1 month ago

Pretty Pods, Design-led Cabins and Glossy Glamping … Alternative Irish Staycations


Does camping conjure up thoughts of leaky tents, cold ground sheets and dampened spirits, not to mention washing with wet wipes? Then, think again and rest assured I wouldn’t recommend anything that basic! From tepees and camping pods, to cosy cabins and chic safari tents, here are some truly unique ways to enjoy the great outdoors and have some epic fun without the epic trek this summer.

Cabü By The Lakes, Co Cavan

For the curious, design-led, conscious traveller looking for quiet escapism, Cabü By The Lakes is a 100-acre hideaway opening on July 20. The setting – deep within the woods of Killykeen Forest Park on the lakes of Lough Oughter – could not be more peaceful and is the ideal place to focus the mind with some forest bathing. As for accommodation, Cabü’s beautifully-crafted open plan cabins feature Loaf furnishings, smart TVs, al-fresco dining and warming wood-burners. Options range from intimate one-bed Log Cabins to three-bedroom Boat Houses and guests can self-cater or they can take advantage of the fully licensed Cabin Club – an all-day dining concept, with indoor and outdoor seating, roaring fires, games, music and a cocktail bar all located at the heart of the property. For guests looking to book a fishing lesson, rent a paddle board, canoe, kayak or hire a bike, Cabü Corner is a one-stop-shop for facilities, while also offering groceries, gifts and more. Prices start from €175 for a one night stay in a Log Cabin; www.holidays.cabu.co.uk.

The Cosy Cabins at Dunbrody House, Co Wexford

Offering guests a back-to-nature retreat, these cosy cabins are set in the woods near the Dunbrody herb garden – the only sounds you’ll hear are birdsong and cattle lowing. Overlooking the valley down to Arthurstown Harbour, cabins are decorated New England-style with one double room and two singles, a lovely open space to sit and relax and a terrace from where you can watch the sunset through the trees. A considerable bonus is they’re close to the main hotel where you can dine in the restaurant, enjoy a cocktail before dining at the seafood bar, or more casual pub. Although the cabins are not self-catering, breakfast is offered as an additional extra in the Harvest Room Restaurant. From €150 per night sleeping up to four people; www.dunbrodyhouse.com.

Larchfield Estate, Co Down

“Myrtle” as she is called, is a 1952 Saurer Swiss Army truck cleverly adapted and crafted to present a romantic getaway escape for two, complete with a wood burning stove, under bed heating, sauna and fire pit. Located at Larchfield, a 600-acre family run country estate in Co Down, minutes from the N1/A1, the estate is ideally located and close to the villages of Hillsborough and Saintfield with royal palaces, National Trust properties and antique shops galore to explore. Myrtle is available for bookings until October and prices start from £235 per night including private sauna and breakfast; www.larchfieldestate.co.uk.

Woodland Huts at Virginia Park Lodge, Co Cavan

Situated on the edge of Deerpark forest at chef Richard Corrigan’s luxury Virginia Park Lodge, these bespoke Shepherd’s huts are glamping at its best. Located beside the lake, guests wake up to views of the beautiful Lough Ramor. Inside is spacious and flooded with light with impressive features such as a Neff hob, power showers and wood burning stove. There’s also plenty of wardrobe and storage space. From €140 per hut per night, bed and breakfast; www.virginiaparklodge.com.

Tepee Valley Campsite, Markethill, Co Armagh

A tepee for two, or a “festy tent” for four, small yurts, log cabins, a shepherd’s hut and even a geodesic dome are just some of the options at Tepee Valley in Co Armagh, which enjoy views of the Cusher River and Slieve Gullion in the distance. Each option is carefully decorated with historical elements complementing the era in which they originated, such as the vintage china in the gypsy caravan and roll top bath in Abram’s House. Prices for two nights accommodation start at £140 to £150 for the geodesic dome; www.tepeevalleycampsite.co.uk.

Center Parcs Longford Forest, Co Longford

Center Parcs offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy a change of scenery and acres of woodland. As well as the forest setting – home to deer, red squirrels and pine martens – there is a range of indoor and outdoor activities on offer, as well as a number of restaurants and takeaway services. Reopening from Monday July 13, there is still time to book a short break with an added incentive – breaks until July 27 will be discounted as the village will open without the Subtropical Swimming Paradise. Each family has their own lodge, with self-catering facilities. Center Parcs has introduced enhanced cleaning programmes and to ensure social distancing the number of guests on each break will initially be limited. Short breaks start from €759 for a weekend (three-night) break in a two-bedroom Woodland Lodge (sleeping four); www.centerparcs.ie.

