Hey budget travelers, where do you like to sleep?

Me?  I prefer a cheap, centrally located, private room.  These days—thank you world wide web—finding a cheap sleep is quite straightforward if you know what you want.

Most people assume that since I’m a budget traveler I use hostels.  Hostels are cheap and often centrally located, but I don’t usually stay in them due to the lack of privacy.  Sure, they do sometimes have private rooms, but for the price for two of us it’s just as cheap, or even less expensive, to stay in a modest B&B or budget hotel.  Not that I’m anti-hostel: if you dig a party scene and want to meet like-minded travelers, hostels are super (though they can be kind of grubby.)  Couchsurfing is popular with a certain sort of budget traveler and obviously has major advantages: you get to know locals and it’s free.  $0.00 is truly my favorite price, though regrettably insomnia and need for privacy rules out this particular sleep scenario.  Renting empty dorms during the summer and sleeping a night or two in a monastery are also viable options.

Most of the time it comes down to this: a hotel, a B&B, or an apartment.  Let me break down the advantages and disadvantages for you.

HOTELS

Pro:

*Long reception desk hours: hotels keep their desks staffed most of the day (larger hotels for 24 hours) so if you’re not certain of your arrival time, you can still count on a person being there to let you in.  If you have a question or need directions, there’s someone on site to help you right away.

*Hotel breakfasts: while I wouldn’t pay extra for a hotel breakfast, when it’s included in the price HOB and I take full advantage.  Some more business-oriented hotels have spectacular hot breakfast buffets which are so satisfying on those days we otherwise subsist on cold picnics.

*Deals: traveling off season I’ve often lucked into some great deals, such as 4 star hotels for under €40 a night for a double.  I don’t need a fancy place, but if it’s a deal and centrally located why not?  Plus I can steal all the shower caps and mini sewing kits.

*Predictability: when you travel intensely and frequently change locations, having a predictable room (where you know the layout, how to control the room temperature, and have a WiFi password) is comforting and efficient.

Con:

*Sneaky fees: you need to be alert with hotels because some of them will nail you with sneaky fees.   Make sure you understand in advance if there’s a fee for WiFi or early check-in, and stay away from breakfast unless it’s included in the price.  (And I don’t need to warn you to never, ever touch the mini bar, do I?

*Availability: if you stay in off-the-beaten-path places, there are often just no hotels.  Or if there are hotels, they are closed during the low tourist season.  During high-season, prices are inflated and the more affordable rooms sell out early.

B&BS AND GUEST HOUSES

Pro:

*Immersion in local culture: staying in a bed & breakfast or a guest house is the best way to make a personal connection to a local culture.  You may actually be staying with a family and will have an up close experience with their lifestyle, children and pets.

*Friendly and personalized guidance: I always think about what a hard job it is to run a B&B—do these people ever get a day off?  Inn keepers must be doing it for love, and it shows.  We’ve had people pick us up from the bus station, loan us books, buy local food treats for us to sample, and go to great lengths to be sure our time spent in their town is the best it can be.

*Price: guest houses are almost always the cheapest option for a double room.

Con:

*Privacy: did I mention I’m a privacy freak?  The personal experience of staying in a B&B or guest house makes me feel under constant scrutiny.  It’s like being a guest in someone home where I don’t want to use up their toilet paper or to be a nuisance—I don’t ever feel entirely relaxed, and after hectic days of travel I’m pretty desperate for relaxation time.

*Breakfast: I love breakfast, but breakfast at a B&B is a pain in my sizable behind.  Since it’s usually just a couple people running a B&B, they understandably serve breakfast on a set schedule, later in the morning than we like to eat.  As we are early risers and often catching a morning bus or train, waiting around for breakfast time just isn’t practical.  And for every delicious home-cooked breakfast we’ve devoured, we’ve been served twice as many consisting of shrink-wrapped supermarket pastries, boxed juice and sub-par coffee.

*Checking in: arranging a check-in time at a B&B can be a hassle, and even the most organized traveler can’t control for transportation delays.  Want to feel like a jerk?  Keep a nice couple waiting to let you into a room while your train creeps along three hours overdue.

*Rules: guest house and B&Bs come with rules, like “no eating in the room” and “no laundry allowed”.  While generally my life of crime is limited to the occasional act of jay walking, rules like these force me into a dark underworld.  Any day now a famous crime writer is going to write a thriller about how I resorted to washing my underpants in the shower, and how I stealthily hid empty yogurt containers and banana peels beneath more innocent appearing trash.

