Living with level three: How to be a tourist in your own county

Despite Level 3 restrictions, many hotels and accommodations across Ireland are staying open for the domestic market
Living with level three: How to be a tourist in your own county

Hard Rock Hotel

It’s a week that put the shock in seachtain. Just as Ireland’s hospitality industry was valiantly innovating in the wake of the Covid climate, this week’s government announcements have dealt a cruel sucker punch to the sector. 

As the reality of Level 3 became realised nationwide, hotels, restaurants and B&Bs across the country have been faced with the dilemma to stay open or close their shutters. 

But as many businesses call a soul-wrenching premature end to their season (and we hope to see them back on these pages soon), many hotels and accommodations across Ireland are staying open to hold out for the domestic market. And they need our support.

Businesses have shown in recent weeks that Level 3 can be weathered. Hotels in both Donegal and Dublin have continued to welcome guests, reimagining markets, deals and packages to keep the booking systems ticking.

In the capital, The Shelbourne, The Hyatt Centric and Castleknock Hotel are just some of the properties staying open, appealing to everyone from the business trade to couples seeking romantic getaways on their own doorstep. 

Not all businesses or indeed counties will be so lucky. 

Center Parcs, one of the most blockbuster additions to the tourism sectors in recent years, announced its closure this week, having had its guest market corralled to Longford alone. 

There will be exceptions in lower population bases. In Munster’s smallest county, Waterford, the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore will remain open, hoping that its Michelin Star restaurant will woo guests to stay from across the county for stays. For us staycationers, it’s important to note that while indoor dining at restaurants is no longer kosher, dining regulations means that hotel indoor restaurants can still remain open to residents.

Cork, through the arbitrary fate of county boundaries, faces a slightly more hopeful scenario with its hotels still open to a market of over a half a million people. The River Lee in Cork is one hotel keeping its doors open. “With this new level 3 restriction, we’re lucky to have a gorgeous outdoor terrace at The River Club so we can continue to cater for non-residents from 8am to 10pm.” says its GM, Ruairi O’Connor. “We’ve also developed a 'come for dinner, stay for breakfast' getaway called Stay & Dine that we hope Corkonians will enjoy. I think being a tourist in your own county or city can be a real breath of fresh air minus the long journey.” In a year of buzzwords, Corkcations may well be the new staycations.

Corkation

At the time of print, already a number of hotels across Cork have announced their intention to remain open during Level 3 to cater for both the county’s leisure and business market. The Trident in Kinsale, Castlemartyr Resort and The River Lee are all taking bookings while many properties like Ballymaloe House will remain open at weekends. For an outdoorsy getaway, Longueville House’s 19th annual mushroom hunt weekend is taking place from Oct 16. Along with foraging for fungi, the package includes a two night stay with two dinners, breakfast each morning, afternoon tea and a mulled-cider reception. From €389pps; longuevillehouse.ie

Déise Dream

There’s room at the inn. While rooms at the much sought-after Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore can get booked up months in advances, Level 3 cancellations means the hotel is wooing the Waterford market in the coming weeks. 

Beyond the stunning location, rooms, and spa, main player here is the hotel’s Michelin star restaurant where newly appointed Executive Chef, Ian Doyle (of Oaxen Krog in Stockholm and formerly Noma) is wearing the toque. The hotel is currently offering an overnight dining experience with a seaview room from €220pps. cliffhousehotel.ie

Dublin Sleepovers

For those in Dublin looking for a sleepover in the capital, The Shelbourne Moments package at the iconic hotel on St Stephen's Green includes one night accommodation with breakfast and dinner in The Saddle Room costs from €349 for two people sharing (theshelbourne.com). 

Down at Temple Bar, The Hard Rock Hotel are offering a Dublin Rocks deal which includes bed & breakfast and dinner on one evening in the hotel's Peruvian inspired Zampas Restaurant & Bar with a signature pisco sour to start the evening. €250 per night with an extra room free. hardrockhotels.com

Nationwide

Ballynahinch Castle
Ballynahinch Castle

As Ireland’s second biggest county and a population 250,000, Galway continues to offer myriad getaway options. The Galmont in the city remains open to guest as does the gorgeous Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara, while on Inishmore, Aran Islands Camping & Glamping are oscailt for business. 

Elsewhere in the country, The Heritage in County Laois will be hoping to welcome locals with one of the spa and dining packages, the Falls Hotel in Spa in Ennistymon is open in the Banner while in Wexford, Dunbrody House will be open to guests at the weekend.

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