Durhamstown Castle in Meath is a fully fledged Norman castle just a half-hour away from Dublin. The castle dates back to 1420 and is beautifully decorated, showing reverence for the incredible architecture alongside the owners’ design flair, with bold colours and exotic finds peppered throughout. There are plenty of opportunities for country walks in the area, with both the seaside and romantic woodlands nearby. The castle comes in at over €1,000 per night, but it has eight bedrooms and can sleep up to 16, working out at an affordable price per person at full capacity. To fully immerse yourself in the regal experience, you can also book to have some or all meals catered at the castle.
Cost per night: from €1,226
The two-bedroom Yellow Cottage in County Clare’s coastal village of Doolin is an exemplar of the traditional Irish cottage. The owners have succeeded in the delicate balance of presenting the best of the property’s historic charm without venturing into ‘twee’ territory. The natural materials and simple colour palette let the cottage’s history and unspoilt location speak for themselves. Enjoy evenings cosying up to the wood-burning stove in the open hearth and eat breakfast at the picnic table outside, with a view that stretches across the rolling fields to the sea. This locale is also an ideal spot for exploring this beautiful stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way, with the majestic Aran Islands, the craggy limestone planes of the Burren, and the everyday rhythm of life of local towns Doolin and Lisdoonvarna.
Cost per night: from €88
Set in its own private woodland, the Cuckoo Wood Hexagon, clad in wood, has a grown-up treehouse feel. The cabin juxtaposes natural materials against its bold geometric form and bright green trim, and the design inside is similarly attuned to the context while still modern and progressive in style. The vaulted ceiling and non-standard angles are complemented by a simple and tasteful white décor scheme, while generous windows frame vignettes of the woods outside and allow light to pour into the space. A few steps outside offers an immersion in the sound of birdsong on the raised deck area, and the private woodland has some lovely walks, with the river Owenwee running by just 200 metres (656 feet) away. The property is only five kilometres (3.1 miles) from the designated heritage town of Westport, and there is a range of active excursions available nearby, from cycling along the Great Western Greenway to horse-riding along the edge of the Atlantic.
Cost per night: from €83
This two-bed apartment offers visitors the dream location in the heart of Georgian Dublin, minutes from the city’s best shopping and restaurants but still quiet enough for some respite from city life. Tastefully renovated in 2016, the space is decorated with nods to different vintage periods and styles that somehow blend effortlessly together. The moody navy and wine palette in the living room is offset by light streaming in from dual aspect windows, with cushions, plant-pots and a tomato-red retro record player adding pops of colour. The kitchen and bedrooms have a more muted style but are immaculate and well-configured. The apartment comfortably sleeps four in the large king room and compact twin, with the option to squeeze one extra in on the sofa bed.
Cost per night: from €278
Dingle’s Waters Edge House is decorated sumptuously, with rich parquet floors, a cosy fireplace in the living room and sleigh beds in the bedrooms. However, the real star of the show is the view spanning over the bay outside, framed by generous windows throughout. This three-bedroom, three-bathroom property sleeps six in comfort, giving plenty of space for a family or group to spread out, and it also comes with a utility space for washing and drying clothes that will come in especially useful for those who take advantage of the opportunities to hike, kayak and cycle nearby. Despite the incredibly peaceful location, the property is only a five-minute walk from the lively town centre, which is brimming with craic, ceol (music) and some of the best food in the country. The path is flood-lit at night if you’re heading home after dark.
Cost per night: from €259
If you have regal tastes but a modest budget (and a small party to accommodate), you can find your own personal castle without the excess in County Cork. Anne’s Grove is chock-full of period atmosphere, saturated in Gothic style and nestled among mature birch trees, all on a miniature scale. Period details from leaded windows, stone arches, timber ceilings and a regal red and gold palette of textiles set a romantic and luxurious tone throughout. This castle is perfect for two, with just one bedroom and a quaint little garden for wine under the stars.
Cost per night: €129
Locations don’t get much better than this; right in the city centre just a hop, skip and a jump from the waterside public space of the Spanish Arch, this two-bedroom apartment is the ideal base from which to explore the best that Galway has to offer. Sample local eateries such as the incomparable McDonagh’s fish and chips and tongue-in-cheek pizza sensations The Dough Bros, and check out live bands at local musical haunt the Róisín Dubh, before snuggling back into the calm and beautifully designed apartment. A calming Lola Donoghue print sets the tone for the décor, with a palette of muted greys and natural texture, pops of soft pink and geometric touches throughout the interior. Balancing all the fun that Galway has to offer, this is a hygge hug of a flat to come back to and recharge.
Cost per night: from €109
Those with a real desire to get away from it all might find just what they’re looking for in the national heritage area of Lough Derravaragh in County Westmeath. Built by hand in 2005, this cabin is a pared-back cocoon of relaxation with no electricity, an outdoor bathroom and heat provided by a small wood-burning stove. A dreamy wood-clad space with a simple daybed for reading and relaxing (that opens out into two single beds), bunk-beds and a small kitchenette, it also has a large outdoor area with handmade benches and stools and an outdoor cooking space with a barbeque/firepit to enjoy eating and drinking al fresco. There are many ways to explore the rugged scenery of the area, including hiking nearby Knockeyon hill to get even better views, taking a gentle walk through Mullaghmeen Forest or hiring the wooden rowboats available to get out on the lake.
Cost per night: from €89
The Turret at Clonbrock Castle is the picture of antiquated charm, filled to the gills with period details of its own while also giving guests access to the medieval castle plus its 10 acres of gardens and private woodland. The rounded structure was lovingly restored from a roofless derelict state using predominantly traditional materials and methods in 2014–15. The renovated one-bedroom property is modernised enough to be comfortable while still complementing the architectural idiosyncrasies of this unique property. A winding outdoor stairway wraps around the circular wall, leading to a private terrace area. This turret is one of three separate Airbnb properties on the estate (see also the West and the East Cottages that also each sleep two), making it an excellent option for groups who might want to be together but also keep a bit of private space during their holiday.
Cost per night: from €124
The ‘world’s first self-catering bar’ in Aglish, County Tipperary has garnered a lot of attention for both its novelty value and its sympathetic adaptation to a functional living space. The mahogany bar is now a fully functioning kitchen, and the former bar area is still furnished with bar stools and even a dart board, while an adjoining snug with an open log/turf fire is a perfect spot to cosy up after a day of exploring nearby Lough Derg and the River Shannon. Two modestly sized but comfortable bedrooms open off the space. Despite its alcohol-focused history, this characterful property is a fun choice for families, and there is a small playground nearby in the village. Kids will also love the Fairy Garden next door, where they can become a fairy helper for the day in an immersive play and craft experience. Note that there is no shop in the village, but there is – of course – a pub.
Cost per night: from €100