I’ve always loved to travel. Whether it was a long-haul adventure to Borneo or 36 hours in Belfast, the world was my oyster; and when it came to packing light, you can be sure that Ryanair was never going to get a cent extra out of me in excess luggage charges!

Like most people, COVID-19 put a stop to my gallop around the globe, but perhaps the biggest change was the arrival of our daughter, Fallon, in December 2020.

Planning our summer travels around Ireland with a weaning baby meant that my top priority now was finding a hotel room with a fridge to store milk or access to a microwave to sterilise bottles; while packing light went out the window.

Self-catering is a great option for many families, but I still enjoy a hotel-type experience when I’m on holidays.

Many of the family-friendly hotels specialise in facilities and activities for older children, but I’ve included three different places that we enjoyed as adults, and were still very welcoming to our younger baby, as well as asking readers for their favourite places to stay too.

A little luxury in Killarney

The swimming pool at The Dunloe in Killarney was a major selling point for our first trip with baby.

When I started researching the best places in Ireland to stay with a baby, one of the names that kept popping up was The Dunloe, just outside Killarney.

While this hotel is less than 40 minutes from our own house, it was the perfect choice for our first night away with our baby last June, as we reassured ourselves that if we forgot anything, we could always drive home to get it!

And although we don’t normally treat ourselves to five star hotel stays, as lockdown had just ended, we figured we deserved a little luxury for one night.

The main attraction for us was probably the indoor swimming pool for baby’s first swim, but we also felt very comfortable bringing her into the buzzing Grill Restaurant, with its views of the Gap of Dunloe, as well as enjoying drinks on the terrace (and if you’re breast-feeding, the mocktails are great too!) For older children, there is plenty on site, including an extensive outdoor playground, fairy trail, kids’ club and even complimentary horse-riding.

We felt very comfortable bringing our buggy into the buzzing Grill Restaurant, with its views of the Gap of Dunloe.

We stayed in a garden room, which cost €280 based on two people sharing, with full Irish breakfast. A travel cot was provided and the room also had a fridge so we could store milk and snacks for the baby, but hotel staff are happy to assist with heating/sterilising bottles if needed. Family rooms are also available for two adults and up to three children, at €375 total per night. These comprise of a double bedroom with en-suite bathroom, plus an internal door through to an additional triple room, which also has its own en-suite shower room. The Dunloe will re-open on 14 April for the 2022 season. Visit www.thedunloe.com

Fallon enjoying the buzz at The Grill restaurant in The Dunloe in Killarney.

While you’re there: We loved our visit to Muckross Traditional Farms, which recreates Irish rural life in the 1930s and 1940s, with plenty of animals to engage young (and older) visitors, old-style dwellings and a buggy-friendly trail.

Glamping in Clare

Castledarcy Glamping is just a short drive from Lahinch in Co Clare. \ Castledarcy Glamping

We never get tired of Co Clare; and one of our favourite finds last summer was Castledarcy Glamping, just a few minutes outside of Lahinch.

Opened in July 2021, this family-friendly site has the most comfortable glamping pods we have ever stayed in. Inspired by traditional hay sheds, each pod is double-glazed and fully insulated and can accommodate up to four people between a king bed and two single beds (one single sofa bed and one single pull-out bed), though in our case, a travel cot was provided.

Inspired by traditional hay sheds, each pod at Castledarcy Glamping is double glazed and fully-insulated and can accommodate up to four people between a king bed and two single beds (one single sofa bed and one single pull-out bed), though in our case, a travel cot was provided. \ Castledarcy Glamping

Each pod also has a full en suite with shower and a kitchenette stocked with a fridge, toaster, microwave, kettle and air fryer. But we also loved the little touches, like the vintage-style record player, board games, local art and even a block of ice cream and wafers in the fridge!

Castledarcy Glamping is just a short spin from Lahinch.

Castledarcy Glamping will reopen for weekends from 16 March up until 15 April, and full-time until November. Rates are €160/night per pod off season and €180/night per pod in peak season, with a minimum two night stay. There is also a special offer for St Patrick’s weekend, with four nights for €400 when checking in on 16 March, and three nights for €350 when checking in on 17 March.Visit www.castledarcyglamping.com

The glamping pods at Castledarcy Glamping are inspired by traditional hay sheds, with every modern comfort.

