When I first visited Ireland I knew it would be a country I’d want to return to and explore more. I told my husband how beautiful it was and that we’d have to go back soon. Jokingly we both agreed that if I could find a great deal using points to keep the trip “free” we would do it. Fast forward a few weeks later and I found airfare on our Chase Bank portal flying on United Airlines for 32K points round trip per person. (That equates to about $400 roughly when paying cash). I jumped on the deal and booked us flights to Dublin from our home airport of Salt Lake City.
The fun part for me of any trip is to make an itinerary and find hotels and things to do. At the time of booking we had nearly 10 months to wait until we were actually on the trip, so I had plenty of time to play around. After doing some research I also booked us flights on Ryanair to Scotland to do some exploring over there for about $30 per person each way. (The thing to know about Ryanair is that it is a low cost carrier or “budget” airline so you need to read the details before getting too excited about them.) After getting a rough idea of where we would be each day I went to work finding hotels and booking rental cars.Free E-Book “Renting a car in Europe”
Typically we pay for our cars through Auto Europe because they are able to get the cheapest deal and negotiate to include the CDW for insurance- which can be astronomical and often 3x the rental cost in places like Ireland. I recommend at least using their search tool as shown above to help you compare costs between some of the different search engines.
For hotels on this trip I’ll explain in detail how we went about booking each with various points and a quick review .
Our first stop was Glasgow, and we stayed at the Carlton George Hotel just off of Buchanan Street. It was a lovely hotel in an superb location- from the breakfast room in the executive lounge, to the Windows restaurant with amazing views and the hotel room itself. We booked this using chase ultimate rewards points at only 9K for the night. This included our upgrade to the club floors that included the executive lounge and it was totally worth it! The rooms have this cute mini bar (pictured below) as well as a tasty collection of local snacks, drinks and tea kettle. The only downside would be onsite parking if you have a car as the road out in front is very busy and there is limited parking except for lots nearby. I would highly recommend this place, and please if you stay here enjoy their sea kelp toiletries because they smell fantastic!
After Glasgow we drove through the countryside through the Trossachs and past Loch Ness to reach Inverness. We stayed in a quaint bed and breakfast called The Gatehouse and they have some of the best coffee to date. So if any of my Scotland friends are reading this please send Morrison’s French Roast coffee! This hotel stay was midweek so the rates were lower at only 7K per night Chase ultimate rewards points. This location is ideal if you want a great breakfast with a wonderful B&B experience. Several of the rooms even have their own en-suites.
The Caledonian Waldorf Astoria in Edinburgh was a dream! For this we had to get creative and combine points with a free night certificate you can get with holding one of AMEXs hilton credit cards (message me if you have more questions on that). For Thursday night it was 50k Hilton points-which really isn’t that many for comparison. Friday night we used our free night certificate and that took care of the room. Because of our Gold Status we were upgraded to a castle view room that was absolutely spectacular! We could see the sunsets behind Calton Hill and see Edinburgh castle while we ate dinner at the small table in our room. This hotel used to be an old railway station so the history is fascinating as well as the architecture. It’s older and has a lot of charm and small details that make it memorable. For all you spa gurus they also have a pool and full service Guerlain Spa with specialized treatments.
Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort is a gem of Northern Ireland. For this one we splurged on our way night stay at a cool 20K points. It is so worth it though! Their grounds are a spa and sauna heaven that the guests can use throughout their stay. Stay tuned as I will be posting a write up dedicated to our time there.
Londonderry is known as “the walled city” because of it’s old city walls protecting from invaders in Irelands tumultuous past. They are still standing and are now a great place to go for a walk and admire views of the city and pick up it’s history. We stayed at the Shipquay hotel which offers a full service breakfast and has the best bar downstairs to watch rugby/football, etc. This cost only 10K chase points for the night and was in the best location. We could walk to the Peace Bridge and all over towns in a matter of minutes. Parking is off site but it isn’t very far at all.
Dublin is a fun city to visit and explore with all of it’s shops, restaurants and nightlife. The history is everywhere and you can’t beat just wandering the medieval streets to see what you can find. The River Liffey runs through Dublin and along it you can find the Temple Bar area and O’Connell street which are both great places to stay for easy transportation and sight seeing by foot. The Arlington Hotel on Bachelor’s walk is a wonderful simple hotel that has a bar and a dinner show called Celtic Nights. I haven’t personally seen it but many of the folks we talked to said it’s something even the locals come to see. They have a breakfast buffet for an additional cost but you can get it included in the rate for a great deal. We paid 11k points a night for this city center location and had a blast walking around Dublin from this base.
I’m so happy to share with you how affordable a trip to Europe can be on points and how much fun you can have for cheap using your points and miles. This is a rough idea of what you can replicate if you have more questions, as always please feel free to message me and I can help you with your next trip. For now enjoy the broad overview of our trip and I can’t wait to share more stories from it with you.