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Too Risky To Find Lodging as We Go?

Hello -- My husband, teenage son, and I are planning a two-week vacation in Ireland in early June. This will be our first visit to the island. We plan to rent a car and spend most of the trip outdoors walking and biking. We haven't set an itinerary yet, but we're interested in biking the Waterford Greenway and hiking many places along the northwestern coast. Our preferred mode of travel is to go where the mood takes us, booking rooms for the night on the same day or one day ahead. Will we be able to find decent, reasonable accommodations on the same day or one day in advance, or is that just not possible, given that early June begins high tourist season in Ireland?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Posted by
2621 posts

It shouldn’t be much of a problem, but you may not get your first hotel choice, especially in areas where there are a lot of tourists. If you do decide to wing it, consider stopping earlier in the day since hotels will fill up the later it gets. We winged it back in October 2010 and, other than Galway, we had no issue finding a place to stay. In Galway we pulled into town about 6pm and lodging was slim pickings. Another option, would be to reserve a day ahead of time, once you have an idea where and when you’ll be someplace.

Posted by
300 posts

If you plan to use Ireland's numerous and wonderful B&Bs, then you can just show up, knock on a few doors and find a room in a few minutes. Every B&B has an Irish Tourist Board (ITB) sign of approval out front.

In nine bicycle trips around Ireland, we had a problem getting a room only once. It was on a weekend in Westport, a popular commercial town, and it took some dozen phone calls to secure a room for the night. It's wise, however, to book your first and last nights if you know where you'll be staying.

Posted by
983 posts

I've never tried this method in Ireland. I have tried the find a room as we go in the US. I've only ever had one issue, and that was when a major convention was in an area where every blessed room for nearly a hundred miles was taken for this event. We had to keep going aways, but we eventually found an available room.

My only suggestion is to be flexible and be prepared to travel a little further to find a room for the night. Be prepared to pay a little extra if necessary. Then again, this is probably my advice for any last minute booking anywhere, but if you're biking then I'd definitely have a little spare padding in the spending account if you're not able to keep traveling on to a less expensive location.

Posted by
2562 posts

I note you have a party of three. Are you going to want two rooms, or in a pinch would you be OK with your son sleeping on an extra bed in the same room? Are you averse to putting your son in a different B&B down the road if only one room is available somewhere? The more flexible you are about these kinds of compromises, the better your chances of finding lodging that you're OK with.

Posted by
3049 posts

As with previous comments, this also reflects an experience from a few years ago. Hopefully it’s still relevant now. In mid-June 2011, we biked down the western-southwestern coast, from Galway to Dingle and beyond. For our first night, where our rental bikes were being delivered, we booked our B&B before leaving home. Same for a stay in Inishmor (a place that’s sadly no longer a B&B, and a cooking school/lodge in Miltown Malbay. Everything else, we mostly booked at a TI (tourist information office) one or two towns away, before we got to our stopping point for the night. One day, drenched from riding in downpouring rain, we pulled into a cafe to dry out, and gota recommendation for a B&B just down the street. They had room!

So 9 years later, with more access with smartphones and Internet listings, but also maybe more visitors throughout Ireland, maybe times have changed. Our last trip, driving and not pedaling, we wound up booking everything before we left the USA. We were in Clifden during a festival, wanted to guarantee a room at another small place way up north, wanted a specific base for hiking along the Antrim Coast (including the Giant’s Causeway), and had booked private guided historical tours out of Trim, so knowing where we wanted to stay and ensuring we would stay there, was important. But on the biking trip, the flexibility to ride more miles some days, and fewer miles other days, or stopping in a place that caught our fancy, it all worked. But we still seldom waited until we actually reached the town for the night, and phoned ahead that same day to book, or had a TI office up the road in another town help us locate a place (making more than 1 call a couple of times to find a suitable place), to eliminate searching once we got to our town at the end of the day. Not waiting until you reach that night’s town might be more helpful now, than it was back in 2011. And there were two of us, and as mentioned earlier, you’ll need to find lodging for three.

Posted by
15 posts

My wife and went on our first trip to Ireland in 2001 and used B&B pre-paid vouchers and the printed B&B guide book with nary a problem travelling Dublin counter-clockwise up to the North, over to Donegal, down the Atlantic west coast and east to Waterford before returning to Dublin for the flight home.

We tried to reproduce this set-up for a return trip scheduled for three weeks in September, 2020, but the B&B book now is ONLY available on-line and the registration and reservation process requires on-line access. Not an easy feat if one is planning the majority of their trip touring desolate coastal areas along the Wild Atlantic Way.
We ended up giving our itinerary to an Irish travel agent who pre-set up our nightly lodging, so all we will have to do is to present ourselves at the scheduled lodging and give them our name.

Not as convenient, but if we are able to go, barring COVAD-19 issues, it WILL be an adventure.

rustymusket

Posted by
300 posts

In reply to neverhome's lament that the B&B Guidebook is available these days only in digital format, 'tis not the case.

Go to ireland.com, click on "Help and Advice" in the upper right, then the "Brochures by post" window, followed by the "By post" in the next small window and, finally, scroll down to "Bed and Breakfast Ireland 2020 ENGLISH" (as well as for other printed materials) and hit "Place order" in that window's upper right. Lastly, fill in your USPS details in the order window. And voila!

Even though it's called a "brochure", I confirmed with a Tourism Ireland agent that it is indeed the good 'ol printed, hard copy guidebook from years past. 56 pages worth, the same as the downloadable version. I also explained to the agent that "brochure" in the States means something quite different. It'll probably take four to six weeks to arrive, again, as in the good old days.

Posted by
206 posts

In 2016, I travelled through Ireland in June, and in most towns I saw a number of BnB’s and small hotels with “Vacancy” signs whenever I arrived.

More may be shut down due to the pandemic and may not reopen, but in a typical year, June is not as crowded as July.

You may have read this, but this is a good thread to follow about current 14 day self-isolation requirements. These may be in affect longer than we think.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/ireland/ireland-14-day-self-isolation-quarantine-for-all-arrivals-except-from-northern-ireland

All the best,

Raymond