If luxury self catering is top of your travel list, try one of these chic Irish boltholes.
Picture the scene. Light is fading. You've been delegated to set the table while your friend – a far superior cook – begins the finishing touches to the evening meal.
You've brought a few casual bits for the tablescape. You light the long-stem candles and place a linen napkin and wildflower at each setting. You rally the troops. Someone pours the wine. Chatter rises. Contentment settles.
This, or a similar enough scene, is playing out in imaginations across Ireland. We might be less enthusiastic about flying somewhere for a break, but gathering with much-missed friends and family is a priority, and ideally far away from the four walls we've been confined to. If you can plump for luxury self catering, here's where is top of our list.
Walden Lakehouse, Westmeath
When we photographed the Westmeath cabin of interior designer Egon Walesch (pictured, top and above) back in 2016, we lingered a little later than usual. As we slowly and reluctantly packed up the jeep, it felt like we’d been away for days, such is the calming power of this lakeside retreat.
Blending authentic mid-century finds with contemporary comfort, and restorative nature, this cosy cabin is available to rent via Unique Homestays, and sleeps up to four guests.
With eleven double bedrooms and nine bathrooms, the stone hamlets that make up Ballilogue, near pretty Inistioge in Kilkenny, are ideal for larger groups.
Inside the 18th-century farmhouse and lodge are a tasteful blend of old and new, which celebrate the Irish tradition but also considers modern needs. The result is lots of natural light and double-height living spaces, with homely touches of Irish craft everywhere.
Buncran School, Derry/Londonderry
Found just outside Draperstown, Bancran School House comprises of The Black Shack (4 guests), The Loft (6 guests) and The Pod (2 guests), all of which can be rented individually or separately. Clad in black Siberan larch, these tiny houses are brimming with warmth, comfort and thoughtful touches.
Both The Loft and The Black Shack have full kitchen facilities, while The Pod has basic appliances (a microwave, fridge, kettle and toaster). However, all have access to The Gin Tin, which has a large barbecue oven and an outdoor decking space. All you need really.
Kilbaha Cottage, Clare
“Sleep to the sound of the sea” invites Kilbaha cottage, which is found on one end of Kilbaha Bay in Loop Head. What an irresistible suggestion.
Sleeping six people with a minimum stay of seven nights, you’ll have plenty of time to bed into seaside views, take bracing windswept walks and barbecue fresh lobster and crab. In the evenings, light the wood-burning stove and catch up ’til the early hours.
Doolin Village Lodges, Clare
Another gem in Clare, this dreamy scene can be found in Doolin's Elfin Cottage, which sleeps four.
While the copper tub in the master bedroom provides a splash of decadence, the rest of the restored farmer’s cottage is comprised of humble, natural materials, and its pared-back simplicity is comfortable and cosy.
Nearby, you’ll find six other lodges from the same group – should you have a larger gang – and there’s tons of daytime activities if you're feeling energetic, or need to tire out children.
Bother Bui, Cork
Designed by Irish architect Robin Walker, the cluster of six buildings that makes up Bothar Bui has been a magnet for artists, writers and families throughout the years.
Overlooking Kenmare Bay and surrounded by 12 acres of indigenous oak woodland, you’ll find the kitchen/dining room (pictured above) and a living area in the original farmhouse, while four bedrooms are found in the mix of modernist and traditional side buildings dotted around.
Earlier this year, Mayo-based Superfolk took a trip there and wrote about their experience of daytime creative work coupled alongside “fireside dinners, candle-light, books and baths at night”.
Reading it is like taking a little imagination holiday, which let's face it, is all we have right now.
Lost Cottage, Kerry
Abandoned in the 1960s, this 19th-century cottage was tenderly brought back to life by the Spain family, who started its restoration in 2003 and added the extension; a wood grain oxidised concrete, which colour-matches the surrounding mountains.
Hidden away on Lough Caragh, down a narrow track, this secluded home has stunning views across the lake, and inside is all lime render, underfloor heating, cosy textiles and long benches for dining. This hideaway sleeps up to four guests and is available to rent via Unique Homestays.
Featured image: Walden Lakehouse
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