*Heating: remember those times we slept in rooms without heat in the dead of winter?

APARTMENTS

Pro:

*You can cook: sure, I live to picnic but oh man do I ever start craving hot food when I’m on the road.  I don’t really have time to do proper cooking while traveling, but even just something simple like pasta with sauce and cheese is pretty much the best thing ever after days of living out of a backpack.  Plus, you can store stuff in the fridge for breakfast.  You’ll save money by not being tempted to go out to a restaurant and you’ll eat healthier to boot.

*Sometimes there’s a laundry machine: I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, MACHINE WASHED SWEET-SMELLING PANTS.

*Privacy: unlike a B&B, I don’t feel the presence of a mother hen-like host hovering nearby, so HOB and I feel free to let rude bodily noises rip, to have a loud argument about an inconsequential matter—in other words, to be the same inelegant slobs we are at home.

Con:

*Check in: here’s an excerpt of an email from the owner of an apartment we are staying in next month: “This is not a hotel. There is no reception or front desk. This is an apartment in a residential building and the owner does not live there. Please, announce your arrival so that we can know when to be there, waiting for you.  I will do my best to help You, but I cannot help You at all if You do not communicate with me.”  Again, this is all understandable, but nonetheless another step in our already complicated travel arrangements.

*You’re on your own: after check-in, you generally won’t see your host again.  So if you have a problem or need directions, help is not easy to come by.

 

To anyone asking my advice, I’d recommend a B&B or guest house as their first choice for budget travel sleeping.  Though just between you and me, I’m always going to have a soft spot for cheap chain hotels and I’ll book them every chance I get.

So back to my original question: budget travelers, where do you like to sleep?

kingkong

King Kong, the dog who came with our guest house in Seville.

wob

In Vidu Izei, the owners of our guest house dressed us in traditional Romanian clothes.

trullofireinterior

In Alberobello, we slept inside a UNESCO-protected Trullo house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

54 comments

  1. I am staying at religious accomodation ( not that I am), I stayed in a Palermo convent a couple of days ago, great location! And at the moment I’m in a religious hotel in Siracuse. Again, great location. They have been fabulous and very economical. I have 4 more to try between here and Rome.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the reply, apollard–are they serving breakfast at the religious accommodations? Do you share a bathroom? Are there lots of rules?

      So jealous you’re in Sicily—I love it there!

      Like

      1. They all vary, some do a breakfast we would recognise, some just do a croissant (brioche) and coffee, some send you down the road with a chit to a local cafe and some don’t at all. I have had my own ensuite in both places so far. As for rules, some have a 10 or 11pm curfew, doesn’t affect me 🙂 I think they don’t like unmarried couples staying together, again doesn’t affect me, I’m solo, and I have seen one sign asking people to dress modestly out of respect, my days of dressing showing a bit of cleavage or leg are long gone! Yes, loving Sicily!!!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. This sounds what would be perfect for me: QUIET!!!

      How do you find and book these?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I went through the website monastery stays but be aware, the booking fee was hefty. I don’t mind too much as all the work was done for me, very easy.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. In the past – and the not so distant past, touring Nicaragua and Honduras, i would settle for a hostel type place – because that was all there was or because the alternative was priced sky high. I cannot say that | like polyester sheets, though the private shower built from plastic roofing sheets was a novelty, but if I wanted to see the place i’d put up with what i could get.
    Otherwise, a hotel. Booking.com does some great offers and the sheer convenience of having a place which will be open at whatever hour I arrive laden with enough luggage to supply a military exercise beats the alternatives. And unlike a B and B I’m not fitting into someone else’s life…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah I love those weird showers where the first person to shower has to take notes for the second person. We stayed at one in Bruges where, if you tried to turn around, your butt would hit the temperature nozzle and boil you up. And with the polyester sheets comes that rubber mattress cover that makes me wake up in a sweat.

      Didn’t we agree you’re going to pack lighter next time? 🙂

      Like

      1. We did indeed! It’s either that or trying to find a fare for a pack mule to accompany me. Madrid Atocha station was my Waterloo….

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Kaylene Chadwell · · Reply

    Great post! B&B’s have been my favorite places to stay in. Typically they have a really laid back environment. And it’s easy to get to know the area better from the family or owners.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kaylene. Do you do airbnb or some other service to find your rooms?

