2021 Guide to Self-Catering Holidays in Ireland

If you were ‘staycationing’ in 2020, then you were also self-catering – one went hand-in-hand with the other, after all. As we arrive at a new year, however, we are shrewdly guessing that self-catering holidays won’t be going away any time soon, and so we have compiled a list of some of the most distinctive in Ireland. From lighthouse to underground, from castles to private islands – read about them, think about them, do the sums, and then book!


DOLPHIN BEACH HOUSE, CO GALWAY 

When it comes to location, it’s difficult to beat Connemara, and when it comes to Connemara it’s a challenge to beat Clifden. Located outside the small town on the iconic vista that is the Sky Road, Dolphin Beach House has the Atlantic Ocean right at its feet. A contemporary coastal stay, all of the six design-conscious, en-suite bedrooms (four doubles, two twins) are spick and span and come with enviable panoramic views. Available all year round, minimum stay three nights.

More Self-Catering Info: https://www.dolphinbeach.ie/ 


ELFIN COTTAGE, DOOLIN, CO CLARE

Oh, this is a charmer. A farmer’s cottage that has been painstakingly restored by a handful of craftsmen, Elfin Cottage tips its proverbial hat to anyone dedicated to showing respect for the natural environment. Refurbished using organic and sustainable materials allied with a design aesthetic that engenders true peace of mind, the cottage sits on the threshold of Lonely Planet’s highly regarded Burren, in northwest Co Clare.

More Self-Catering Info: www.doolinvillagelodges.com 


MAISON, BUSHMILLS, CO ANTRIM

Situated on one of the world’s most compelling coastal drives – the Causeway Coastal Route – Bushmills is home to Maison. In turn, Maison is home to you, the lucky guest. A recently renovated townhouse in Bushmills village, the French-inspired self-catering home has two en-suite bedrooms (each with a king-size bed), open plan living and dining spaces, open fire, and very smart kitchen with granite worktops. If you want to treat yourselves, by the way, the village has three quality restaurants, not least the French Rooms, which is Maison’s sister property.

More Self-Catering Info: http://thefrenchrooms.com/maison-accommodation/ 


THE BEACH HOUSE, CO WEXFORD

Perfect for a family get together, the Beach House is ideally located for that mixture of getting away from it all (the closest pub, the Golden Anchor, will take you all of five minutes to reach) and being close enough to the action (the towns of Arklow and Gorey are about 25 minutes away by car). Overlooking the sandy smoothness of Clone Strand, this property has substantial open-plan kitchen and living spaces (as we said, it’s ideal for families) but for those warm days and mild evenings get-togethers it’s nigh-on impossible to beat the house’s most commanding feature: a virtually wraparound sundeck area that leads down to the beach.

More Self-Catering Info: https://uniqueirishhomes.ie/the-beach-house/ 


EYE OF THE MOUNTAIN, CO DONEGAL

And now, as the good people in Monty Python’s Flying Circus would say, for something completely different. Previously known as the Cro Pod, the newly titled Eye of the Mountain (we detect a distinct Lord of the Rings hint here) is a beautifully designed underground property that is scattered with light and lined with oak. Yes, it’s quirky, and it’s just for two people, but if you’re looking for a self-catering break that you can dine out on for some time then this one’s for you and your friend.

More Self-Catering Info: https://www.underthethatch.co.uk/cropod 


WICKLOW HEAD LIGHTHOUSE

How’s this for a pitch: an 18th-century octagonal tower once used purposefully as a lighthouse has been transformed by the Irish Landmark Trust into a singular self-catering experience. In other words, if you’re on the lookout for an extraordinary break, this one ticks the boxes. Of course, in Ireland you’re never really certain what the weather will be like, so be prepared: being surrounded on three sides by water and cliffs affords dramatic views along the Wicklow coast, but if the sea is rough expect waves. Also, be advised that the kitchen is on the top floor (over 100 steps from the entrance point) so don’t forget the milk and bread!

More Self-Catering Info: https://www.irishlandmark.com/property/wicklow-head-lighthouse/ 


BALLYPORTRY GAELIC TOWER, CO CLARE

Comfortably sleeping between four and eight guests across six bedrooms, this 15th-century tower, located by the Burren, is furnished and decorated – as authentically as possible – in line with the time period of its construction (and before you ask, yes, there are the usual contemporary facilities you would expect and want in 2021). This is quite a unique experience, a real step-back-in-time holiday that gives you a sense of what it was like, except with less muck on your boots and warmer rooms. A word or two of advice: the structure’s late-medieval sharply curving stone staircase may not be suitable for the very young or infirm.

More Self-Catering Info: www.ballyportry.ie 


WALDEN LAKEHOUSE, CO WESTMEATH

This! This is something else. This is luxury self-catering that rhymes with contemporary design aesthetics while making sure that if it’s home-from-home comforts you’re after then they are also provided. A previous winner of Ireland’s Home of the Year, this gorgeous hideaway, enveloped by verdant woodland, is nestled on Lough Ree’s lapping shores, and is ideal for up to four people. Booking includes a really lovely ‘homestay’ welcome hamper, and there’s a Sonos multi-room sound system, too. One word? Sorted.

More Self-Catering Info: https://www.uniquehomestays.com/self-catering/ireland/county-westmeath/glasson/walden-lakehouse/ 


THE LOST COTTAGE, CO KERRY

“On a cloudless night, we’ve seen stunning views of the Milky Way.” What more recommendation do you need for the aptly named Lost Cottage? Built in the early 1800s, abandoned in 1960, and then fully, handsomely restored in 2003, it is located close to the village of Glenbeigh, in the heart and soul of Co Kerry. On your doorstep, there are serene lakes, commanding mountains and swathes of coastlines. It’s a compact space, so no more than four people can be comfortably accommodated, but believe us, you won’t want to share such beauty with too many people!

More Self-Catering Info: https://www.uniquehomestays.com/self-catering/ireland/county-kerry/glenbeigh/lost-cottage/


THE BOAT HOUSE, CO CORK 

Situated on Ballynatray Estate, Youghal, this is the epitome of a romantic self-catering holiday. You are, quite literally, on the waterfront here, as the Boat House is poised and perched above the calm flow of the Blackwater. This is a two-person experience – a lovely intimate space hosts a double bed, an ultra-private roll top bath with views of the river and countryside, and a kitchenette with fridge, microwave and sink. 

More Self-Catering Info: https://www.ballynatray.com/boat-house-rental


ACORN COTTAGE, CO KERRY

There’s private, there’s very private, and then there’s Acorn Cottage. This is a luxury three-bedroom sanctuary, one of two houses on Madam’s Island, a small secluded island on Caragh Lake, which is situated within a designated Special Area of Conservation that includes the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and Killarney National Park. The house sleeps up to seven people, has a stone-clad patio with an outdoor fireplace and BBQ. The kitchen, meanwhile, is fully equipped, as you might expect. If you want friends to join you, a further seven guests can be neighbours at the island’s sister property, Salmon Cottage. 

More Self-Catering Info: https://fivestar.ie/self-catering/acorn-cottage-2/

WRITTEN BY TONY CLAYTON-LEA

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