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When did hotels stop offering single-occupancy rooms at a reasonable price?

Does it not matter that there are 425,974 of us living alone in the Emerald Isle of a thousand welcomes?

Sharing may be caring, but why do you have to pay through the nose if you want to book your own single space in an Irish hotel? The statistics speak for themselves, with the numbers of single people aged 15 years or more increasing from 41 per cent in Census 2016 to 43 per cent in 2022.

Doesn’t it matter also that there are 425,974 of us living alone in the Emerald Isle of a thousand welcomes?

Begorrah and bedad, it seems it is time to couple up, swipe right on Tinder, embrace a marriage of convenience, identify a best friend who doesn’t snore if we plan an overnight away without applying for a bank loan.

Once again the insidious culture of how society marginalises certain cohorts shows its ugly head?


Indeed, The Irish Times columnist Kathy Sheridan recently highlighted a different dimension of this pesky problem after the recent publication of an ESRI report which noted that “nearly nine in 10 over-65s live in ‘under-occupied’ housing”.

Since I’m one of those societal pariahs I wonder where these quantitative measurers of the make-up of our domiciles expect me to house my adult children and two mini-munchkin grandchildren when they visit? In a large plant pot or a rabbit hutch, perhaps?

Sheridan is so correct to argue that “the annual finger-pointing at ‘empty nesters’ and single, widowed or divorced/separated occupants [of homes] for wilfully remaining in a relatively modest family home is irritating”.

Well, I am now in turn pointing the finger at the shortsighted myopia of our tourism sector and its neglectful facilitation of single people.

All I wanted to do was to stay overnight in Galway city, our former capital of culture, enjoy one of its annual literary festivals, sit on Quay Street and drink coffee, watch American tourists go google-eyed over the trad busker playing the fiddle beside the Galway Girl sculpture, browse the books in Charlie Byrne’s, eat tapas and drink wine in Cafe Bodega.

I’m not sure what lulled me into a false sense that singledom and solo-travelling had become cool, an acceptable demographic and lifestyle trend.

Why did I assume that my only option for a single-occupancy hotel room was to effectively pay for two people? When exactly did hotels stop offering single-occupancy rooms at a reasonable price?

I think I was lulled into a false sense of security earlier this year when I discovered a hotel right in Dublin city centre which caters for people who want to book a single room. Sadly from my casual research it seems to be an outlier so far. My City Pod in the Iveagh Garden Hotel was just heaven. Hats off to “small and funky” and to the designer who really has “the modern solo-traveller in mind”.

I saw a survey that reported that solo bookings for Irish hotels have been rising by a third year-on-year and that more than half of these intrepid loners are women. This growing market is not reflected in the breakdown of pricing, however. Just go on to any of the online booking sites and enter “one person” per room. It doesn’t make a damned bit of difference – there is still no reduction to the rate.

Living in the tourism hotspot of Westport, I regularly pass solo-travellers on the streets, watch them reading their guide books and Seamus Heaney poetry in our cafes, or sip on a glass of Guinness in Matt Molloy’s.

I also know lots of Irish women and men, young and old, who enjoy travelling alone both at home and abroad. It doesn’t mean we don’t have families or friends. Indeed, we sometimes go on holidays with them but still want to have our own rooms. Why hasn’t the hospitality industry copped on that it needs to cater for our cohort? Since it is primarily driven by optimising revenue receipts, start thinking outside the box, create some smaller rooms in your mazes of corridors. We don’t need penthouse suites but we are really sick of being penalised.

After all you usually get your own cell in a convent or a jail.