      Like

      1. Kaylene Chadwell · ·

        I haven’t yet, but been looking to use airbnb on my next trip. I’ve just found b&bs on booking.com in the past.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. For cities, I always look for a guesthouse or B&B just a bit outside the center, as long as it’s a short walk or bus or subway ride in. They tend to be quieter and cheaper, and parking is easier if we have a car. One hassle: often it’s hard to change or cancel. Realizing this, I’ve started booking bargain hotel chains online way in advance, and taking the super-cheap non refundable prepaid option. But I wouldn’t do a whole trip without mixing in some places with local charmingness, even if I do sometimes get annoyed with too-attentive hosts or overly talkative strangers at the breakfast table. It’s all part of the adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What’s your preferred cheap hotel chain? I’m a big fan of Ibis Budget.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For some reason my reply landed in with comments. Yes, Ibis in Europe and Premier Inn in theUK!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. great post:) I always prefer to stay at hotel with complimentary breakfast:)

    Lerry
    https://inflateddreams.wordpress.com/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lerry. 🙂 Whenever there’s a complimentary hotel breakfast we eat so much it’s kinda embarrassing…..

      Liked by 1 person

      1. that’s so true 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Very interesting post! Usually when I travel I either look through some booking site for hotels and I also check airbnb, to compare the prices and the location.
    For me privacy is also very important!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I also noticed quite a variation in prices too, depending on what site you check.

      Like

  7. adamleviness · · Reply

    I agree I prefer hostels to all of the other budget options. My girlfriend travels with me, and she doesn’t like the idea of couchsurfing or hostels. Luckily in most places two people sleeping in a guest house is nearly as cheap if not cheaper than a hostel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed, and then you don’t have to be in a room full of snoring strangers…..unless your girlfriend snores? 😉

      Like

  8. I like renting vans that convert into campers. Companies like JUCY or Spaceship have affordable options and you get to travel and sleep for the same price. I don’t mind a hostel but it has to be the right kind of trip for me to enjoy that atmosphere. I’ve never couch surfed and I don’t think I will.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jessica! I’m curious where you take a shower/use the bathroom when you are sleeping in the campervan?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Campgrounds or we just roughed it in the wilderness but never for more than one or two nights. There are a lot of decent public toilets and showers in Australia but I wasn’t traveling long enough to use them.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. One thing on the no penalty cancellations…airbnb – and the other big holiday letting agencies – offer this and it is a real pain to owners as they have to let the booking run until the last minute and if it is cancelled then it is usually too late to find another booking.
    Not so bad for hotels with the chance of passing trade, but for a one man band owner it is a real pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of the innkeepers told me the booking sites also take a sizable fee, so when people book through those sites they lose money.

      Like

      1. Fifteen per cent is what i have seen quoted on a forum for people with B and Bs. People there also say that it is becoming more difficult to advertise other than through this worldwide sites…

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Preferred hotel chains: Ibis Budget in Europe, or garden-variety Ibis. If I’m willing to take my chances and prepay, I’ve found insanely cheap rates. Same goes for Premier Inn in the UK, plus they will actually refund your money if you didn’t get a good night’s sleep. So far, I don’t bother with travel insurance so if I cancel, I lose. It hasn’t happened so far. We have a Medjet policy for medical emergencies and evacuation. Since my husband flies a lot, he has elite airline status and they would do whatever they could to fly us home in case of non-medical
    emergency. Otherwise, I would definitely invest in some kind of travel insurance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Claudia. Premier Inn is a new one to me—I’ll check it out!

      Like

  11. Airbnb has been my favorite, lately. I find hosts are getting better and better about giving you ways to let yourself in so you don’t have to worry so much about when you arrive. Most recently, we stayed in one with a digital code that they reprogrammed for every guest. It was also pretty great because we didn’t have to keep a key on us. There are also some up-and-coming apps like YourWelcome that are trying to streamline the Airbnb checkin process — so I don’t think it’ll be too long before Airbnb feels more like a cheap hotel. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kaitlin. I hadn’t heard about those apps—guess I’ll have to finally get a smart phone (indeed I may be the last human under 80 alive without a cell phone).

      We did have a place with an electronic code once and you’re right, it was quite handy!

