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Luxury meets the great outdoors when glamping in Laois
Choose from one of the different themed glamping cabins at Glamping Under The Stars in Laois.
Aisling KeenanAisling Keenan is a freelance journalist specialising in travel, lifestyle and beauty writing. A former magazine editor, she also produces and hosts a podcast and creates Patreon content.
Glamping is where the fun and adventure of a camping trip meets the luxury of a hotel stay, as makeup artist and entrepreneur Aideen Kate discovered on her escape to the great outdoors in County Laois.

If an outdoor adventure with the facilities and comforts of a luxury hotel sounds like your idea of a dream holiday, glamping could be for you.

Under the stars

Where glamping sites in Ireland are concerned, you can’t go far wrong with a trip to Laois. When Aideen Kate arrived for her weekend stay at the family-run glampsite Glamping Under The Stars in Portlaoise, she was delighted to find her glamping pod decked out with a mini front garden and crackling campfire.

“My boyfriend David and I drove down the hour from Dublin and when we got there, we met the owner Kyra. There are all these little hobbit houses spread out across a huge field, they’re basically like little hotel rooms with ensuites in them,” says Aideen.

A glamping room at Glamping Under The Stars with a blue accent wall and white trim.
Each cabin at Glamping Under The Stars is decorated to a different theme – Aideen stayed in the Stargazer's House.

“They’re only newly built and so lovely," she says.

The pair kicked off their weekend of adventure and relaxation with a trip to the local Ballykilcavan Brewery, which has been family-run since 1639.

“We met the owner David and he brought us on this amazing tour. It’s on his family’s farm, acres and acres of land. I’m not a big beer drinker myself, but I learned so much – we saw all the machines and how it’s made and had a little tasting at the end,” Aideen recalls.

A picture of the inside of the Ballykilcavan Brewing Company with three large vats on the left and a blue door in the centre.
The pair enjoyed a tour of Ballykilcavan Brewing Company.

“That evening, we settled into our glamping room and got ready for dinner at Mac’s Abbeyleix. The food was great, I had prawn Pil Pil – if that’s on a menu I am getting it – then had a gorge steak and chips and veg. I was so stuffed I couldn’t have dessert!” she says.

“We had an early night – we were wrecked – and the next morning we went to the kitchen for our breakfast. The stainless steel chef’s kitchen had everything we needed. Plates, chopping boards, all the bits. We brought breakfast ingredients and cooked our own breakfast. Well, David cooked breakfast, I didn’t really!” she jokes.

Into the wild

Aideen and David headed for an immersive foraging experience with Wild Food Mary to reconnect with nature and learn about local ingredients.

“Foraging is not something I would’ve ever thought to do, so I was a bit nervous as to how it was going to go. But we met Mary and straight away she was so lovely. She’s a proper Irish Mammy, and her house was amazing. We sat at her island in her kitchen and she gave us cake! She picks from her garden and makes her food from it – she was making elderflower cordial when we were there, it was unreal,” Aideen says.

“I’m a real foodie and so is David, so it was great. We walked around her garden for an hour or two and she was just picking things out of the ground and telling us their names and how to use them. We picked raspberries and strawberries, too. It was so lovely,” Aideen recalls.

Aideen visited the renowned Stradbally Fayre café and food hall after foraging and enjoyed a light lunch before continuing on with her packed schedule of activities. 

“We were so full after foraging all day we didn’t have room for much more!” she jokes.

Fires, food and fun

Exploring more of the surrounding area was a priority for Aideen, so she headed for a brisk one-hour hike through the Slieve Bloom Mountains.

A girl climbing on top of a large rock with an overcast sky behind her.
Overcast weather didn't stop Aideen and her boyfriend hiking the Slieve Bloom Mountains.

“The hike we chose was very manageable, I don’t think I could’ve done a four-hour one, but there’s something for everyone,” she says.

Back at the glamping area, the pair prepared their own dinner and made the most of the evening outdoors.

“In front of each of the glamping pods there’s a garden and a fire and table and chairs so you can sit out and make s’mores and just enjoy being outside,” she says.

A chimenea with a fire burning in it.
Each cabin has its own outdoor fire for the true glamping experience.

Cosy and calming

Aideen and David headed out the next morning on an invigorating walk to the ruins of the Rock of Dunamase, overlooking the valley of the O’Moores in Portlaoise.

A far away shot of the Rock of Dunamase in Laois.
The Rock of Dunamase in County Laois.

“It was overcast when we visited, but the views were still great, and I hear on a sunny day they can be amazing,” she says.

Horsing around

As someone who says she will “give anything a go,” Aideen hopped on horseback for a riding trail through the Laois hills with Fossey Mountain Springs Ranch.

“This was by far my favourite activity. The whole thing is done up Western style, like an American ranch. They had the swinging western doors, American flags – it felt like I was in the States, not in Laois at all!” says Aideen.

Woman with a cowboy hat on standing beside a brown and white horse.
Aideen enjoyed some time horseback riding at Fossey Mountain Springs Ranch.

“They really, really looked after their horses, they were so passionate about them, just by chatting to the people that owned it I felt safe – they knew exactly which horses would suit us based on their auras and how calm they were,” she says.

“We had someone guiding the horses with us, and we did a trail. It felt really safe, we learned so much about the horses,” says Aideen.

Aideen says she was pleasantly surprised by the array of activities to do around Laois, and says she hopes to return to the glamping pods, maybe next time with her friends.

“I hadn’t a clue how much there was to do in Laois. I think everyone knows Laois for Electric Picnic, but there’s so much more to do,” she says.

“I think the glamping experience would be great with a big group. I would love to go back there with a group of girls for a weekend, that would be so much fun."

A woman wearing black standing in front of the ruins at the Rock of Dunamase in Laois.
Aideen's glamping experience was both adventurous and relaxing.
Go glamping in Ireland

Explore our guide to the best glamping in Ireland for a luxurious way to connect with the great outdoors.

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