling in May 2020 and this is our first trip. Are there any must-sees?

Lance Longwell

Saturday 7th of September 2019

Good news Becky, Ireland is an island! :) Just kidding. Unfortunately, we haven't visited any of the islands. On our first trip, the weather was so bad that Skellig Michael wasn't possible (of course, you can't stay there). We're huge Saw Doctors fans and have always wanted to visit Clare Island and stay at the Granuaile House, but we've only been up that way in the off-season. May might be a little early/cool for some of the islands, but you'll probably have your best luck in the Aran Islands that time of the year. Good luck and let us know how you make out!

Susan Johnson

Friday 9th of September 2016

Susan Sept.10, 2016 Lance, my question is about admission charges. The Irish guidebook mentions buying a Heritage Card. In your estimation would we use them enough to honestly save money when touristing around?

Lance Longwell

Saturday 10th of September 2016

It really depends on how many sites you visit. Cost for the pass is currently €25. Remember that visiting Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin is €7. So, if you visit Kilmainham and 4 other sites, you are money ahead. The Heritage Card came with a small book and a handy map, which told us about other sites that weren't on our list. If you are going to spend at least a week in Ireland, then it's probably worth it. If it is helpful, we used the card on one of our visits and wrote visiting some of these heritage sites: https://traveladdicts.net/ireland-celtic-ruins/

Thelma

Thursday 12th of May 2016

Interesting I and my hubby are preparing for a trip to Ireland by September, and I have been searching online on where to stay but thanks for this post

Veronica Egan Donato

Saturday 27th of February 2016

I am handicapped and require the use of a wheelchair .My sister and I will be traveling To Ireland in mid ~September through Counties Clare , limerick and Galway . ARE THERE ANY B&B s which are handicapped accessible , with bed and bath on main floor ? Bungalows ? I cannot manage stairs . Any suggested sites or recommendations would be most helpful . Thank you !

Laura Longwell

Saturday 27th of February 2016

B&B selection might be limited, but Booking.com, BedAndBreakfast.com, and BAndBIreland.com all have filters that allow you to search for properties with disabled facilities. Good luck in your search.

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