7 Top Air B’n B’s in the West of Ireland available RIGHT NOW – BEAN AN TÍ
In a post originally inspired by Journalist on the Run, and again prompted by my recent post on the West of Ireland and why it’s actually kinda great, I thought I’d do some research and compare some of the most interesting and unique accommodation options listed on Air B’n’B in the area, should you be so inclined to favour the internet over the traditional B’n’B strategy of knocking on doors and hoping for the best.
Also worth mentioning is a friend’s recent establishment of an Air B’n’B feeder company – quite aptly named in this sense ‘Bean An Tí’. The company offers regular or once-off cleaning and maintenance services to Air B’n’B homeowners for a fee and a kind word of recommendation. They’re currently based in Dublin and work with Air B’n’B hosts there, but should their success extend further afield in the coming months I’ll be sure to keep you posted.
Here’s a short list of some of the most intriguing dwellings in the Galway/Clare area listed on Air B’n’B right now..if number 5 doesn’t make you want to at least experience it I don’t know what will!
1. The Camper Van
Quirky Burren Camper
Ballyvaughan, Clare, Ireland
If you’re a fan of camping yet would prefer a
slightly more luxurious option (‘slightly’ in this case meaning absolutely marginal) this 2-bed camper van in Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare near The Burren is available to rent a mere 20-30 minutes drive from the Cliffs of Moher, Doolin, and the Ailwee Caves. Despite the lack of a shower (?!) this seems to be a pretty alright deal, with the only catch being that you can’t actually drive the camper van. Right. It also says nothing about heating or even a mini-heater, which, as anyone familiar with camping in Ireland will know is just a bit silly really. Ireland is cold. Undecided about this one.
2. The Stone Cottage
A stone cottage we call “The Bothy”
Gort, Galway, Ireland
This is the reason people come to the West. Typical traditional stone dwellings with no internet, TV, or external communicative outlets to be found, in the middle of nowhere. Great for a few days unplugging from the world….It may make you feel like you’ve escaped civilisation. Whether this is a good or bad thing, you decide. Cabin fever medication not included.
Car is recommended.
3. The Light House
The Light House
Fanore, Clare, Ireland
– a misleading title if ever there was one! Don’t be fooled here, you’re not going to get to stay in an actual Light House (how cool would that be?!) but this 2-person loft conversion above a house in Fanore, County Clare is still quite an attractive option. This is how you market your extremely clean but fairly average and pretty out-of-the-way spare room, people! €59 a night and with great views it’s kind of a no-brainer.
4. The Gate Lodge
Killoscully, Tipperary, Ireland
I’m not going to lie, this looks like something out of ‘The Secret Garden” movie. An entire charming country property available to rent complete with stone walls, surrounding coutry walks, and a stuffed pheasant in the window. Only a stone’s throw from Shannon airport and Lough Derg in Killoskully, Tipperary, this looks like a great option if you’ve forgotten your wellies – they seem to be included too!
5. The Wagon.
Kittyscamping cosy accommodation
Kinvarra, Galway, Ireland
For anyone who grew up watching ‘Into The West’ with Gabriel Byrne (classic 90’s Irish movie involving a boy and his mythical horse) this traditonal gypsy wagon accommodation will be like taking a step back in time. Stationary wagons accomodate up to 4 people and are situated in a campsite near the Burren, which also welcomes other forms of mobile accommodation. Shared BBQ and other amenities make for a real community feel. If that wasn’t enough they’re also situated close to the Burren and other tourist attractions, in case you didn’t want to, I don’t know, just live there and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. This looks so cosy I don’t think I’d ever leave.
6. The Cottage
Idyllic views in Connemara, Galway.
Oughterard, Galway, Ireland
If it’s views and typical Irish scenery you’re after, this ‘Idyllic’ property in Oughterard, Connemara has you covered. Still only 5 minutes from the town, the attached images and reviews seem to live up to the detailed descriptions and honestly look absolutely gorgeous. Yeh. Seems like a solid choice.
7. The Self-Contained POD.
Self Contained POD
Clare, Clare, Ireland
From Wonderly Wagon to a futuristic take on the same nomadic lifestyle – this ‘Self-contained POD’ in County Clare allows for comfort and style in a kind of festival ideal that will just make your heart ache for the ‘glamping’ area of Stradbally and Electric Picnic – only 3 months to go!