Pebble Pods, Strangford, Co Down

Nestled on private, tranquil shores of Strangford Lough, Pebble Pods is Northern Ireland’s latest luxury pod camping experience. There are three luxurious and cosy eco-friendly glamping pods – Trasnagh, Braddock and Drummond – which accommodate two people with amenities such as kitchenette, private hot-tub, thermal sauna, firepit and barbecue area as well as free Wifi. Not to mention complimentary bicycles and kayaking to explore Strangford Lough. The pods are ideally situated to visit pretty neighbouring villages, including Killinchy and Greyabbey, not to mention the superb National Trust properties of Castle Ward and Mount Stewart. As an adults-only resort, pods are £130 per night; www.pebblepods.com.

The Hideaway at Dromquinna Manor, Co Kerry

Guaranteed to please even the most camping-averse, The Hideaway is tucked away in a secluded part of the Dromquinna estate overlooking the idyllic Kenmare Bay. In fact it is not camping at all but a luxurious en-suite bedroom in its own private grounds. Decorated with an eclectic mix of antiques and native (Adirondack) furniture the style is laid back natural elegance. Soak in the beauty of Kenmare Bay as you sit on your veranda with the sound of lapping waters below. The only intrusion is the slow fly-by of resident herons. The Hideaway tent is fully stocked with books, board games, playing cards and magazines. A stay includes breakfast delivered to the Hideaway  each morning while guests can also avail of the onsite barbecue area or the Boathouse Bistro on the estate. Rates start from €350 per night, with a minimum of a two-night stay; www.dromquinnamanor.com.

Ballyvolane House, Co Cork

Arguably Ballyvolane House set the standard for luxury glamping in Ireland when they introduced their luxurious self catering bell tents and glamping ark which sleeps two people in a double bed. Fluffy towels, Wifi, homemade cookies, proper duvets, good lighting and enough room to stand upright in are just some of the thoughtful details. Guests have full use of a large communal kitchen and beautiful dining terrace, though there are plenty of  neighbouring restaurants to enjoy too. Onsite there is a tennis court, badminton area, a 7-aside soccer pitch, croquet lawn and lakes for canoeing and swimming. For the more sedate, the gardens of Ballyvolane are glorious and can be appreciated from sun loungers and deckchairs. Nearby, the beautiful Blackwater valley, with its many gardens and historic sites are well worth visiting, while the pristine sandy beaches on the East Cork and West Waterford coastline, and villages of Ballycotton, Kinsale and Ardmore are close by for day trips too. Prices start from €220 for a bell tent that sleeps two people for a two night minimum, the glamping ark is €245 for two nights. As well as this, glamping provides additional accommodation for those renting Ballyvolane House exclusively on a bed and breakfast basis; www.ballyvolanehouse.ie.

Mountain Sky Glamping, Dungiven, Co Derry

A luxury safari tent on a picturesque farm, with fabulous views overlooking the Sperrin Mountains outside Derry sounds idyllic and is further enhanced by the fact that most of the creature comforts you find at home can be found in the tents. A fully equipped kitchen, comfy beds and sofa, wood burning stove, and campfires outside your tent allow you to stargaze in the evening, toasting marshmallows over the open fire. Prices start from £99 per night (sleeping up to six people) with minimum three-night stay in July/August. Quote “Tourism NI” on the website form if booking before the end of July and receive a complimentary bottle of wine on arrival; www.mountainskyglamping.com.

Duck Pond Suites, Marlfield House, Co Wexford

I am just giving advance notice about these luxurious suites opening in September at one of my favourite hotels, Marlfield House. Overlooking the pond, in a lush, wooded setting these are eco-friendly luxe cabins with patio doors onto private terraces, featuring large bathrooms with a free-standing bath, walk-in shower, double sinks and separate loo. Of course the bonus is guests have access to all that Marlfield House has to offer – from lunch in the airy Conservatory, Afternoon Tea in The Drawing Room and casual dining at The Duck Terrace Restaurant, Cafe and Bar. It’s also the perfect base from which to tour all the sunny south east has to offer, such as the medieval city of Kilkenny and the monastic settlement at Glendalough. There is an opening bed and breakfast offer of €470, with dinner in the Duck Restaurant is €554, and €598 including dinner in the house. Guests booking via Blue Book or using vouchers will receive a complimentary Prosecco cream tea on arrival; www.marlfieldhouse.com.

Garden Summer Houses at Castle Leslie, Co Monaghan

If you want to dip your toe in the idea of a cabin experience then this summer Castle Leslie is introducing its new garden summer houses overlooking Glaslough Lake with The Castle as a backdrop. Catering for a minimum of two people to a maximum of eight people, the four garden summer houses are an ideal place to relax and enjoy private dining and can be booked for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. Currently there is a Girls Getaway offer of €50 per person (with a minimum booking of four people) which comprises a two course lunch or dinner and includes a half bottle of bubbly per person; www.castleleslie.com.


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