Personally, I can’t bear the thought of sharing a 10-bed dorm room or bathroom with strangers. I’ve done the whole hostel thing, and have found it’s not for me. But if YOU are ok with it, then by all means book a shared room, because there are not much more affordable options than that. If you prefer more of your own space, however, then there are a couple other options. You can start by taking this quiz I created to find out which travel accommodation works best for you:
First option, of course, is booking a hotel room. This is still my preferred way to ‘stay,’ but I’m not booking 5-star boutique hotels directly from their website. My go-to resource is Hotwire, where you can search for discounted hotel rooms based on star rating and amenities in certain areas. The catch is you’ll be booking blind. What I mean by this is, you won’t know the exact hotel you’re staying at until you’ve booked and paid in full. Although it may sound scary, if you’re looking to save on accommodation, while maintaining a level of comfort, then this is the way to go.
Another option is hotels.com , where you can see the exact room you’ll be getting, along with some discount options. However, I’ve used Hotwire for many of my trips, from staying in a 5-star hotel right in Times Square, New York City, to a 3 star (but 95% recommended) hotel in Barcelona. And every time it has worked out great. The first thing to note, however, is I find Hotwire works best in larger cities, where there are many neighbourhoods and areas you can choose from. For smaller cities, there may not be many options, the area you can choose to stay in will be way larger (hence a greater unknown of where you’ll end up), so hotels.com might be the better route.
Additionally, Hotwire can have some wicked deals if you book your hotel and flight together. Many times you can get a 4 or 5 star hotel for free! Even better is if you book this way, you won’t be booking the hotel blind, and will be able to pick the exact room you’d like within a particular hotel.
Your second option for affordable stays is booking a private room or an entire apartment/house through Airbnb. You may not get all the amenities a hotel has to offer (a girl loves her hotel toiletries, I know), but there are tons of really amazing options all over the world. Plus, you get to live like a local, and really immerse yourself in the culture and what the place has to offer. I’ve found some STUNNING places in Paris, Florence, and London where hotels are notoriously expensive and over-touristy.
Best Booking Sites:
HOTWIRE – Discounted rooms at every price range & rating.
AIRBNB – Charming & unique options to stay in local style.
BOOKING – Endless stay options, including bed and breakfasts.
HOTELS – Great database of hotels, sometimes on sale, and you’ll know exactly what you’re getting.
My Favourite Way to Stay:
Having said all of this, my absolute favourite way to stay in a city is splitting my time between a hotel and an apartment. If you’re staying a week, for example, living in an apartment can get old after a few days once your towels are dirty, and the place needs to be cleaned. After 3-4 days I like to switch over to a hotel (or vice-versa). That way, I get the experience of living briefly (and cheaply) like a local, as well as having all the luxuries that a hotel has to offer. Best of both worlds!
Before booking any hotel through a third-party booking system (i.e. booking.com, hotels.com), try contacting that particular hotel directly first. These third-party companies typically take a 15% commission on all bookings made through them, so often the hotel itself would offer you the same deal you’ve found minus the commission fee. Even cheaper!