Airbnb is a great way to feel like a local in a new city, but a good room in a great location can often be as expensive as a mid-range hotel. Hostels are cheap, but they lack privacy. So, what’s a budget traveler to do? If you’re traveling on your own dime and you want a little privacy, I’ve got a couple of favorite hotel chains that will provide a good night’s rest, reliable wi-fi, and won’t break your budget – the Hotels Ibis and Meininger.
Hotel Ibis is a chain with properties in many major European cities, and when you book with them, you know what you’re going to get: a comfortable, clean and no-frills room at an affordable price. Ibis has a range of hotels, and prices vary depending on the location, with lower rates if you don’t mind staying outside the main tourist areas. This is no problem in most European cities as there’s great public transportation, and often you’ll have a better experience when you stay in a less popular area.
During my last visit to Germany, I stayed at the Ibis Budget in Dresden, and while it was a huge hotel (with a walk down a very long hallway from the lobby to my room), the price was right and it was centrally located, connected to the Altmarkt Shopping Gallerie. The cost for my room was just 42 Euros per night, with the option of adding breakfast and wi-fi for an extra 9 Euros. The hotel is located in the city center, a short walk from the train station, and close to museums and the Altstadt.
Hotel Meininger is a chain that I found by accident when I was planning my last trip to Berlin. I wanted rock-bottom pricing and I didn’t want to share a bathroom. After hours of scouring Booking.com, I found a great deal at a Meininger hotel near Schoenefeld Airport. For an average price of 35 Euros per night for 5 nights, it was unbeatable. True, the fare was non-refundable, and the hotel is located outside of the city, near the airport. But I enjoyed my large, very comfortable and quiet room, and did I mention wi-fi was included? That’s better pricing than many hostels. The location on the outskirts of Berlin was not a problem, because the hotel provides a shuttle to and from the airport/train station, and it runs every 30 minutes until late in the evening. Meininger even has a decent breakfast buffet for a small fee, as well as a kitchen with a fridge, so you can prepare your own meals, which is a great way to save if you’re traveling in a group.
It’s worth mentioning that while these prices are very low, even budget hotel rates fluctuate. One of the biggest reasons that you’ll see rates spike is a special event in your destination city, like a festival or a trade fair. Luckily, many hotels, like Ibis, will alert you to this on their website as you enter your preferred dates. So, if you have flexibility in your itinerary, you can avoid peak rates and enjoy a relaxing private hotel room at a rate that even a budget traveler can feel good about.