The major international hotel chains are well represented in Ireland and will provide a predictably high standard of accommodation. There are also many independent, often owner run, hotels in buildings which are frequently of historic interest.
Main image: Merriman Inn, Kinvara by Cle0patra
Oversupply & Bargains
During the first seven or eight years of this century there was an explosion in the number of hotel rooms available in Ireland, with property developers rushing to take advantage of generous government incentives to build hotels.
Now recession has hit and there is a significant oversupply on the market in just about every region of the country and every class of hotel.
This means that the potential customer really is in the driving seat. There are bargains, hotels are very keen to fill rooms and are offering pretty tempting deals on a regular basis.
Unless you are visiting a place while there is a major festival or other event putting pressure on rooms, shop around and look for discounts.
Where to Find Hotel Bargains
Of course there are the usual hotel search sites, but you can do much better than that. The suggestions below are places where you might have been less likely to look and where real bargains are regularly available.
Discount & Coupon Sites
These sites offer discounts of up to 65% on accommodation, often with dinner or another perk thrown in. The best sites to watch are Groupon Ireland, GrabOne and Boards Deals. Less good for accommodation but worth a look are Living Social and DealRush.
Some tips for getting these deals:
- Start watching for deals about 4-6 months before you travel
- Check the expiry dates of vouchers and the period during which the deal is valid
- Before you buy check with the hotel that there are dates available while you are in Ireland
- Once you have your voucher, book immediately
- Be flexible – if you get a couple of really good deals, build your itinerary to take advantage of them.
Most of these require you to have a storecard – if you are traveling from the UK you may find deals from Tesco.
However Lidl Breaks, run by the German discount supermarket group, has hands down the best site for finding bargains. Because it has so many hotels in so many locations it is especially good for filling the gaps left once you’ve grabbed your daily deal bargains.
Some of the hotels on the site are very ordinary to say the least or are poorly located for sightseeing. However there are enough good places at very, very low prices to make it worth taking a look.
Tips for getting the best deals on Lidl Breaks:
- Search for B&B plus Dinner packages to get the best deals
- Stay 2 nights if possible
- Check the locations of hotels before booking
- Book at least a month in advance – there is no financial incentive to wait and you’ll have more choice.
Deals/hotels on the Lidl site that are particularly worth considering include:
- Bewley’s Airport Hotel *** Dublin Airport (Website | Tripadvisor)
Great value in a good location close to the airport. Kids sharing a room stay free and family rooms cost the same as doubles.
- Park Hotel Dungarvan *** Co Waterford (Website| Tripadvisor)
Nice hotel with a leisure centre/pool. This part of Waterford is not very touristy, which is a pity because it as a lot to offer.
- Armada Hotel **** Co Clare (Website | Tripadvisor)
Centrally located for touring the Burren and Loop Head. Good hotel in a lovely shore side location. Almost always has weddings at weekends so can be noisy.
- Westwood Hotel **** Galway City (Website | Tripadvisor)
Located just outside the city centre on the road to Connemara, this is a solid and dependable hotel with good service and nice restaurants.
- Carlton Hotel, Tralee **** Co Kerry (Website | Tripadvisor)
Fantastic hotel for kids, next door to the Aquadome with free entry for hotel residents.
Hotel Grading & Prices
Hotels are graded on a star system, from 5 to 1 stars. All price guides are per person per night, including breakfast. These are average rack rates – you’ll almost always be able to improve on those.
5 star Hotels
There are relatively few five star hotels in Ireland, though numbers are increasing. All are top of the range establishments which easily meet or exceed the best international standards in decor, service and facilities.
Cost: From €250 up to €500 or more.
4 star Hotels
Slightly less opulent but will be of an extremely high standard and most have good, sometimes excellent, leisure facilities, such as swimming pools, spas, outdoor pursuits etc.
Cost: From €120 up to €200 or more.
3 star Hotels
Range from truly excellent places with great character to anonymous chain hotels and range form good value to, frankly, grim. Tread carefully, but there are gems in here.
Cost: From €70 to €180.
2 star hotels
Will be cheap but very basic. At this level you would probably be better seeking out a budget 3 star, a good guest house or a Bed and Breakfast instead.
Cost: From €60 to €120.
1 star: Don’t even think about it!