Using miles to experience an authentic St. Patrick's Day in Ireland
Summer Hull writes the weekly "Get to the Points" column for CreditCards.com
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A popular travel bucket list item is to experience an authentic St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Ireland, so let’s look at how to do that for less.
Know that a more genuine St. Patrick’s Day celebration is actually much quieter and more centered around church and family happenings than the big international parades, packed bars and jolly green leprechauns you see in Dublin today.
If you want something more akin to the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations of years gone by, heading somewhere outside of the center of Dublin may be a good idea. Regardless of where and how in Ireland you want to celebrate March 17, your miles and points can make it happen.
Fly Aer Lingus to Dublin from just 20,000 points
Aer Lingus is an Ireland-based airline that flies nonstop to Dublin from U.S. cities such as Boston, Chicago, New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
Best of all, flying Aer Lingus can be a very good deal on points, especially if you book through its partner British Airways, using Avios points (see “Maximize rewards mile redemption through partner airlines”). Using the British Airways distance-based chart, an economy ticket from Boston, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., would cost you 20,000 Avios each way in economy or 60,000 in business class.
From Florida and California cities, it will cost 25,000 Avios in economy and 75,000 points in business class each way. You can book directly with Aer Lingus for the same number of points, but the fees will be higher than going through British Airways.
You can earn British Airways Avios points with the British Airways Visa Signature card or transfer them to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio from Chase Ultimate Rewards or from American Express Membership Rewards.
Unfortunately, you do have to pick up the phone and call the British Airways Executive Club to book these award flights on Aer Lingus (800-452-1201). You may want to pour yourself a Guinness before you make the call as hold times can take a little while unless a little bit of Irish luck is on your side.
Avoid high St. Patrick’s Day hotel rates
In 2017, more than 100,000 visitors descended upon Dublin to take in St. Patrick’s festivities, so as you can guess, hotel availability can be tight and paid rates expensive.
However, hotel award rates don’t jump just because paid rates increase, and there are some Dublin hotels that still have March 17 award availability this year.
For example, hotels still showing St. Patrick’s Day availability include the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel for 44,000 Club Carlson points per night and the Westin Dublin for 12,000 Starwood points per night, though with a four-night minimum stay.
If you are planning in advance for next year or looking for availability surrounding the big day itself, you can stay at the refurbished Conrad Dublin for 60,000 Hilton Honors points per night, the Intercontinental Dublin for 50,000 IHG points per night or the Radisson Blu Royal Dublin for 70,000 Club Carlson points per night.
We stayed in a two-story loft with a winding staircase at the Westin Dublin on a previous trip and found it to be a very charming hotel from the 1800s located very close to Trinity College. It was within walking distance to almost everywhere you may want to go in Dublin without being in too crazy of a location when it comes time to turn out the lights and go to sleep.
Explore outside of Dublin
Whether you make the trip to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day or any of the other time of the year, get an authentic Irish experience about 30 minutes outside Dublin at Johnnie Fox’s. This is one of Ireland’s oldest pubs from the 1700s that serves not only a tall drink, but fantastic Irish food with live entertainment.
While exploring a bit south of Dublin’s city limits, I also highly recommend spending a day exploring the 47 acres of green gardens, whimsical towers and waterfalls at the Powerscourt Estates. When you are done exploring, instead of heading back to Dublin, you can stay the night at the Powerscourt Hotel for just 35,000 Marriott Rewards points.
No matter whether you are after a bustling and lively St. Patrick’s Day celebration with hundreds of thousands of other revelers in Dublin or a somewhat smaller celebration in another part of Ireland, your points can make this Irish travel dream a reality.
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