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  • Writer's pictureGregory Besterman

5 Tips for an Unforgettable Self-Catering Holiday With The Family

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

We happen to know a thing or two about creating the most memorable self-catering holidays, whether the entire extended family are descending at once, or you’re just taking a well-deserved break with your very nearest and dearest.

Of course, call us biased, but our number one tip is to find the perfect – somewhere you can get the very most out of your stay, from beginning to end. When you’re looking to unwind, relax, and immerse yourself in the vacation without feeling like it’s just an extension of life as normal, then opting for luxury self catering makes all the difference. The right house will give you the best of both worlds – a home-base with all the necessities, but also enough indulgences and frills to keep your vacation…well…like a vacation.

Here are a few more of our top tips for getting the very most out of your self-catering break.

Remember that not every moment has to be once-in-a-lifetime

Some of the best and most enjoyable parts of a family vacation are the moments between – the lulls, rests, breaks, downtime that nestles itself securely between one unforgettable memory and another.

When planning a vacation, it’s easy to look at all that time in front of you and want to make the most of every spare moment, filling it with plans until the entire stretch of time is mapped out. Don’t get us wrong – it’s a great way to approach your vacation time, particularly when you’re staying somewhere like West Cork where there’s no shortage of things to do in the area.

But Gortadrohid is a house to be enjoyed. One of the greatest advantages to staying in a luxury self-catering home rather than a hotel or B&B is the amount of space you have to stretch out and enjoy the humble quirks of domestic life against a cosy, welcoming, and well-appointed backdrop.

Break out a board game, line up a couple of family-favourite movies (along with a bowl of popcorn or plate of brownies whipped up in Gortadrohid’s kitchen), or enjoy a long and lazy afternoon sprawled on the grass in the privacy of the house’s gardens. Stay still long enough and you may just spot a furry friend passing through the wildflower meadows – or hear the splash of a seal just off the strand.

True, photos of those five hours in which you did absolutely nothing at all may not make it onto the wall alongside photos of that unforgettable trip to Inish Beg (although there’s no reason why they shouldn’t). But some of the most special moments in life are destined to be forgotten, so don’t schedule them out of your days in West Cork.

Look up events taking place during your self-catering Holiday

One of the things that makes West Cork such a popular destination for holidaymakers is the peace, space, and tranquillity it has to offer – but don’t let that fool you. West Cork has a busy social calendar, with events running throughout the year that celebrate the very best of Irish culture, from its food to its music, agriculture, art, and literature.

Ahead of your arrival, take a look at upcoming festivals and events. West Cork’s music venues are forever bringing in new, budding acts, while towns like Baltimore and Skibbereen don’t wait long between festivals, whether you want to stock-up at the weekly farmer’s market or immerse yourself at the Chamber Music Festival.

If it’s a quiet week for the local villages, there’s almost bound to be something taking over the streets of Cork. While the journey will take you a little more than 90 minutes by car, there’s enough in the city to keep you busy for the whole day, so don’t overlook it during your time at Gortadrohid.

Make yourself at home

Every room in Gortadrohid has been carefully designed to feel like a home away from home, no matter how many planes, trains, and roads you’ve taken to get here. We want every element – from the family-sized kitchen to the snug living room – to open its arms in welcome and make sure those pangs of homesickness are kept at bay during yours vacation.

Staying in a self-catering home is the best way to experience the country. It’s not just about being here, but about feeling a part of this unique little corner of the world – particularly if, like so many of our guests, you’ve traced family ancestry back to the area.

So, how do you experience it? Start with a trip to a local farmer’s market – or maybe Manning’s Emporium in Ballylickey, Timoleague for some traditional brown pudding, or Durrus for their world-famous cheese. Back in Gortadrohid’s kitchen, try your hand at some traditional, home-cooked dinners to nourish the soul. Buttered eggs, spiced beef, skirts and kidneys, fresh fish or mussels sourced from the bay, or even just a rustic loaf with butter and cheese. This is one of our favourite ways to familiarise yourself with the area and its proud history of fishing, farming, cheesemaking, brewing, and baking.

Dedicate (at least) one day to nature

West Cork is an incredible place to be if you want to encounter another side to life. You’ll see plenty no matter where you are or what you’re doing, but one of the best ways to enjoy it is by simply embracing the peace and taking a backseat as the wildlife of West Cork moves along at its steady, reliable pace.

You don’t need to leave Gortadrohid’s 24 acres to encounter a whole new world. From the wildflower meadow to the shingle strand, the land to the sea to the skies, a simple day of doing nothing at all will bring with it so many new experiences.

Fill a Thermos with hot tea or cocoa, bring a blanket and a pair of binoculars, and make yourself a part of this unique landscape for a couple hours.

Need to make it more interactive for the younger vacationers? Create a wildlife scavenger hunt!

End the Day with a Pop Quiz

Every family vacation has its trivia master – the person in charge of the guidebooks and maps who reliably comes forth with all the interesting facts, dates, and finer points about the locations you visit. Some of us were born to enhance any sightseeing trip with all the information everyone else needs in order for the experience to come to life.

A great way to inject a little more energy into the longer car journeys or end-of-the-day sit-downs is to run a pop quiz on the day’s experiences. If energy’s low after a long day out walking on the shoreline or through an unexpected shower of rain, then some competitive spirits are a great way to raise the tempo – and make the most of being surrounded by so many historic landmarks.




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