Sleeping At The Airport

Have a brew at the Brú

For a sociable stay in Cork you can’t go past the Brú Bar Hostel. It’s a haven for the budget backpacker, young of heart and liver, who likes to party.

Brú Bar - Outside

The hostel owners, Adrian McGarry and Kiwi brothers Andrew and Hamish McRae, have used their hospitality and micro-brewing experience to create a hostel and bar that offers a lively atmosphere, but doesn’t shirk on comfort or the quality of a pint.

Handy location

The Brú Bar is on MacCurtain Street, only two minutes from the bus station and five minutes from the train station by foot. Cross the river and you are in the centre of Cork, but there’s plenty to be found right at the hostel’s doorstep. MacCurtain Street is home to some excellent bars, restaurants, cafes and take-aways. Check what discounts are available for hostel guests.


Clean and comfortable

The hostel offers mainly 6-bed and 4-bed dorms, but there are also 5 private doubles with a single overhead bunk if you want to take the cosy threesome option. Beds are comfy and the rooms are clean and practical, if not exactly spacious. There was no noise from the bar downstairs to challenge the sleep in my third-floor room; although the snuffling, sneezing woman on the bunk below was a different matter – I’d have put a curse on her nostrils but it was clear that somebody already had.


The big plus of the sleeping quarters is that all the rooms have ensuite bathrooms. Clean, new bathrooms at that where stepping barefoot into the shower won’t bring the attack of tinea anxiety so horribly common to hostel stays.

The kitchen is well organised and functional and there’s a small common area where you can use the internet or wireless. For an 85 bed hostel, there’s not a lot of communal space, but with the bar below you’re not going to want to hang around upstairs anyway.

Happy drinking

The Bar

This is where the Brú Bar really comes into its own. Think wood, stone and dim lighting with modern renovations complimenting old style charm. Three screens for the major sporting fixtures facilitate that bizarre patriotism that comes from being far from home plus there’s a pool table for those who like their sport a little bit more active.

The owners take their beers seriously and there are local brews on tap such as tasty White Gypsy Beer or the bitter Howling Gale Ale, as well as the more famed local stouts. There’s also a good selection of wines and cocktails available. No sense of alcohol deprivation here.

Most nights during summer, you can catch live music with local rock bands, trad sessions, singer/songwriter evenings or battles of the bands. DJs will spin you through the Friday nights of winter and there are events organised for homesick travellers who feel the need to play 2-up on ANZAC Day or dress up for a themed celebration of their national day. It’s all free entry and a cosy venue, so tough work not to meet people.

Night owls will be in their element as the Brú Bar keeps up the Irish tradition of lock-ins. The drinking hours of Ireland are not famed for their liberality but this is not a nation overwhelmed by respect for legislators. So, although front doors close at the regulated hour, you can keep getting served until you’re ready for bed. Quite dangerous, but fun.

The Kitchen

Stag and hen parties are encouraged. This is obviously a plus for the beasts or poultry involved and can provide some entertainment for fellow patrons, but pack mentality combined with heavy drinking and matching silly costumes is not a delight for everyone.

The morning after

A very basic breakfast of cornflakes, toast and hideous instant coffee comes with the price of your bed. It’s a help-yourself style in the kitchen so budget travellers won’t starve, but they won’t be rubbing their bellies in gleeful satisfaction. Downstairs in the bar, though, you can buy a good cup of coffee and flick through a free newspaper before venturing into the great outdoors. Weekends see cheap, tasty breakfast rolls being barbecued outside to provide that grease hit so desired by the hungover.

Perils of technology

Common Room

A downside to the hostel is the security cards for the doors. I had problems most times I tried to get to my room. As there were three doors to get through and plenty of stairs in between, this was not a joy.

And whilst push button showers may be a fabulous tool for conserving water and energy, they are annoying to use. You can’t adjust the temperature and the water always runs out just when the shampoo hits your eyes. Irish weather does make it hard to get het up about water rationing.

Great value

The Kitchen

At the cheaper end of hostels in Cork, the Brú Bar is a bargain. With free internet, Wi-Fi, luggage storage and breakfast, you are not getting any hidden extras. Valuables can be stored for free in a safe at reception as there is no lock on the storage drawers beneath the beds. With token price towel hire and a cheap laundry service you can stay hygienic. You’re in a good location that makes getting about by foot the best option night and day and the friendly staff can point you in the right direction for the many fabulous treats that Cork has to offer.

You’ll need to book in advance for peak season, festivals and weekends as this is an understandably popular hostel. Talk to the owners if you want to negotiate cheaper rates for longer-term stays.