Following on from my last post about how I find cheap flights, I wanted to follow it up with another post all about the steps I take to find the best budget accommodation, and without limiting my options.
I think it does go without saying that if you’re used to luxury, then this post might not be for you. I’ve followed these rules for finding accommodation in the past, and have always stayed in places I’ve found to be brilliant and for great value. Although I want to caveat it by saying if you’re on a budget, occasionally you might have to forego a bigger bedroom or the most central location in your search. However, if you are happy to pick somewhere without a few of those aspects, you can still have the best stay – for a fraction of the price.
Setting Out Your Priorities
When planning a holiday, before looking at anything else, it’s best to join with whoever you’re travelling with – even if you’re going on your own – and set out what is a must and what is a definite no for you when it comes to where you can stay. This can change from holiday to holiday, depending on who you’re going with and where you’re travelling to, but it’s best to set your boundaries before you start looking.
A lot of cheap hotels offer shared bathrooms instead of privates ones, which might be fine for some, but can also is a no for others. A really gorgeous hotel with a pool might be top of your list – but might not be very central in some cities, so is it something you’re willing to prioritise over being closer to the main areas of a city?
They may seem like small things in the overall picture, but they can make or break your holiday. It also makes it important to talk to whoever you’re travelling with, as what might be a priority for you could be a deal breaker for your travel partner, so you might need to compromise.
Personally I’ve learnt that when I’m travelling, I don’t mind not being in the centre of the city – if a city break – as I don’t mind walking around to get the best of my surroundings. However I now know – from travelling in Australia last year – that given the choice, I’d chose a private bathroom over a shared option, as sometimes when you’re so far away from home, it’s nice to have some space to yourself.
Researching The Area
Sounds like the most obvious thing I’ve ever written, but it’s great to scout out the best areas of any place you’re heading to to see if they have what you want. If you’re looking for a city break, you might somewhere closer – or further away – to the big attractions. Or if you’re looking for a beach holiday, you might want somewhere closer to the beach, or maybe further away from the party areas?
One of the best ways I do this – other than reading around all my favourite travel blogs – is to check out Suitcase, Time Out Travel or Telegraph Travel, as they all have extensive guides on areas to stay in various cities. Without these websites I wouldn’t have found our gorgeous area of Ammoudi in Zakynthos, or known about what a nice area Montmarte can be to stay in Paris.
Hotel Comparison Websites
Whenever I start looking for accommodation for a trip I always look to Booking.com. I know there are plenty of hotel comparison websites out there, but there are several aspects that always bring me back to this website.
Firstly, I love that you’re able to filter your hotel options by review score and price, or depending on review scores from different travellers – couples, families, solo travellers etc. It’s the best way to find little known hotels that other travellers have found to be amazing, and highlights little known hotels that might not pop up in your standard holiday guide.
These little known gems might not pop up at the beginning of your search, because they’re not big chain hotels, but if you look at the top hotels with best review scores, and filter by what type of traveller you are, you might find a few cheap options that will work perfectly for what you need.
Secondly, I love this site because you can filter out what you do and don’t want – and you can always use the map view to find spots in the area you’re looking at. It sounds pretty simple, but I’ve found the user interface of this website to be the best to use when I’m using accommodation finding sites.
Another great option is Airbnb, which I really love as an alternative option to accommodation when staying away. In some cities it can be a huge help in affording accommodation, but it’s always good to get a look in whilst you’re considering where to stay, to see if an Airbnb would be of better value. For example, when planning my trip to Paris recently I assumed we’d pick an Airbnb, but I was struck by just how many hotels there were – and how cheap their prices were as well.
When looking for an upcoming trip to Lisbon, I found that so many Airbnbs looked even better than the hotel options, and they were so much cheaper, and in the really lovely areas of the city. On a recent trip to Worthing, in the UK we stayed in a gorgeous studio flat right on the front of the beach, with a really friendly host and a gorgeous little flat. This flat turned out to be the best option for us, staying in Worthing as the hotels nearby just didn’t seem as nice.
Sometimes if you just don’t know where to go on holiday, the best option is to go on Airbnb and explore the weird and wonderful flats you can stay in, and let that inspire your trip. You never know, you might end up travelling to a destination you had never thought of…! If you are looking at using Airbnb for your next trip, you can use my discount code for £25 off
I hope the above helps if any of you are looking for some cheap accommodation for an upcoming trip, or even if you just fancy a peruse through Airbnb. If you think I might have missed out a vital tip, or if there are any other websites you could recommend, let me know in the comments!
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