Guest houses are smaller than hotels and generally do not have a bar or provide some hotel standard services, such as room-service. They range from the modern and purpose built, often with a standard that rivals mid-ranking hotels, to the down at heel and mediocre.
The best Irish guest houses rival hotels in quality while providing a personal touch that no hotel can match. While some are modern purpose built, others in older houses which have been well renovated to provide all modern facilities.
A worthwhile sub-group to seek out are those which are in converted historic houses, either smaller country houses or large townhouses. These tend to be owner run, very individual, full of character and are often very interesting places to stay.
Guest House or B&B?
It can often be difficult to distinguish which is which, and in truth the lines are a little blurred. Generally speaking a B&B is in a home, with a family living in the same house, while a guest house is a stand alone entity. Having said that many guest houses are family owned and run, though the family don’t live on the premises.
A good B&B may be superior to any guest house, it isn’t a matter of standards when choosing between the two, there are good and bad in both.
Accommodation & Facilities
All Irish guest houses will have rooms with private bathroom, most have direct dial telephone and tea/coffee making facilities in bedrooms.
Some have restaurants, occasionally excellent ones, but many provide no meals other than breakfast. Guest houses do not as a rule have a bar, though some may have a wine license.
A few specialise in activities such as fishing or horse-riding and aim to attract guests who wish to pursue those interests. Most however will have little in the way of leisure activities, though those in the country are often situated on farms or near woodlands, rivers or lakes and are good bases for walking or cycling visitors.
4 Star guest houses
These often resemble boutique hotels, with very well appointed and equipped rooms, excellent bathrooms and a high standard of service. There will certainly be a restaurant, often a very good one. Many are in historic houses.
3 Star guest houses
You can expect a high standard here too, with good rooms, spacious bathrooms and a place for guests to relax. Most have restaurants and offer additional facilities such as baby-sitting and laundry services.
2 Star guest houses
2 star guesthouses are of a good standard, with clean, spacious and well furnished rooms, good breakfasts, a sitting area for guests and good service. They are unlikely to be ‘special’ however or tp provide any additional facilities. They don’t generally have a restaurant for evening meals.
1 star guesthouses meet all mandatory requirements and will be cheap – but may very well be nasty too. Find a good Bed & Beakfast instead!
What You Will Pay
At the top end guesthouses cost the same as a good hotel but most fall into the range of €50 – €90 per person per night, including breakfast.