10 short break trends in Ireland for 2023 – from ‘hybrid hospitality’ to the return of honesty bars

Here are just some of the trends in our Fab 50 list of Ireland’s best places to stay this year...

A pod in the Windsor room at Arthur's, Hillsborough

One of the family-friendly dens at Bloomfield House Hotel in Mullingar

River Run House in Terryglass, Co Tipperary

Pól Ó Conghaile

After all of the pandemic pivots, an outdoor eating revolution and several years that have upended how we take short breaks, Ireland’s hotels, guesthouses and campsites are continuing to bend their offerings in amazing ways.

This weekend, we publish our Fab 50 list of Ireland’s best places to stay in 2023, a round-up that takes us all over the island and provides a priceless insight into how hotels, guesthouses and self-catering stays are changing for the season ahead.

Here are just a few of the trends we found on our travels this year.

1. Home, sweet home comforts

River Run House in Terryglass, Co Tipperary

“As good as your home — only better.” That was Caragh Walsh’s approach to refurbishing River Run House & Cottages in Co Tipperary. Today’s guests are alive to Insta and interiors shows, and alert to AirBnB trends. They upgraded their own homes and tech during Covid — and have high expectations as a result.

Think of Chromecasts at The Snug in Galway, a Quooker boiling water tap at The Regency in Belfast, or the amazing selection of teas in the drawer at Hidden Haven, a farm stay in West Cork. Homes used to follow hotels. Is it now the other way around?

2. Bunk up!

One of the family-friendly dens at Bloomfield House Hotel in Mullingar

Family rooms are usually built for four. But competition from cabins, lodges and other properties is forcing change. New dens sleeping six at Bloomfield House in Mullingar (above), or self-catering stays like An Cúlú, make creative use of bunks, for example. More, please!

In the meantime, here’s a list of hotel rooms that sleep families of five, six or more in Ireland.

3. Minimum stays

Hidden Haven - one of our Fab 50 for 2023

From Center Parcs to hotels, AirBnBs and glamping dens, two-night (or more) minimum stays seem to be on the increase. They can annoy guests, but come down to staffing and housekeeping efficiencies and a simple desire to maximise revenue. The flipside is that many also offer discounts — 10-15pc, for example — if you add a third night (particularly Sunday or midweek).

4. Honesty bars

The Gate Lodge at Mount Congreve Gardens, Co Waterford

They’re back! Or did they ever go away? From the period lounge at Stauntons on the Green in Dublin to a mini bar at Mount Congreve’s Gate Lodge, these trusting touches can save costs, create positivity and add a memorable, 24/7 experience where guests pour their own... providing they’re not open to abuse, of course.

5. The Townhouse 2.0

The garden at Staunton's on the Green in Dublin

Stauntons on the Green, No.31, Trinity Townhouse and The Wilder in Dublin. The Regency and Harrison Chambers of Distinction in Belfast. One Pery Square in Limerick. Butler House in Kilkenny. Two of the above make our Fab 50 this year, further confirmation that, slowly but surely, a new generation of townhouses are bringing small-hotel style, personal service and central locations to life in Ireland. It’s a gorgeous fit for a kind of hospitality we do extremely well.

6. Maximalist mega-headboards

Elephant Rock Hotel, Co Antrim

Boldly patterned wallpapers seem to be everywhere, crammed with botanical or animal prints. But we’re also seeing several properties, such as Elephant Rock in Portrush and Arthur’s in Hillsborough, that haven’t gone for full walls, opting for huge headboards with maximalist prints instead. Another hot interior trend this year? Brushed brass. It’s everywhere now!

7. Futuristic farm stays

From the treehouse dome and stilt house at Fernwood Organic Farm in Co Galway (above) to the off-grid Letteran Lodges in Co Derry or The Hidden Haven in Co Cork, the diversification of family-run farms to provide cool, small stays that blend and resonate with the landscape is starting to pay dividends for creators and customers. People are prepared to travel for quality cabins and lodges, and the sustainability messages are not missed.

8. To TV, or not TV?

Ballymaloe House, Co Cork

Ballymaloe House, The Hidden Haven and Strand Cottage in West Cork. I was surprised at these avoiding TVs in their rooms, but it makes sense in the right setting. If nature is a feature and Wi-Fi is good (guests usually have their own devices), then why incur the cost of expensive upgrades every couple of years?

Read our Fab 50 list of the best places to stay in Ireland in 2023 here.

9. TikTok tourism

A younger generation of stays, and properties targeting Gen Z guests, are putting Instagram and TikTok marketing front and centre, often inviting content creators with credible audiences (and carefully chosen to fit their brand) to stay and share imagery, before directing the resulting eyeballs to book direct on their websites, saving third-party fees. Letteran Lodges in Co Derry and Hyde in Galway are two examples.

10. Garden leave

The Sea Rooms at Kelly's

The trend for hotels leaning into their gardens continues — think of the new Sea Rooms at Kelly’s, Killeavy Castle’s walled garden studio, The Park Dungarvan’s outdoor dining area or Ballymaloe’s special packages with Birdwatch Ireland’s Niall Hatch.

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