What Should I Expect from a €20 B&B in Ireland?

A new breed of B&Bs are popping up in Ireland, especially on the West coast and in areas where tourism has been sluggish… it’s the budget B&B.

While €35 per person per night seems to be the going rate for a standard B&B in most parts, bargain-basement cousins are posting signs on the road for €25 or €20 per night. For Americans, that’s a savings of $12-18 per person per night, but the question has to be asked, “Do you get what you pay for?”

This summer I tested a few of these reduced rate operations and can honestly say they “get the job done,” but they are definitely offering a pared-down service.

Here are a few points that describe many of the places I visited:

  • Signs often included tell-tale phrases such as “Budget Accommodation,” “Hostel with Private Rooms,” the rate is often posted on the sign, and some displayed a “bed only” rate.
  • Many homes were sparsely decorated… in most cases that was because the owners didn’t live in the house, although they were, for the most part, owner-operated.
  • The beds were a bit harder and the pillows a bit thinner.
  • The cleanliness of these places was good… especially the sheets and bathrooms, but the furnishing and finishes were “worn around the edges.”
  • Breakfasts did not include hot options (although one host was making hard boiled eggs upon request). Instead, there was serve-your-self cereal, granola, juice, tea, toast, coffee, and fruit (sometimes canned, sometimes fresh)… some places even included a tray of meats, cheeses, and yogurt (which ended up being a very filling breakfast).
  • The Dutch and the Germans seem to know how to find these places better than any other nationality… each place I visited said they made up well over half their bookings.
  • Lawns tended to be less landscaped; the emphasis was on strategically placed gravel for convenient parking.
  • All offered tea or coffee in the breakfast room at check-in (no in-room hot beverage facilities).
  • Heat was turned off in rooms, and I had to turn the knob myself.
  • All places had modern, standard showers, so hot water and water pressure were never an issue.
  • All rooms included a private bathroom (en suite)… there were no shared toilet or shower facilities.
  • Linens, towels, and soap were provided.
  • Hosts were friendly and knowledgeable about their area.
  • These were cash-only operations (which is the case with many B&Bs).
  • Some of the B&Bs seemed to be built during Ireland’s boom time, which seemed to translate to a lot of pine… pine trim, pine doors, pine spindles, pine headboards, pine cabinets… hey, I’m just calling it as a I see it.

So after spending every evening last month scouring TripAdvisor, should you ditch that multi-starred B&B you so carefully selected? The answer is no. If you’re tempted by the sumptuous 4-star descriptions, you’re setting yourself up for major disappointment at a 2-star B&B. Meanwhile, if you’d actually settle for the top bunk of a dormitory-style hostel, these places will seem like castles.

Budget B&Bs are there to give you a place to sleep and a light meal (unless of course you book bed-only), so don’t expect more… and if you do get extra, count it as a bonus. If you decide to leave a review on a forum like TripAdvisor, be sure to put your experience in context to help others know exactly what they’re getting and what the tradeoff might be.

Author: Corey

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  1. “Heat was turned off in rooms” – Who needs heat in August? 🙂 The 2012 summer can’t be that bad for sure, can it?

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    • I was there in July, so the seasons hadn’t changed yet 😉

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  2. Hi Corey, I guess the economy does have its positive side. There were plenty of times traveling to Ireland when all I needed was a place to lay my head, a clean room for 20 euro would be greatly appreciated. Your information on how B&Bs charge per person not per room is helpful, as most of we people from the States are more used to hotel rooms at a set price. Simple thing but nice to know,

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    • Thanks Brian – I’m seeing a few places advertising per room rates — I’m sure they’ll be even more confused Yanks as a result 🙂

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  3. There are a couple of the €25 B&B in Clifden, Booked one a couple of years ago staying an extra night for Arts Week. It was a Bed, one of the only beds in town that night. Would I stay there again? No. would I recommend to a friend? Better than sleeping in the car, just. How was Breakfast? Across the road and shouldn’t have bothered.

    To be honest people are far better paying the extra €10 for a standard rate place.

    Trip Advisor reviews? Read with a critical eye. The review may or may not be a true reflection. It may have been written by someone with a totally different set of expectations. Or worse still it may be totally fictitious.

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  4. You know I’m a fan of staying light so I can spend my money on experiences, one thing I did notice you didn’t mention: are any of them including kitchen privileges? To me having eaten the wonderful food available at all markets I’m happy with a dozen eggs, bangers and some brown bread that lasts me a week tucked away with my name on it in someone’s fridge LOL! Just curious 🙂

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