I’m not on anybody’s payroll, so I can be quite candid on this matter. On the other hand, many of you may never tour Ireland or the British Isles, so I don’t want to belabor the point of where to stay. But, I’ve decided to share just a few of my favorite opinions and places.We have seven children, and so money has always been (and doubtless will always be) an issue! In the cities (especially London), if you’re looking for a great deal, my first choice is usually the Ibis Hotel chain: clean, neat, adequate, and often very inexpensive. (Hostels are even less, but you also get less.)I always do some comparables just to make sure, though, and sometimes I stumble upon a real prize at a great price, like our room overlooking the Sea of Marmara last fall. (Sometimes I get a real doozy this way too… like the time in Florence when I “just had” to have a room with a view [of the Duomo] for Joel. The view was great, but the room… ) I think kayak.com is the most comprehensive site for comparables, although cheaphotels.com is also good. (The series of animals shots are from the walls of the Cappabhaile House.)
But, what if you know you’re going to end up in the middle of nowhere at the end of your day? You can’t just call your local Comfort Inn…So, after economy comes variety. If you can afford a little extra from time to time, then try to find unique opportunities for memorable experiences.Some hole-in-the-wall spots are really very unique, and sometimes out-of-the way bed and breakfast places provide unforgettable experiences in local cuisine and culture, especially if you have particularly hospitable hosts!This was so true of our stay at the Cappabhaile House near the little coastal village Ballyvaughan in the Burren. It wasn’t cheap but it was a great value! For instance, can you count the types and amount of meat and eggs served with their “Full Irish” breakfast? (We also had some very unusual dishes, like blood sausage and various jams made from local berries.) And this, I might add, was after a bountiful assortment of cereals and pastries! Each room was unique and elegant, richly furnished and complete with… steaming pots of tea and several types of “biscuits” (tea cookies). Our room had this lovely pastoral scene out the window in the evening, and a similarly comforting view of sun and showers the next morning!We were invited to a free lecture as part of the “Burren in Bloom” Celebration,but due to the rain and our challenging itinerary, we decided to head out as planned. Still, Connor and his wife were wonderfully hospitable, answered all our questions about the area, and even made sure we knew of a wonderful local site which hadn’t made it into the guide books. (I’ll post on that next!)They even insisted on coming out in the rain to take a picture of us before we left! Our hosts were so warm and welcoming that it made me think of the way station in Pilgrim’s Progress where Christian and his friends were refreshed on their journey to heaven.So, if you can and when you can, look for places where you will come away feeling delighted and refreshed! Sometimes you just need a place to lay your head, but sometimes it’s great to enjoy local hospitality with people who will take a personal interest in you, be gracious, and share their wisdom—sometimes even urging you to consider an option that you hadn’t thought of before. It was most inspiring, and I would like to be just like this for anyone who visits my home!
In Titus 1:6 we are told that it is good to “be a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate.”