Self-catering means renting a cottage, house, condo, apartment or even a castle. More and more people are finding that self-catering is the perfect way to see Ireland. Not only can they settle in to a comfortable place that is fully equipped to live in but it can also be very cost effective especially when shared by more than two people. For those traveling with families it can be the perfect solution, giving the room needed without feeling confined to one or two rooms. Most self-catering places have several bedrooms, a bathroom or two, a kitchen, dining area and living room. Some have fireplaces, children's outdoor play areas and barbecues. It is easy to save money by cooking simple meals yourself. Grocery shopping in Ireland can be fun especially when you make new discoveries of foods you can only find in Ireland.
Renting gives you the freedom to really get to know the locale in a way that few tourists do when they breeze through an area. You will get to know the people in the local supermarket, pub and shops. There is no rush to cross sightseeing off a checklist. Instead you can take your time exploring off-the-beaten-path places that are all the more charming because you are the only ones there.
It is important to choose the location carefully so you have plenty of day trips to make from your home base. Although, I'm sure that any place you choose will reveal a plethora of interesting side trips. Some people want to stay in remote areas while others prefer to be close to a town with its pubs, shopping and other amenities. Whatever your style you will find a place that meets your needs.
In the off-season many self-catering properties rent for a few days at a time. You can find weekend breaks, mid-week breaks and other specials. During the season you will usually find weekly rentals that rent from Saturday to Saturday. Since you will stay put in one place for several days, I recommend you choose a 4-star property if possible. It is worth paying a bit more for a nice place to stay.
There are a few things to keep in mind when considering self-catering. Unlike B&Bs where breakfast is included, you will be cooking your own breakfast and other meals. You also need to keep your cottage tidy yourself because few places have maid service. Prices depend on how large the property is, time of year, location and what is included. In the Republic of Ireland there is usually an extra charge for heating and electricity. There may be an extra cost for linens and towels. In Northern Ireland most places include the cost of heating and electricity. But read the fine print to discover exactly what is included.
You can order a free self-catering guide by calling Tourism Ireland: 1-800-223-6470 (US & Canada). I also have links to self-catering sites on my Links page. Starting with the 2007 edition of my book, I will include listings for self-catering places that I have either stayed or have inspected.