Whatever about budget accommodation and shared dorm-rooms, there’s nothing quite like being woken up to about 9 different phone alarms ringing from various corners and muffled covers of a 16-person hostel room, signalling a trip to see the sunrise behind the Angkor Wat temples. One after another, the Samsung and iPhone default alarm settings become the soundtrack to my morning in Siem Reap as I lay in wait for my own – because it surely can’t be 5am until my own device says so!?
It’s been happening all week, as our fellow travellers blindly seek their way to the bathroom in the semi-darkness to prepare for a long day of ‘being tourists’, Siem Reap being possibly one of the earliest rising cities in the country purely for the fact that its main attraction is a daily naturally occurring phenomenon. Our turn comes on a day when I’ve already been awake for a short while; I’m an early riser anyway, and so the premature sunrise and subsequent sunset during the Winter in Asia actually came as a shock to me not so much because it always seems to be slightly earlier than you’d think, but because for once the entire population and world around me rises with me, instead of afterwards, and I don’t feel guilty or apprehensive for waking people up.
Ten minutes after I shamelessly pull the girls from a deep slumber by employing the age-old tactic of shaking them ’til they groggily tell me to stop, we’re swerving around a street corner in a rickety trailer attached to the back of an old an noisy motorbike, as our tuk-tuk driver silently traverses his morning commute down what appears to function as a one-way street before sunrise. We find ourselves unintentional participants in a rat-race of identical vehicles, all surging forwards akin to a playstation game where the goal is simply to get to the finish line first, in our bid to reach the entrance to the temples before the sun peeked it’s head above the eastern-most tower. I’ve never seen anything quite like the huge mix of families, backpackers, elderly couples, middle-aged wanderers and still-drunk party-goers who presumably haven’t slept yet but have impressively managed to find their way to the temples after pre-purchasing a ticket, all disembarking from the assortment of tuk-tuks and motorbikes that line the streets at the main entrance to Angkor. We join the throng of camera-clad sky-gazers shuffling along the pathway in the morning darkness as many drivers settle back into their vehicles with newspapers and smart phones, preparing to wait for their charges to take some pictures of a view they merely glance at as regularly as I see the Leapcard machine on Dublin Bus when I’m at home. This might not be a fair comparison, given that sunrise at Angkor Wat is ultimately slightly more picturesque than the interior of a Dublin Bus, but you get the idea.
It’s an odd sensation as this particular days’ visitors to the temple gather in silent expectation around the little lake outside, hoping to catch a glimpse of the reflection in the water as well as the black silhouettes of the 5 towers of Angkor Wat. I hold up my camera blindly and press the button several times. I do this every couple of minutes. I’d say everyone else does too. I watch the sky change from a burning orangey-red, to a slightly brighter pinkish hue, suddenly joined by flecks of yellow and an undercurrent of purple and blue. Around me, photographers of varying levels of seriousness watch it all through the lenses of cameras that probably cause more hassle than anything to carry around, my trusty Android providing me with pictures just as good (if not better!) than some of the pictures I’ve seen online.
Once the sun has properly made herself visible through the cracks between the Eastern towers, an anti-climactic trawl back through the crowds leads us to follow one of the many pushy vendors along the pathway inside to have breakfast at their ‘restaurant’ – various pop-up eating houses ridiculously named with the intention of enticing hungry foreigners to sit there. We follow ‘Nelly’ to his café area, passing Lady Gaga, Spiderman, Ronaldo and Harry Potter on the way, and unfortunately having to tell Micheal Jackson that we’ve received a better offer.
After this, it’s time to start exploring properly, and together with some Canadian friends we bump into that we’d made in Mondulkiri, we source a guide outside to bring us around the Angkor Wat temples for a cheap enough rate each, given there’s now a group of us. It proves an interesting and well-executed tour, but the heat of the sun now properly risen means that I have to cover up pronto, the lack of clouds having proven beneficial during the actual sunrise itself now frankly uncomfortable on my white freckled skin.
I spot various monks around the temples, some clearly sightseeing, others presumably local and going about their daily practices. One agrees to bless us and tie a red woollen bracelet around our wrists, taking specific care not to even graze the skin with the tips of his fingers as he does so – monks aren’t allowed to touch women’s flesh, the consequence of which would result in their banishment from the monkhood! Talk about extreme measures…. We finish the Angkor tour, and after a quick refreshment, this time from Harry Potter, we negotiate a tuk-tuk ride onwards to the next temple, Ankgor Thom. This one is by far my favourite temple, the stone faces and maze-like tunnels reminding me of The Road to El Dorado and providing both a fun and cultural way to spend the afternoon, not to mention plenty of photo opportunities!