      Like

      1. Oh dear. I’m helpless with my smartphone. It’s pretty sad actually; I’m so impressed that you’ve made it without one!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post! We are a family of five and have found that renting an apartment, condo, or small home is often less expensive than paying for 2 hotel rooms. We also save on eating out… breakfast is always in the apartment, light lunch out, home for late afternoon snack/break from sightseeing, then maybe dinner out OR in. The biggest benefit to us is that we feel a little more connected to wherever we are visiting… living like a local, shopping at the local market for food, being in a “neighborhood.” And, of course the privacy, the kids can spread out, and we can all have some space.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you White House Red Door. I’m glad I’m not the only one who loves shopping in local markets. I especially enjoy farmer’s markets.

      That situation you describe (staying in an a condo or apartment and cooking some of your meals) is often described as “self catering”. That cracks me up because I imagine dressing up in a little caterer’s outfit and serving myself dinner….maybe you could have your kids pretend to be your vacation caterers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! The kids could earn their keep! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  13. In larger cities it’s been Hotels and Appartments and in smaller towns it’s usually been B&B.

    We are forever looking for good hotel deals! Often booking at the last minute turns up some surprising deals.

    We have also found that using Tablet gives the option of some really great hotels at really good prices in larger cities – they have good sales and introductory offers for new hotels at never to be repeated prices. Even our budget conscious children have found some amazing deals on Tablet.

    We are about to go away for an extended period and have booked quite a lot through Airbnb.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the tip about Tablet browney237–is that an app or a website? I want to check it out.

      Where are you going on your extended trip?

      Like

      1. It’s a website Tablethotels.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We are off to Italy for 3 months.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Great article, WOB! I’m from Scotland and travel round Europe as much as I can, mostly solo but occasionally with my hubby. Usually stay at an apartment when travelling together but when solo, I like my privacy too, I prefer a central budget hotel or single room at a hostel (agree they can be a bit grubby tho). Can’t be bothered with the all the faffing and fussing of B&Bs, don’t like the mother hen stuff – at all! If you’re ever in UK and can book in advance, have you tried Travelodge hotels? You can get some great prices and they are always clean with comfy beds. There’s also Easyhotels (not as good but very low prices). If you’re ever in UK between June and Sep, which is super high season for hotel prices, try and contact the city’s universities/colleges about student halls of residence. Lots of Irish and UK unis rent out their student rooms at rates at a fraction of hotel prices. Probably this applies in mainland Europe too tho I haven’t managed to organise this yet, think the language barrier’s a big part of that, although I did once stay at a music school in Gdansk, Poland but booked that through booking.com. Just some thoughts – might be of interest to somebody or other………😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the tips ronameikle!

      I haven’t traveled as much as I’d like in the UK, but when I do I’ll certainly look into Travelodge and the student halls. We slept in and EasyHotel in Berlin, which was fantastic and cheap (and hilariously tiny–like the bed took up the entire room).

      Like

  15. I always book through Airbnb unless I have a high maintenance friend travel long along with me! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you tiffehawk. I think you have more patience than me with a high maintenance traveling companion!

      Do you leave reviews after you stay in an Airbnb? I always force myself to leave reviews because I rely on others reviews so much when choosing a place to stay. It’s easy to see which reviews are mine–they’re the ones with all the spelling errors.

      Like

      1. Yes, I always leave reviews. This last trip has me second guessing allowing a high maintenance traveler to tag along next time.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Interesting post! 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Globalresidence–I’m looking for forward to finding some interesting places to sleep in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the very near future! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I stay mostly on hostels when traveling. I believe that as a traveler, you don’t need classy hotels as you only need it for sleeping. haha. Aside from its cheaper, it also gives comfort. Nice post. There are numerous great travel destinations around Asia, you may want to visit Philippines soon. 🙂
    https://tetaventures.wordpress.com/destinations/philippines/trip-to-el-nido/

    Thanks and safe travels!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you tetventures–I’m not a classy lady so I don’t belong in a classy hotel 😉

      I do want to go to the Phillippines. What do you think is the best place there for art and culture?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I suggest you visit the Cordillera Region (Benguet, Sagada and Kalinga Apayao). These provinces was able to preserve its rich culture until today. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  18. My favourite stay is self-catering, (for at least 4 days) which is sort of what Air BnB and VRBO are. And they aren’t always budget. But they suit my favourite travel: to get to know a corner of a country well, shop for local foods and have them for breakfast, a packed lunch or dinner, (which saves a lot of money) and not slogging luggage every day. Your other readers have lots of great tips!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so right on, BuntyMcC. It’s so frustrating to be at a local market gazing longingly at all the local produce wishing I had a way to cook/prepare it, which is why self-catering is so wonderful.

      My readers always give me the best advice. I’m spoiled!

      Like

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