Your Hotel/Hostel – A Place To Crash or A Special Part of Your Journey?

Hi Frugalistas!

Choosing where you stay on your trip is a deeply personal decision.  For some the decision is a purely practical one – where you stay is just somewhere to crash in between experiences, but for others, myself included, where I stay is an inherent part of my travel experience, and seeking out authentic, typical local hotels is part of my travel plan no matter where I am going.

At hotels in the old town centres of Europe, the views come free – this one is in Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber in Germany

My choice of hotel accommodation is really a decision based on three key factors – location, price and ambience.  If you choose carefully you can have all three and really make your accommodation a true part of your travel experience.  So, here’s how I choose the hotel of my dreams no matter where I go:

I look for small hotels – always less than 50 rooms, and usually less than 30.  I find the smaller the hotel the more like home it feels – the staff get to know me and I get to know them.  The smaller the place, the more it is like being a guest in someone’s home.

Even in a tourist mecca like Lake Como it is possible to find small, personal hotels right on the lake if you do your research

In many European towns, the smaller hotels in the historic centres of town are old merchant’s or other wealthy people’s houses converted into hotels.  High ceilings, grand moldings, and gorgeous staircases are often part of the deal – often at a bargain price.

Who cares if the lift is tiny if your room is at the top of a staircase like this! Where I stayed in Bruges, Belgium

I also find that the smaller the hotel, the more likely it is to be operated by the owner, and the more likely they are to live on site.  They will ask you how you would like your eggs cooked in the morning, and will be really interested in you and your life – you are a real guest and not just room 12!

The real advantage of smaller hotels is that they are often as not located in the older, historic parts of town – usually exactly where you want to be close to.  When I’m traveling I don’t want to have to commute to where all the action is, and to get anywhere near local colour.

When you’re visiting somewhere as gorgeous as Venice, it just makes sense to stay in the middle of it rather than out of town and just “visit”

OK, now like everyone else, price is a key factor for me in choosing a hotel.  My blog isn’t called FrugalFirstClassTravel for nothing!  The amazing thing I’ve noticed during my years of travel is that usually small, personal and centrally located comes at a bargain price.  Obviously bargain price is a relevant term – some places are just inherently expensive.  But I can guarantee you that if you search out small, centrally located hotels you will save money compared to other options in the same area – trust me on this.

Some people think that finding the perfect hotel in the perfect location at a perfect price is an unobtainable holy grail and settle for a bed and nothing more.  I say, do your research and follow my suggestions and you too will have a hotel or hostel stay that makes your trip just that little bit more special!

Do drop me a comment and tell me about your favorite hotel or hostel experiences – I’d love to hear about them!




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9 Comments on “Your Hotel/Hostel – A Place To Crash or A Special Part of Your Journey?”

  1. janross53 24/05/2012 at 10:53 pm #

    Finally figured out I needed my WordPress login to make a comment – might be a problem for those without one. Anyway, I also love to stay in interesting hotels! We stayed in L’Auberge Bonaparte in Old Montreal, a fabulous old hotel tucked away into a side street and The Red Coach Inn, a lovely old inn in Niagara Falls. I think where you stay really makes the experience so much better!

  2. cynthia247 24/05/2012 at 11:26 pm #

    I too feel that it is very important where you stay, I also like to stay in either small hotels or self-catering apartments. I always find that an apartment is much bigger than just a “room” in a hotel so you have more space to set up your computer etc. In Europe especially, I like to buy food from the local markets and experiment myself, makes the experience just that more authentic, get a feel of living in a place rather than staying. I still use tripadvisor a lot, have never gone wrong with their advice.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 25/05/2012 at 5:53 pm #

      I agree Cynthia. If I’m staying for any length of time I love getting an apartment so I can cook the local delicacies. For shorter stays I like a hotel. Thanks for your comments!

  3. Megan @ Roamancing 27/05/2012 at 11:22 am #

    My hotels/hostels have always just been places to crash; as a fellow frugal traveller, I usually go for the best value on low prices. But my experience of a place has always been elevated by a really great hostel. So it is worth it, just in my case they’re usually unexpected bonuses. One of the best places I stayed was at a hostel in Flörsheim, Germany. The owner was so kind and even saved us breakfast one morning when we overslept. The hostel had bikes we could borrow to go cycling along the Rhein and it was super easy to meet other travellers in the front lobby of the hostel. I don’t think I would remember Flörsheim so fondly if not for that hostel!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 27/05/2012 at 1:39 pm #

      I agree – its the unexpected that often makes the difference. We spent new years eve in a cheap pensione in Berlin (which was very nice) but what elevated it to the special and memorable was being greeted by the owner in the morning with glasses of champagne and special food laid out on the buffet….

  4. ladylighttravel 30/05/2012 at 5:36 pm #

    Yes! Two of my favorite experiences were with very small hotels. The first was a small 8 room place inside the castle walls in Paros. The second was a room in the garrett of a very old building in Sarlat. Lots of stairs and it was totally wonderful.


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    […] Your Hotel/Hostel – A Place To Crash or A Special Part of Your Journey? […]

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