Now that you know how to save money on flights when you travel in Europe, let’s talk about hotels! Well I sort of lied, we’re not only going to talk about hotels…but some other fantastic alternatives you should consider too.
Airbnb – the best thing since sliced bread
I am a HUGE Airbnb fan. I discovered the site in 2011 when trying to find reasonably priced accommodation for my family’s trip to Italy, France and Spain. I needed to find a place in each city where all 7 of us could stay (because individual hotel rooms are super expensive) and still have enough space to not drive each other crazy…this is where Airbnb comes in. With Airbnb you can rent an entire house/apartment, a room in someone’s house, or a shared room (like a pullout couch in a living room). I first discovered Airbnb in Europe but a lot of people use it in the United States too!
I’m just going to list some of the reasons why Airbnb is so stinkin’ awesome:
- Hotels in Europe are expensive and are rarely worth the cost (is it just me or are hotels in the US nicer?). Airbnb offers more affordable accommodation options plus a lot of the rentals end up being more comfortable than staying in hotels! (like our place in Lisbon)
- It’s a great solution if you’re traveling in a group; you’ll save money renting a big place instead of individual rooms at a hotel
- If you’re traveling solo or with 1 other person you can rent “rooms” in people’s houses; before you cringe at the thought of staying in someone else’s house hear me out – it’s definitely better than staying in a hostel! You can read other people’s reviews before you stay with them so if they’re a creep or their house is a dump you’ll know not to reserve a room with them! Every time I go to London for work I rent a room in someone’s house (because I got tired of gross, expensive hotels) and I haven’t had a bad experience yet!
- It’s a cool way to meet locals and get tips on things to do/what to eat in the area
- Sometimes this is the most efficient way to stay in the best locations in a city without paying a fortune; my fiancé and I rented a room in an amazing flat in Florence and we were just a few steps from the main attractions in the city, can’t beat it!
How to use Airbnb
Airbnb is like a social network and vacation rental site rolled into one. You can check out people’s profiles, their reviews of rentals, how rental owners reviewed them, what places they want to travel to, etc. If you want to use Airbnb you’ll need to make an account first and then you can start exploring!
1. Go to Airbnb.com, log in to your account, and search for your city!
4. After applying your filters check out all the options and click on one you like. Make sure to check the “Amenities” section if you absolutely need wifi or AC; not all rentals will have this kind of stuff.
I usually contact a few different hosts while searching for a place because it’s good to have options! Once a host responds you’ll receive an email notification and you can respond to them through your Airbnb account; from there you can either reserve the flat if they’ve approved you or you can keep searching for another place. Once you reserve a listing you should receive an email with your host’s contact details, how to arrive to the rental, etc. Usually the host will meet you at the rental with the keys, or they’ll have a lock-box and give you the code so you can let yourself in. If you’re thinking of traveling to Sanlúcar de Barrameda make sure to check out my Airbnb rental too 😉
Booking – get it all in one site!
I like booking.com because they let you check out all types of accommodation (hotels, apartments, villas, hostels, B&Bs, guesthouses, etc.) and you can search for special deals and discounts in a particular city. When I can’t find a good rental on Airbnb I’ll take a look at booking!
2. Set your filters and scroll through the options until you find something you like!
Hostelworld has more than just hostels!
I stayed in A LOT of hostels my first year traveling around Europe…I have some fun memories from those trips so if you’re traveling on a budget you should try staying at one or two and see what you think! My friends and I would try to get private rooms (i.e. 4 bunk beds in a room) to avoid sleeping in the same room as strangers, but sometimes that’s just part of the experience! Hostelworld allows you to search for not only hostels but also hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and apartments too. You can also apply filters to your search like price ranges, room type, etc.
These are my top 3 recommendations for finding cheap accommodation in Europe. Remember prices tend to go up during spring and summer so if you’re traveling on a budget you’ll have a better chance of getting deals and discounts in winter and fall.