It's hard to find the perfect place to escape to in Ireland these days. The Irish rental market is saturated with holiday rentals which makes it hard to find that dreamy bolthole that ticks all the boxes. A cosy cottage with modern furnishings... a bedroom with views out to the clearest blue waters... a turf fire to warm your feet after walking on your very own private beach... Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, what if I told you we found not one but two neighbouring cottages on the west coast of Co. Donegal that provide everything you could ever way from an Irish getaway?!
Back in November we were searching for somewhere that would be perfect for a winter break and came across these two beautiful stone cottages on Airbnb. Owned by the same couple, the cottages have been renovated consciously with the interiors feeling fresh and the exteriors appearing as if nothing had changed in the hundred years they'd been standing.
It was difficult choosing which cottage to book because each one sounded like a dream but in the end we chose the slightly bigger, newly renovated of the pair with a timber-clad extension. The extended part of the cottage is mostly all window framing the most spectacular view of the bay out to Dooey Point. Both bedrooms are huge, with the original underthatch having been kept to retain that authentic Irish charm.
We weren't expecting much luck with the weather given it was November and it was Donegal after all but we couldn't have imagined a more beautiful weekend. We had sunrise walks on the beach under a bright pink winter sky, watched the sun set over the hills across the bay and even managed a trip to Narin, Portnoo and Cruit island.
The kitchen is massive and would be perfect for two couples to spend a weekend cooking, having a few glasses of wine by the turf fire and playing games. We took a blanket outside on a clear night and drank wine looking up at the stars. You'll see more stars in one night here than you would in a whole year in a city and, if you're really lucky, maybe the Northern Lights might even make a show!
We had the best time that November and when COVID-19 struck earlier this year and when we realised we'd have to find somewhere to spend a long weekend closer to home, we knew exactly where to go. This time we wanted to try out the older thatched cottage and couldn't believe our luck when we saw there were free dates in mid-July. This cottage is more well known after it got written up in the Guardian a few years ago and for good reason. The exterior is your typical Irish cottage with uninterrupted views of the bay and inside is like stepping in to a Scandinavian cabin with pine-cladded walls and modern furniture.
There are the same quirky touches in both cottages; vintage cabinets, Catholic iconography and plenty of books to read on the window benches. In the older cottage we had a mezzanine bedroom overlooking the ground floor which was our cat's favourite spot to sit and watch us cook in the evenings. The stove was huge and even though it was summer, we had the turf fire lit every evening to keep us cosy when the rain swept in.
This time I was able to make more use of the private bay with my paddle board and took it out at sunset. The bay is incredibly peaceful, we barely saw a soul the entire weekend and as I paddled out on the calm waters I could hear nothing but the sound of my board gliding through the water, the distant roar of the sea breaking on the reef and the seabirds fishing for their dinner.
Each of the cottages would make a dreamy escape for anyone craving a bit of isolation and plenty of sea air. We ended both weekends feeling relaxed, refreshed and checking Airbnb for the next free weekend because these cottages book up months ahead. Just goes to show that there are plenty of folks who love them as much as we do!
Cottage 1 (our winter stay): https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/22476153?adults=1&source_impression_id=p3_1595016885_B9wlv%2B5rFZMiNK2%2B&guests=1
Cottage 2 (our summer stay): https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/19376210?source_impression_id=p3_1595016840_Pdq%2FC27VyCdfnLcg