While you’re there: Our little girl loved her trip to Moher Hill pet farm, less than a 15-minute drive from Castledarcy; and we enjoyed our coffee stop en route at Moher Cottage, with its lovely gift shop stocked full of Irish products and terrace overlooking Liscannor Bay.

Foodies in Galway

While it might be a boutique-style hotel, The Twelve has a fantastic family suite, with all the luxury touches you might expect (think a king-size bed with goose-down duvet, Voya toiletries, entertainment tablet). \ The Twelve

The Twelve Hotel in Barna, Co Galway has long been on the radar for foodies; but thanks to a tip-off on Instagram, we discovered that it made for a great getaway with baby too.

While it might be a boutique-style hotel, The Twelve has a fantastic family suite, with all the luxury touches you might expect (think a king size bed with goose-down duvet, Voya toiletries, entertainment tablet) but practical features like a full-size fridge and microwave in the spacious sitting room/chill out area. While we used the travel cot provided in our room, the sitting room has a Ligne Roset sofa that converts into beds suitable for two children.

The family suite at The Twelve has practical features like a full-size fridge and microwave in the spacious sitting room/chill out area.

We also loved the variety of options for eating in. While we didn’t get the opportunity to sample the award-winning West Restaurant, we enjoyed meals from The Pins Gastro Bar, as well as the in-house pizzeria and bakery. There is also a spa on site if you want an extra treat.

The starting rate for the family suite is €175 B&B, and there is currently a special offer of 15% off for midweek stays of three nights or more. Visit www.thetwelvehotel.ie

While you’re there: The nearby Barna Woods offers buggy-friendly strolls, while just a 20-minute drive away is a real delight in Brigit’s Garden, with its Celtic Gardens’ walk, café bursting with fresh produce (see picture right) and natural play area and “earth quest” trail for older kids.

The café at Brigit's Garden has a menu bursting with fresh produce.

Some tips

Maria’s top tips when travelling with a baby:

  • Order room service breakfast. Yes, there is usually a tray charge, but we found we were under less pressure to get the baby (and ourselves) ready in the mornings.
  • Other hotels we stayed in did not have a suitable in-room fridge, so we invested in an electric coolbox from Halfords. You can also plug it into your car, which is great for long journeys.
  • Our daughter was in the early stages of weaning when we first started travelling with her, so I was a bit nervous about what I could feed her “on the road”. But bananas and baby yoghurts (like those from Glenisk) were a Godsend.
  • Readers’ suggestions

  • Lisa says: “The Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny is brilliant: gorgeous spa area (the outdoor infinity pool!), playground, animal farm, the nicest staff and great value. We’ve asked them to put in a fridge every time we’ve stayed and it was no problem. They’re so accommodating.”
  • Jen says: “We had a weekend break in Dublin with our two girls. We got inter-connecting rooms in the Camden Court Hotel and it was great value and a great location. There’s a gorgeous pool in the hotel, which is amazing in the middle of the city and we’d a brilliant time wandering around, eating outdoors and going to the big playground in St Stephen’s Green.”
  • Moya says: “What we loved about the Amber Springs in Wexford is that we didn’t have to get into the car for two days while there. We went from pool to playground, to cinema to indoor playground, into restaurant and back to cinema! The choice of three restaurant options means you have something new every night and all of them are very family-friendly. It’s no problem passing a rainy day.”
  • Yvonne says: “Hotel Westport is lovely for us; pool, very accommodating staff and on the grounds of Westport House, so activities and a beautiful walk for a napping baby. Plus Westport is a lovely town.”
  • Sinead says: “The Quality Hotel in Youghal is fabulous. Rent an apartment or a house. It’s right on the beach and you can walk on a boardwalk on a beach into Youghal.”
  • Ann says: “Ferrycarrig Hotel (Wexford) is fab for families. They have a brilliant playground, a kids’ club and a family room with bottle prep machines, the works.”
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