Christmas isn’t cancelled, at least not yet. Many overseas family members are still hoping to get home for the festive period to spend holidays with loved ones. The Republic has signed up to the EU – and UK – traffic light system to adopt a co-ordinated approach to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The system is evolving and current guidelines indicate anyone travelling in from a red zone, ie almost everywhere, will need to restrict their movements for between five days and 14 days before meeting family and friends.
News reports this week indicate that from December this period will be reduced to five days, after which a person can then take a coronavirus test. To be provided privately, they are likely to cost as much as €190 per test, a sum that will add up for travelling families. And where vulnerable elderly relatives are a concern, others may simply want to stay outside the home for longer periods.
For those returning who can pull off remote working from a different region, one option will be to rent somewhere on arrival in Ireland, and continue working from home during the restricted movement period. They will just need good wifi and access to food.
Short-let website Airbnb has nearly 230 listings within the Dublin region available for the two-week period from Wednesday, December 9th to Wednesday, December 23rd.
Prices for a family of five, comprising two adults and three children, range from about €1,332 for a two-bedroom townhouse in Dublin 7, where a long-stay (14-day) discount of €259 has been applied, to three-bedroom houses in seaside suburbs like Monkstown for about €4,000 for the same period. The platform offers free cancellation up to December 4th.
Johnny Drake is managing director of City Break Apartments, which operates about a 1,000 units in the capital. He says inquiries from those returning for Christmas are for longer periods than usual. “Many haven’t taken a summer break and are planning a three- or four-week stay.”
While business is down 50 per cent for this time of the year, the bookings being made are for seven to 10 days longer than usual. To facilitate those staying apart, Drake offers welcome grocery packages suited to singles as well as families. The firm also furnishes the tenant with a list of local supermarkets that deliver and restaurants offering Just Eat or Deliveroo no-contact drop-offs. “Another shift in the business is the demand for a proper office set-up,” he says. The firm can supply a desk and office chair to the property if required.
Agent Owen Reilly has clients looking for houses rather than apartments, but says that there is little availability of the former. For the latter, his minimum rental period is a month, but he says those staying for just two weeks are paying for the longer period.
Boutique operators like Pembroke Hall, an elegantly refurbished Georgian townhouse within a short walk of Baggot Street and Ballsbridge, offer private rooms ideal for returning singles or couples.
“Guests love the fact that it is very quiet and that each room is individually air-conditioned, so there is no exchange of air between rooms,” says Pembroke Hall owner Ian McCarthy.
Those booking benefit from lower rates than normal; currently the midweek nightly rate in December is €79, almost half of what it was last year.
The beauty of working remotely is it means you can locate almost anywhere in the country, says Rosie Campbell of Unique Irish Homes, as long as it’s within the delivery range of a good supermarket in the area. She says the shops in classic holiday spots Clifden and Skibbereen are excellent.
Kavanagh’s in Clifden will deliver to north and south Connemara on designated days and covers from Kylemore down to Carna, as well as out to Roundstone and Ballyconneely. “No one in west Cork will be without groceries,” says Adam Walsh, manager of Fields supermarket, which delivers to Mizen, as far east as Rosscarbery and even out to the islands of Cape Clear, Sherkin and Heir.
Skibbereen also has short- term office rental space for single or double use in the town. The collaboration between Fields and the Ludgate digital hub offers non-open plan offices at a location beyond the supermarket car park that includes both wifi and high-speed fibre broadband, with prices starting from €35 per day for solo workers and €55 per day for a double office.
Unique Irish Homes has availability in many of its properties, but you can expect a more stringent vetting process when booking, Campbell says.
“We have to be mindful of housekeepers and of locals. This will include furnishing your address so we can see where you’re coming from and how many households your party is made up of.”
Estate agent Nick Crawford, who arranges many of the A-lister stays in Dalkey and other south Dublin locations for the film industry, sees less of a take-up. “The mathematics of the holiday period won’t work for most once you factor in restrictions. Very few people will be able to take that extra time off. Then there will be the worry of having to isolate when they return to the country they live in. For the hassle involved it’s not worth it. And nobody wants to bring Covid-19 back to parents or grandparents.”
WHERE TO STAY?
Pembroke Hall, Dublin 4
Smart, four-storey Georgian home has 12 en suite guest bedrooms, all with lofty period ceilings, sash windows and modern Irish accents like Aran knit throws and Voya seaweed toiletries. There are no cooking facilities but the rooms have coffee facilities and a fridge and there is an ice machine in the lobby. Herbert Park and the canal towpath are on the doorstep. €79 per night on weekdays and €99 per night at weekends. pembroke–hall.ie
Burlington Road, Dublin 4
A two-bed unit in a coach house in leafy Ballsbridge costs from €895 per week, while a three-bed unit costs €995 per week. The price includes all utilities, high-speed wifi, smart TV and remote linen drops. You can also request a pre-arrival grocery delivery, and a desk and office chair can be supplied if needed. The big open space of Sandymount Strand is a short walk along the Dodder. citybreakapartments.com
Christchurch, Dublin 8
There are several Staycity aparthotels in the capital. In Dublin 8, within bell-ringing distance of both Christ Church and St Patrick’s Cathedrals, an apartment that can sleep up to five people, and comes with a fully equipped kitchen, costs €170 per night. A couple or solo traveller could check into a studio at a sister establishment, Staycity Dublin Castle, for about €82 per night. There is free wifi in all premises. Staycity.com
Docklands, Dublin 2
A three-bed penthouse at Hanover Dock has access to south-facing terraces from all its rooms. Its floor-to-ceiling windows frame views of the Dublin Mountains and the city centre is literally on your doorstep. It costs €4,500 per month, which is the shortest letting period available. owenreilly.ie
Glenageary, Co Dublin
Alderley, on Adelaide Road, is a smart five-bed with both period charm and modern comforts. There’s a fine kitchen-cum-familyroom, a study with sea views, and a cinema room at the top of the house with a bar area. Three of the bedrooms are en suite. Its concierge service includes pick-up from the airport and shopping delivered for your arrival. It costs €4,950 per week. Fivestar.ie
Leixlip, Co Kildare On the shores of the river Liffey, and lying near Dublin’s county line, is Alensgrove Cottages, a series of stone-cut stable buildings, east of Castletown House demense. The accommodation here ranges from maisonettes for two guests, from €85 per night, to a three-bedroom cottage that can sleep up to six, from €155 per night. There is wifi and an additional router can be requested in advance. Alensgrove.ie
Castletownsend, west Cork
Situated on the most westerly tip of the Drishane estate, in Castletownsend, which was once home to Irish RM author Edith Somerville, Drishane Beach Cottage offers bracing sea air, a shingle beach where you can swim and high-speed broadband. Groceries can be delivered by Fields in Skibbereen. A week will cost from €780. uniqueirishhomes.ie