Doras ABU Doras ABU The Bed and Breakfast System in Ireland
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Last updated 02-JUL-00
This is the first of two pages which describe the advantages and disadvantages of Bed and Breakfast holidays. They deal with types of homes, room types and sizes, the breakfast, the question of tipping, providing for children and the elderly, advance booking and typical prices, early morning arrival and so on. A further page gives some tips on etiquette in B&Bs.
LinksIntroductionTypes of HomesBeds &: BedroomsBed CoversBathrooms
Young & OldBooking and PaymentDaily RatesEarly Morning ArrivalNo TippingFinally...Etiquette in B&Bs
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The Bed & Breakfast holiday is typical of how most people visit Ireland, and you can be comfortable with the idea of flying here, renting a car, driving around a little, staying in B&Bs as you go, and finally returning the car to the same airport before flying home.

Well run B&Bs offer a very high standard of accommodation, and in addition, the unique experience of being welcomed into the private homes of the proprietors. All Quality Approved B&Bs are also the family homes, and it is this opportunity to be part of an Irish family for a short while which is one of the greatest attractions of B&B vacations in Ireland.

Types of Homes

There are three types of B&Bs to enjoy, and you may choose to try out several of these during your holiday.

Many B&Bs operate only during the summer, because the children are busy with their studies for the rest of the year, and the coming and going of visitors would inevitably be a source of distraction. Others such as ourselves can operate throughout the year, because their homes are quite large, and they can maintain a peaceful environment for the studies, or because the children have grown up and the rooms are permanently vacant.

Beds and Bedrooms

The Quality Approved Association lays down and enforces strict guidelines on the size and equipping of all rooms in the Bed & Breakfast homes. The rules cover the various types of bedrooms, the bathrooms, and the sitting-rooms and diningrooms.

Bedrooms are characterised by number of beds, and by provision or absence of a private toilet with bath or shower (i.e. en-suite or standard bedrooms).


Many Irish B&B use duvets instead of blankets. These have the advantage of being hypo-allergenic, and of being quite labour-saving in making up fresh beds.
A duvet is the size of a blanket, but is about two to four inches thick and weighs next to nothing. Summer duvets are thin; winter duvets are thick. The filling of the duvet is hollow fiber, and the duvet is sewn in such a way as to prevent the fiber filling from moving around inside.
For cleanliness, the duvet is slipped into a giant pillowcase usually termed a duvet cover.
We make the bed with fresh bottom sheet, fresh top sheet, and finally a duvet with clean cover.
Most pillows nowadays are also hollow fiber. Sheets are cotton or poly-cotton.
As described above, the entire set of bed-linen is hypoallergenic, and you ought not to have any problems even if you have any of the common allergies. You should not be obliged to bring your own bed linen.


  • An en-suite Bedroom has a bathroom which is a separate room attached to the bedroom and accessible only from it. It contains at a minimum a toilet, and either a shower or a bath. It is for the private use of the guests occupying that bedroom. (Of course a group may take one en-suite room and one standard room, and all may use the private bathroom.)
  • A Standard Bedroom does not have a private bathroom, but does contain a wash-basin with hot and cold running water. These rooms have access to a public bathroom which is lockable, and is available to all of the standard bedrooms. The Quality Approved Association has clearly specified the number of public bathrooms required and their facilities, depending on the number of bed-spaces in the standard bedrooms.

    We quote here a posting to a travel newsgroup in 1996 which is still as relevant today. It was a reply to a posting in which a traveller had complained about lack of hot water in a B&B. replied
    A bed and breakfast is a private family home, not a hotel. Homes do not have high electric power running into them, and in the countryside they do not have gas heating either. In England [and in Ireland also - Tom] energy is expensive and homes do not have the same amount of water heating as we have in the US. You do not show respect for your hosts nor for fellow guests, by taking deep tubs of hot water when you arrive in the evening and again in the morning. Do not think that it is a solution to get up first in the morning while the hot tank is full. All the other guests will be annoyed with you because they will have heard you wallowing in a hot tub, leaving them to bathe in the tepidly cool water remaining after your luxurious soak.

    All B&B homes have to have adequate hot water supplies while guests are visiting - enough for a good shower for each guest. But if you want to have a deep hot soak, check with the lady of the house on the night before. She might arrange extra heating if possible, or suggest that you wait in the morning until everybody else has showered, and then allow you to take all the hot water that remains.

    Children and the Elderly

    You must consider the physical fitness of an elderly person, even for the stress of sitting in a passenger seat of a compact car with manual shift, driving on the wrong side of the road in a country in which you are not "tuned in" to the driving habits of the people. Perhaps you should consider limiting your driving to less than two or three hours per day?

    Again keeping physical fitness in mind, you may have to consider taking accommodation in single-storey homes only. The width of stairs is from 30 to 36 inches, often with a 90 or 180 degree turn half way up. Bed and Breakfast homes are private homes in which some rooms are made available to guests - they are RARELY IF EVER equipped with elevators.

    Where any person with special needs is booking into accommodation (whether it be hotel or B&B) it is important that they make their needs known at the time of booking. Then the proprietor can provide for their needs in advance, and save any embarrassment upon arrival or when the need comes to light.

    For elderly people it may be a need for ground floor rooms, or special diets or provision for incontinence etc. For children it may be cots (cribs), a glow-bulb lit all night, milk-heating facilities. or very often just a big box of toys! Well run B&B's receive such enquiries all the time and for the most part will be able to provide for them.

    Some B&Bs, mainly those at seaside resorts cater especially for active children. Their rooms are arranged to be free of objects which might harm the children (or vica versa!), and they can cope with buckets & spades, and sandy swimming trunks. Others are arranged for the adult traveller, and cater well for children also - but just for bed and breakfast!

    This section will be expanded further and we welcome your own tips on how to make your B&B holiday in Ireland more enjoyable and memorable. Please use the links below to continue to the second page of this section.


    LinksIntroductionTypes of HomesBeds & BedroomsBed CoversBathrooms
    Young & OldBooking and PaymentDaily RatesEarly Morning ArrivalNo TippingEtiquette in B&Bs
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