When all you need for your perfect holiday is a warm bed, the right location and a built-in social scene, a hostel is just the thing
For some vacations, it’s all about luxury; others, history; and then, there are the simple, stripped-back, super-chill trips that are all about the destination. The ones where you’ve spent all your energy seeing the city sights, and just need a place to lay your head before pounding the pavements the next day, such as Gogarty's International Hostel in Dublin's cultural quarter; the ones, like Kilronan Hostel on the Aran Islands, where all you want is a hot shower after a day spent surfing the wild Atlantic waves; the ones where the unspoiled mountain landscapes outside the window are so beautiful that your dreams could never match them; the Mourne Lodge in the heart of the Mourne Mountains, are a great example of these.
These are the trips where nothing beats a hostel. And we’ve rounded up some of great ways to stay in a hostel around the island...
Hostels for every type of trip
Whether you’re looking for a group-friendly spot for you and your closest gang of friends, or you’re a solo traveller eager to meet others on the same buzz, hostels offer the ideal balance.
Many for whom city-centre hotel prices are unrealistic can find centrally located hostels at a fraction of the cost. Boutique-style Generator is at the heart of Dublin city; while Dream Pods is surrounded by restaurants and attractions in central Belfast; and Galway City Hostel & Bar looks out over Eyre Square.
For more rural stays, An Óige’s (the Irish Youth Hostel Association) youth hostels are hard to beat. With 85 years’ experience behind them, these hostels spread across nine counties aim to foster an appreciation for Ireland’s unique countryside, culture and heritage in all who visit. Others include Ballyhoura Luxury Hostel in County Limerick; County Sligo’s Benwiskin Centre; and Finn McCool’s Hostel along Northern Ireland’s spectacular Causeway Coast.
And for somewhere with that little something special, try the beautifully designed Nest Boutique Hostel in Galway for its ensuite rooms and locally sourced breakfast; or Killarney’s award-winning Black Sheep Eco Adventure Hostel, home to a dog who’s more well-travelled than most of the guests!
What to do while hostelling
One of the great joys of hostel travelling is the social aspect. You’ll never meet the range and variety of people in a hotel that you’ll come across in a hostel – so make the most of it! If you’re on your own, introduce yourself to fellow travellers, especially your roommates. Linking up for day trips or activities, or joining the group dinner nights and classes hosted by many hostels, can lead to moments and friendships you’ll treasure forever.
If you’re staying with friends, get to know the front-of-house staff. Hostels often employ residents to man the desks and work in housekeeping, so chances are these people have been here for a while and will know the area inside out, as well as what local offers and discounts are available to hostellers. Insider tips can unlock some of the best experiences you’ll have on any holiday – so be sure to root them out!
Hostels everywhere you turn
Ireland's hostelling gems
Discover some of the island's most enticing places to stay
Belfast International Youth Hostel
Largest hostel in Belfast offering a mixture of standard and ensuite bedrooms in a range of sizes at excellent value. Belfast International is within walking distance to Belfast City Centre’s main attractions, nightlife, shopping and transport hubs.