Exploration

9 unique hotel stays in Ireland for adventurers

© Finn Lough Resort
Written by Joe EllisonPublished on
Outside of wild camping, these are the coolest places to explore the Irish outdoors.
Whether you're hankering for a wild weekend away or simply in need of a remote break to go off-grid, we've got you covered.
Ireland's landscape is not only rich and rugged but also peppered with incredible hotels that put adventure right on your doorstep, offering you experiences you'd struggle to find anywhere else.
Some boutique, some budget (rates are entirely dependent on the time of booking), all inimitable in their own way, you can bet there's something for everyone in this list. Best start clearing your diary...

1. Lost Cottage, Kerry

Lost Cottage, Kerry
Kerry's Lost Cottage overlooks the dramatic Carragh lake
One bleary-eyed glance at the Lost Cottage and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the wilds of Scandinavia as opposed to deepest Kerry. Dwarfed by the Seefin Mountains, and perched in Ireland’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, the revamped cottage even features a sunken bathtub and clear glass bathroom ceiling for stargazing in the suds. In the daytime, however, try your hand at the Glenbeigh Horseshoe circuit, part of the fabled 200km Kerry Way trail and a perfect way to take in some incredible vistas. Good job there's a big lake (Carragh) nearby because, at £1,545 per week for four guests, you really will be pushing the boat out...

2. Tubbrid Castle, Kilkenny

Tubbrid Castle in Kilkenny
Tubbrid Castle: where contemporary design meets ancient architecture
As quirky Airbnb listings go, ‘You’ll have the castle to yourself’ really does take some beating. This stunning 15th-century fortress in rural Kilkenny has incredible views across the region and now boasts the sort of luxe touches that even 21st-century royalty would admire. Once you've acquainted yourself with the rich history of the castle, why not take on a nice hike? An hour's trek to Urlingford, when you reach the village you can complete a picturesque 8km loop of the village on The Islands Walk.

3. Tipi Adventures, Wicklow Mountains

Fancy sleeping above ground in a hammock tent, or how about sharing a full-size tipi with five mates? Whichever one gets the WhatsApp group buzzing, this private forested area in the heart of Wicklow Mountains will have you feeling like Bear Grylls and Lara Croft's love child in no time. Activities that Tipi Adventures Ireland are able to provide include mountain biking, archery, pony trekking, kayaking, bushcraft, and guided hikes around some of the region’s best trails — just arrange in advance.

4. Cropod, Co. Donegal

To paraphrase Bilbo Baggins — who himself would surely appreciate this Shire-like Earth House buried beneath the hillsides of Southwest Donegal — you’re going on an adventure (don't make us use the GIF). That's right, within walking distance of seven impressive lakes (don't forget your standup paddleboard), the Cropod is also only a short drive away from the rugged Wild Atlantic Way, where you can find a few secluded beaches around Glenlough Bay and beyond.

5. Wicklow Head Lighthouse, Wicklow

If the recent claustrophobic horror movie The Lighthouse hasn’t put you off these stony beacons for life, this iconic lighthouse, originally built in 1781, damaged by a lightning bolt in 1836 and since lovingly restored, is a perfect abode to stay in with some mates. Practically a coastal adventure in itself, the lofty beacon is also only a 15-minute drive up the coast to the River Vartry, which it's possible to kayak on with Wicklow Kayaking.

6. Finn Lough Resort, Co Fermanagh

Finn Lough Resort
Yes, that's really a four poster bed inside a bubble
If you’re looking to be at one with the outdoors and recharge your mental batteries, then think of this as the most reliable charger you've ever had. Finn Lough’s bubble domes on the shores of Lough Erne offer 180-degree transparent walls and the chance to really go off-grid like some titan of Silicon Valley. Explore the islands, sandy bays and river inlets by pedal boat (available to hire on-site), but make sure to finish any day out with a dip in the lakeside Finnish sauna.

7. Treehouse, West Cork

A hot tub high up in the trees of West Cork
A hot tub high up in the trees of West Cork
Branch out with your hotel choices via this eco-friendly treehouse in West Cork, complete with viewing deck and a two-person hot tub. Soak up the sights by day and head out for a special trip come evening time with Atlantic Sea Kayaking. Down at Reen Pier, some 15 minutes away, the group take you on the water from dusk into darkness for a truly memorable time.

8. Urban Tranquilatree, Cork City

Urban Tranquilatree, Cork City
Get respite from the rat race high above Cork City with Urban Tranquilatree
Typical. Just like buses, you wait for ages to read about a treehouse in Cork and then two of them come along in the same article. This one, however, overlooks the city of Cork itself and offers you the chance to have a respite from the rat race without really leaving the city at all. From the rope bridge approach up to to the winding stairs and panoramic views up high, you’ll instantly feel like the king or queen of the urban jungle.

9. The Library on Inch Island, Co. Donegal

Inch Island's 'Library' is one of the quirkiest Airbnbs in all of Ireland
Inch Island's 'Library' is one of the quirkiest Airbnbs in all of Ireland
Built in 1608, this bookworm’s paradise could itself very easily have been lifted off the pages of a fantasy novel. Sat in an old basement of an old manor house, only a short walk from a beach on the relatively sequestered Inch Island.
Located just off the coast of mainland Donegal, the island is best explored with an 8km wetland walk. Keep your eyes peeled, too. A hotspot for ornithology, there’s every chance of spotting a Greenland white-fronted goose as well as a few other rare birds.
Looking to get even closer to nature? Click below for Ireland's best wild camping spots...