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  • Writer's pictureRosanne Knorr

Inexpensive (& Nice) Lodging in Europe

Updated: Oct 11, 2018

Besides airfare, the major expense in travel is accommodation. Once you’ve coughed up a healthy sum for the ticket, endured security lines, and a long flight, you might as well stay long enough to get over jet lag.

A hotel can be costly for weeks on end so check out other choices. The goals are comfort in a clean, safe, and hopefully attractive environment that fits the budget. Here are some options:

University Rooms. If you think these are funky shared rooms, plastered with band posters, think again. Universities around the world now welcome guests with upgraded facilities when classes are not in session. Rentals can be for long or short time frames, for individuals or families. France, Italy, UK, Canada, Argentina and Australia offer possibilities in over 400 student residences so far. (Tip: Check facilities carefully for amenities such as en suite bath; also, some offer linens, some don’t. compiles lists and books rooms.

Upscale Hostels. For years now, hostels have been ramping up their design and amenities. Options now include en suite rooms, cheery lobbies, breakfast, bars, even pools and saunas. I happened upon a Generator hostel and wanted to check in immediately! A sampling of other brands include Wombat , PLUS hostels, HostelOne, and St. Christopher’s but don’t stop there. One booking site is Hostel World for a wide range, including newer and older types; the rating system helps separate them.

Self-Catering Apartments. Air B&B fits in this category but there are additional local options throughout Europe. In France, they are called gîtes. The official French gîte search site offers thousands of locations. Italy’s agritourismo program encourages farmers to welcome guests and supplement income. Similar situations apply in Spain, Portugal, England, Ireland and other countries.

Home Exchange. Membership in a home swap site can pay for itself. I was tempted by a special offer my first year and exchanged for three-weeks in Copenhagen so spent nothing on lodging. (Except the $79 for membership) Check out various sites to see which have the type homes/locations you want. The largest are, intervac and homelink. Newer ones include LoveHomeSwap and Knok, which specializes in family-size accommodations.

Examples below left to right: An Aix-en-Provence gite; double room at Central Hostel Lisbon; gathering spot in Destination Hostel Lisbon.

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