Travel with Thom Breathnach: Six stays in the Kingdom for less than €150

Kerry good value? — There is something truly magical about heading to the Kingdom
Travel with Thom Breathnach: Six stays in the Kingdom for less than €150

It might be a bold statement to make as a Corkonian, but there’s something truly magical about heading to the Kingdom. It’s that cathartic feeling of road-tripping West and chasing the sun and catching that first glimpse of the MacGillycuddy's Reeks in the horizon after crossing the county line beyond Ballyvourney. And it never gets old. Having both lived and holidayed in Killarney over the years, the area seems to offer a soul-feeding sense of peak Ireland 24/7 and 365. Call it the never-ending spell of the county’s charm: an draíocht san Ríocht.

It’s that sense of escape Kerry offers — even to us Irish – that makes the county such an evergreen staycation hotspot.

But over the past year, the county has been getting a rep for its properties booking out fast and its hotel rooms demanding eye-watering rates.

So, is there any truth in it?

While price-checking for value for this week’s column, I did find prices in the county, for even four properties, north of €300 per night. I’ve paid less for hotels in Manhattan.

But it’s still very much a buyer’s market and amid its peaks and peninsulas, coastline and country roads, Kerry still offers staycation value for every budget. For July stays, expect to find everything from a decent €242 nightly rate at the five-star Muckross Park (which includes a feast-like breakfast, free bike hire and dreamy spa access) to a night of wild camping in stunning Coomshanna for, well, nothing.

So what are the keys to finding steps to finding value?

Firstly, a diminished events calendar is diluting the appeal of weekend travel; and midweek breaks are offering better value and less social FOMO for those with the flexibility to travel. Also, consider looking beyond the household names in Killarney when booking, or even beyond Killarney itself. How about a break in a heritage town such as Listowel, or finding a B&B escape in the wilds of Beara? Also, instead of hightailing your Ring of Kerry road-trip between Killarney and Kenmare, why not enjoy a stopover in often lower-cost towns like Cahersiveen, Waterville or Killorglin? For inspiration, the following are six options from across the Kingdom, including Killarney, who were offering summer rates this week from less than €150 per night including breakfast. Kerry abú!

Royal Valentia.
Royal Valentia.

Royal Valentia

A walrus put Valentia in the headlines this week so now may be the time to book a room before the eco-tourism masses descend. Dating from 1833, The Royal Valentia Hotel is a popular base for discovering both stunning Valentia Island and the rugged Skellig coastline. With South Kerry hosting one of the world’s three designated Dark Skies Reserves, this is also prime territory for star-gazing with the hotel even offering astronomy packages! B&B only rates start here from €109, though you can splash out for a four-poster sea-view room for €159, royalvalentia.ie

Castlerosse Park Resort
Castlerosse Park Resort

Castlerosse Park Resort

Following a rebrand which saw the property lose the 'hotel & holiday homes' from its title, the refreshed Castlerosse Park Resort is seeking to position itself as one of the most appealing holiday havens in Killarney. Beautifully located overlooking Lough Leane, the four-star property offers a switch-off setting while being just a 30min stroll — through the glorious national park ­— to Killarney. The hotel features a spa and 9-hole golf course while options like a kids club, bike rental and their self-catering lodges make it a popular spot for families. B&B from €135 per night, castlerosse.ie

The Red Room at Quinlan & Cooke's
The Red Room at Quinlan & Cooke's

Quinlan & Cooke Cahersiveen.

For a quirky but luxurious escape along the Ring of Kerry, the Quinlan & Cooke Boutique Townhouse is an imaginatively designed base in the heart of lively Cahersiveen. Contemporary rooms feature touches like monsoon shower, Nespresso machine and Bose iPod docks while the townhouse’s suite even rocks its own Pacman machine. There’s also a great seafood restaurant on-site to dine in during your stay. B&B from €140 per night, qc.ie

Farmyard Lane Glamping

Farmyard Lane is an eco-friendly glamping site in the heart of the Reeks District. Pods are kitted with comfy sofa bed, kitchenette and en suite with local plus points such as throws from Kerry Woollen Mills and coffee from Bean in Dingle. Guests also enjoy breakfast baskets with locally sourced ingredients, including farm eggs and honey sourced from right over the fence. From €144 (2 night minimum) farmyardlane.ie

For a glamping base on the Dingle Peninsula check-out coachfieldcamp.com

19th Hole Ballybunion

If it’s good enough for Daniel and Majella O’Donnell it’s good enough for me. The highly-rated 19th Lodge (as featured on the TV show) not only makes a golfer’s paradise with its location opposite Ballybunion’s links course, but the welcoming B&B is also a homely base for touring North Kerry’s often-overlooked coastline. Explore the region’s sweeping seaboard, discover the heritage town of Listowel, or pop across to the Loop Peninsula in Clare via the car-ferry from Tarbert. B&B from €130, ballybuniongolflodge.com

Kingston’s Killorglin

There’s more to Killorglin than being the goat festival capital of the world! The market town on the Ring of Kerry makes a great alternative base for an active stay in the Kingdom. Kingston’s Townhouse, a boutique bolthole in the heart of the town, offer a 'Hike, Eat, Sleep' package which includes an overnight stay, artisan pizza for two in their charming pub, plus a guided hike of Carrauntoohill with the folks from Kerry Climbing, for €285 per couple. Go it alone with their standard B&B rate from €135. kingstonstownhouse.com

For more on the Kingdom, see discoverkerry.com

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