How difficult is it to travel around Ireland in a car and make nightly reservations? We are going October 9 2007 and have no definite plans.
It's not that hard, actually. A few years back, I called ahead a few days to book each time, and that was in summer. The only time I had a problem was in Cork, due to a bank holiday weekend and a playoff hurling match (But even that eventually had a happy ending).
October is off-peak, but most B&Bs that close for the winter will likely still be open, so you shouldn't have trouble. Plus, having the car means if you get shut out in one town, you can always drive to the next one.
Plus, in some cities, every third house is a B&B it seems, so you'll have lots of options. There are also free or cheap books available with B-B listings you can get when you're there that I've found helpful.
I just returned back from ireland last week. We stayed 7 nites in B&B's. I had to prebook all of them. Alot of them where sold out in the areas we stayed. When speaking with the owners they said it stays busy all year long. If you want to stay in town & within walking distance to the attractions & pubs, I would pre-book. We did not find one bad B&B out of 6 different ones. If you want to explore more and find off the beaten path places there are B&B's along every road & small town. Driving was not a problem, but i would think wasting time trying to find a room once there would be a pain.
It shouldn't be a problem finding B&Bs. On my first trip we prebooked everything only to have two of the places lose our reservations before we got there. In one case they sent us to one of their friends', and in the other, they still had room for us. The other two times I've been I haven't booked anything in advance except my guesthouse in Dublin. I just drove until I thought it was time to look for a place, and the first place I stopped always had room. Most B&Bs will be open in October.
If you know where you will end up on a particular night, you can stop at a TI in any town on your way and have them book ahead for you. We've done this lots of time when we have had no itinerary. Saves the agro of having to find something before dark!
My next trip I'm hoping to live dangerously. We saw at least one B&B sign every mile in most areas that had any kind of population. Many looked like neat places and I know they weren't all on the list at the Irish B&B web sites. Especially off the beaten track I think you'll find homes with signs out.
I agree with Laurel and Linda.You can pick up an official B&B guide at tourist info spots for about 5 euro. Ireland is about as tourist-friendly as it's ever been right now.
Time of year has a lot to do with it. By the end of September, tourism has pretty much chilled. Most B&B's really like advance notice so they can plan for it. B&B are hit and miss in my opinion. You're dealing with people. I've stayed at places other folks raved about only to give it a "C". Last time over we stayed at 3 different ones, East Dunmore, Wexford, and Kilkenny. A, B and D. were our ratings, and the D was highly recommended.
We stayed at B&Bs 14 nights and they all were good.Obviously some were better then others but we had no complaints.We booked our first and last nights and on several occasions the B&B host called a place for us.However if you want the best places Steves suggests Id book ahead.
My first trip I had to have every night pre-booked even though I was planning the trip w/one of my cousins who grew up outside of Galway. In a way it was great because we knew where we were staying every night, however, the down side was that some days when we wanted to go 'off the beaten path' we struggled to get to our B&B's before midnight. I called it our "stop & click tour". Instead of trusting my cousins many comments that there would be plenty of B&B's - I refused to listen. I go home at least every other year and now I only pre-book my first night. When I go next year I am going to wait until I arrive in Shannon. PS: You may want to get a cheap cell phone from either Vodaphone or O2(pronounced Oh2);which are pay as you go. I got one on my last trip and it really helped booking my B&B's and have passed it around to members of my family who travel back & fourth; so it has paid for itself. It cost me about 29 euro(s) and came w/a 20euro phone card. It was fantastic.
If you want to use Rick's B&B suggestions in his guide book, you will probably want to reserve them in advance, especially for the weekends. For my trip in Sep (just got back) I booked my B&Bs in May and found a lot of them were full and ended up with my 4th or 5th choice. Weekends, all of Rick's favorites were unavailable.
Rick's suggestions are always full for obvious reasons. Each area you go to usually has a tourist web page. They list local B&B's and most are rated. B&B's are nice but self-catering saves you more by being able to cook 3 meals a day instead of eating out for 2. Irish food is not great to the average American. With the Euro at $1.40, combined with their inflation index, it's darn expensive to eat out every day in Ireland. We figured we saved $75 per person per day by self-catering. Being able to cook most of your meals can almost make the lodging a wash.
Got back from Ireland last week-had difficulty booking on a Friday night-did not get our choice-would book all in advance in the future-so if you are running behind-which we were all week-that leaves more to do on your next trip !
When we went to Ireland, we had our first two nights booked at Ashgrove House - Bunratty, and after staying there, decided to come back and spend our last night there also since it was not too far from Shannon airport. Otherwise, we had no trouble driving to towns and finding available rooms - and we needed 3 rooms for 5 people.