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Lodging with a cultural focus

A hotel room is only just that for us—a state of familiarity for a tourist in any place in the world with the Internet. Where can “travelers” find meaning in lodging that offers culture, learning, new perspectives, storytelling, authenticity, exploring, and possibly a change of awareness?

In our 60s we backpacked for a year around the world, but now we want to embed ourselves in deeper dives rather than reporting back that we kissed the Blarney Stone and then stopping at every must-see castle on a tour. We like free-wheeling and using public transit and “being” in a new space. So no scary right hand drives on skinny roads.

This is not to dismiss those who desire to tour, but at our older age we want to immerse ourselves in the place we happen to be. Perhaps a pub with regulars who live life differently and will tell us what need to see. If an alien landed in Montana, we would invite them to absorb a new grasp of life here but also open our minds.

VRBO and Airbnb work for a general search for availability, pricing, and location, but we want to explore guesthouses, b&bs, homestays, or other lodging? Thx for reading and appreciation for comments.

Posted by
15967 posts

Hi Sheila - YAY! You found the better forum for your question!
I'm not sure why a vrbo or airbnb rental would prevent you "from being as local as can be possible" so you might want to expand on that a bit more? Regardless of your accommodation, local folks usually have their own social circles plus the daily chores we all have to manage when not traveling so I wouldn't count on them having large blocks of time to share?

As well, you'll want to mention HOW you plan to get around? Looking back at some of your previous posts, you were 75 when visiting Rome in 2018 so would be roundabout 80 if you take the trip this year. How long you intend to stay and how comfortable you are driving on the opposite side of the road/very narrow lanes night be factors in whether you choose a more urban location with a certain amount of public transit or a more isolated rural location. Anyway, you might want to specify one over the other.

You might also look at an Untour? We haven't taken one but they've been around for over 40 years and I've read good things about them. Sounds like one might be a good fit for you although you would be staying in a private apartment.

As well, they support some good causes!

Posted by
7058 posts

I also don't uderstand why you say VRBO and Airbnb 'aren't' you, they are ideal places to find places to stay that are usually in a local's home or apartment offered for rent but also sometimes they are the owners home with a room/bath for rent or maybe a complete apartment. How much closer to the locals can you get? Those hosts are also great sources of where to go and what to do with the locals or with a local flavor.

If you don't like that idea, you can start with this website - it's a directory of b&b's in Ireland, arranged by county so you can look in the particular area you are interested in.

I also found this website that might be of interest to you in finding more unique/cultural lodgings in Ireland.

Posted by
30 posts

You are both correct in stating that vrbos and airbnbs can be local and more personal. (I need to edit that.)
Nevertheless our recent experience with the two rental sites have given us nightmares (in the US), so we're avoiding these behemoth corporations.

We will spend a week near Cork at a writing retreat, and before and after plan to use public transportation to find two or three places to hang out and get as local as possible. We'll stay in the south because we have been lucky to spend some time along the West Coast.

Thanks for directing me and asking for clarification.


Posted by
1950 posts

Avoid the Tourist trap places and look for smaller towens (and villages) that don't feature on teh tourist itineraries - places like BAntry, Glengarriff or Castletown Bearhaven rather than the more popular Kenmare and Killarney.

Think Killorglin or Tralee rather than Dingle.

Ask you B&B host for ideas of places to visit and pubs the locals use (and when is the best time to hear music)

I've found the DK Eyewitness Ireland a good source of information as it covers many hidden gems that don't appear in the usual tourist guides.

Posted by
15967 posts

So it does sound as if you won't be renting a car and will be using local transport, eh? That's kind of an important detail so you might want to highlight that, OK?

Posted by
23 posts

I'm in my 60's, and want to be you when I grow up hehe.

I think I understand what you're saying about AirBnB etc. - it's morphed into being a corporation, pretty different from the original undertaking of people sharing their homes and you can't count on it being the same kind of interpersonal experience that I think it started out to be. It does seem there are places on Air BnB which could offer the same kind of experience you're describing. For example

Another idea might be to check out some of the Gaelic language / culture schools, they may be able to connect you to a homestay. This is one we were interested in:

I haven't even been to Ireland yet, so take anything I say with (a handful of) salt :)

Posted by
509 posts

I have two great lodging experiences that reflect on Ireland's culture.

You mentioned backpacking around the world. In 2010, I walked the 100-mile-long Dingle Way ( in Ireland's west. I loved every place I stayed on my seven-day hike. I had fascinating conversations with each of my hosts. I still remember the landlady who had a black and white photo on her mantle. I asked about it. Turned out, it was her mother who was an nurse in London during the Blitz. Something like half the nurses in London around mid-century were Irish girls. And my dad served in the US Navy during World War II. The landlady and I were the descendants of war vets -- one from rural west of Ireland, the other from Chicago -- amid the mists, green and ocean blues of the Dingle Peninsula. I felt like I had an authentic cultural experience at each B&B. Here's a great group on arranging walks in Ireland:

In 1997, I stayed on Lansdowne Road in Dublin. It fronts Croke Park. My 75-year-old landlady was one of the nicest people I have met in Ireland. Most of the landladies on Landsdowne are old people with a wealth of memories. It's worth going to see a gaelic football game at Croke Park or nearby Aviva Stadium.