Good intentions and map-reading aside, we get well and truly lost in the final temple, Ta Prohm, or ‘the one from Tomb Raider’, as it’s more commonly known.
A combination of heat, fatigue, awful sense of direction and an array of nooks and crannies to explore meant that four or five times we backtrack on ourselves and have to extract directions to the exit fragment by fragment from a security guard with extremely broken English. It’s been a long day…..but it’s only 3pm! Naps are in order, and even the breeze of the tuk-tuk ride back to the Mad Monkey Siem Reap fails to wake us up properly.
We’d arrived in Siem Reap and spent the day exploring the city a day prior to undertaking Angkor Wat, and I have to say I liked it a million times more than Phnom Penh. Not only is it cleaner, less crowded, and more catered to visitors, but it’s actually fairly easy to navigate, and I’ve felt ultimately so much safer walking around here than I had in Phnom Penh. Everything is clearly labelled, from the ‘Night Market’, the ‘Day Market’, to the neon lights of ‘Pub Street’, meaning less time spent wandering around aimlessly searching for places even tuk-tuk drivers don’t know where to find. The “Beatnik Speakeasy” was an absolute gem of a find on Pub Street, my fascination with Jack Kerouac being clearly represented on the wall inside (the actual quote I’ve been using for this blog since I began it!) along with original beatnik-inspired cocktail concoctions, and we enjoyed a happy hour tipple or three here, for once completely surrounded by other Westerners and tourists alike, and actually feeling like we could relax a bit.
I’ve really become more comfortable with every aspect of this travelling thing now, our experiences before having felt more like pre-organised group outings, rather than independent and self-fulfilling navigation and exploration. We are so much freer to do and go where we please now, our decision to purchase visas to Vietnam being heeded on a whim and promising an unexpected twist for the next leg of our unplanned adventure.
With a bus booked to Ho Chi Minh city the following morning, the few nights in Siem Reap were over far too quickly, and after an evening socialising in The Mad Monkey I hastily repacked my bag with the clean laundry (hurrrah!!!) I’d finally managed to get done behind the counter, and attempted to get some much sought-after sleep.
I want to write, but ideally I don’t want to present you with repeated and recycled bullshit that I’ve seen online, and endless lists of things people don’t really care about purely to get ‘views’.
I want to write, but not be the kind of writer that is rude and/or judgemental of people who really don’t deserve it, again, purely to get attention or views online and in print.
I want to write, and not have to care about how well a piece of work is received or spread, because spending the entire creative process of writing it worrying how people are going to percieve and view it defeats the entire purpose of expressing my thoughts in the first place. The second I let a thought concerning other people’s opinions of my work enter my head, it no longer belongs to me. It has been tainted.
I want to write because I feel it is my way of communicating with the world, of putting some sort of solidity on the blinks and glances of thoughts that flit through my brain on a daily basis as I move from place to place, and possibly to make some sense of the more ambiguous ones; to really break them down in order to be able to put them all together again.
I want to write because I want to understand. I want to learn from what I see around me, I want to be able to structure some solid opinions and views on the world that are just not possible for me to clarify without writing them down.
I want to write to be able to support myself and feel a sense of fulfillment; to ensure I am able to travel around and see all there is to see, learn what there is to learn, and write about it while I go.
I want to write because I want to travel, and I feel that pictures can only capture the brink of what it really is to experience a new culture; a new country; a new climate or timezone.
I want to write because writing for me feels as natural as breathing, and having nothing and nowhere to write about is as suffocating as sitting at an office desk where the windows don’t open and the heating is stuck on high in the middle of Summer.
I want to be a writer, and I’m not going to pretend I haven’t bought into the current trends of trying to write ‘hilarious’ reviews with catchy or crude headlines, or pieces that will go viral online and receive a high readership – because I have. I’ve tried to write things people will find entertaining, interesting, insightful even. And sometimes I’ve succeeded. But where my heart truly lies, and it’s taken me a while to figure this out – is in movement, travel, and observing the world around me as I go. Staying still prevents the flow of words that comes like a torrent of ideas, emotions, and possibilities whenever I step foot into the world outside my door, whether it’s on board a plane, boat, train, bus; anything.
I want to write, and I will always continue to write and recount life experiences I have around the world, regardless if I ever eventually make it to Bali, Tokyo, or the Amazon. Anywhere will do. I just need to be moving. I need to be in motion for the channels of inspiration and structure to work together and allow me to produce something that makes sense.
I want to write, but I also want to travel, and the World is my destination.