Thousands of Northern Ireland Gaelic football fans are forking out over the odds this weekend as hotels in Dublin hike their prices for the All Ireland Quarter Finals.
The tournament, which will be held at Croke Park in Drumcondra — a 15-minute walk from the city centre — will see both Derry and Armagh play in two separate quarter final matches today and Sunday, respectively.
There will also be two other games played over the weekend — Dublin v Cork and Kerry v Mayo which is pushing up demand for Dublin hotel stock.
A search shows that some of the city’s four-star properties have ramped up their nightly rates with some of the remaining available accommodation in that genre costing on average £600 for the two nights.
For some, the rate is too high to justify.
Limavady man Chris McCann is now working in London and decided to fly over for the game on Saturday.
He has been a GAA fan all his life and travelled home for the Ulster final.
He said: “We’re flying in and out in the one day because we looked at hotel prices and decided it was too expensive to stay over.
“We’re really looking forward to the game the buzz is back in Derry football for the first time in a long time.
“We haven’t been involved in a big Championship game in Croke since the All-Ireland quarter final in 2007 so there was no way we were going miss it.
“Initially Bronagh and I were looking at staying over and making a weekend of it but the prices of the hotels in Dublin were so expensive that we decided in the end to fly in on the morning of the game and fly back to London on the same evening.
“It would have been nice to stay over and enjoy a bit of craic in Dublin on the Saturday night, but we really just couldn’t justify the expense of doing that.”
Danielle Wilson, who is a member of St Mary’s Ardmore GAC, said she is having to travel down and up as the cheapest hotel she could find to stay in with her husband and two kids was £550.
She said a few others from the club investigated booking hotels but just couldn’t afford it.
Danielle said the family are all excited ahead of the crunch match. She is hopeful of a victory but “didn’t want to jinx anything”.
Another passionate Derry GAA man who didn’t want to be named said he had agreed a price of 269 Euros for one night online but when he arrived at the hotel, they tried to charge him 495 Euros.
A search shows that The Croke Park Hotel, the closest venue to the stadium, will set fans back around £640 for the two nights in a twin double bedroom.
Fast forward to the same days from August 20-22 and guests save around £100 on the same room there.
Meanwhile in other European capitals, similar rated hotels are proving more affordable than match day rates in Dublin.
In Madrid, a two-night stay at the ME Madrid by Melia costs £463 on Expedia, for the same dates.
A night in Berlin’s 4.5 star rated Pestana Berlin Tiergarten costs £332 for the same days.
Some fans have taken to social media to air their frustration at the hikes. For some, returning home on the same night is not an option.
One Twitter user searching for a stay at Croke Park Hotel for last night and tonight faced even heftier prices. She said: “I’ve stayed in the @crokeparkhotel many times & I have no complaints about the place at all. But €918 for one person for 2 nights this weekend in a deluxe double room without breakfast for All Ireland Quarter final weekend is absolutely crazy. #RipOffIreland #GAA”
The Irish Hotel Federation said: “Hotels across Dublin are experiencing exceptional levels of advance bookings this weekend and as a result, most rooms have already been sold at this stage. The vast majority of these rooms have been contracted and previously booked well in advance, at rates significantly below the last available rates. There is still limited supply remaining and we encourage consumers to shop around and consider contacting hotels directly to find the best rates to suit their needs.”
Last month, Belfast Telegraph’s sister publication in Dublin, The Irish Independent, reported that hotel prices in Dublin were growing faster than the rate of inflation, infuriating government representatives following millions of Euros worth of support measures for the industry, including a VAT cut which amounted to 250m Euro (£215m).
It said overall, the Central Statistics Office shows Irish hotel prices have increased by up to 17pc over the last three years – double the rate of inflation during that time.
“Dublin hotel prices balloon out of control every time there is a concert,” said Fine Gael junior minister Patrick O’Donovan. “We can’t have that, because we are investing on behalf of the people of Ireland through a reduction in VAT. So this is a two-way street.”
His main conclusion was that Dublin establishments often charge way above what you would expect to spend in other European capitals.
Inflation rates, supply and demand, a hospitality staffing crisis and the cost-of-living crisis have been attributed to the hike in rates.