You’re dying to go to Europe but are solo on a budget? It’s OK – you’re not alone. Budgets are important to a lot of us, but if planned wisely they don’t have to be something that holds any of us back from visiting Europe. Here is my quick guide to budget European accommodations for solo travel.
Bonus: I also provide basic travel tips and information for individual European countries found through my Europe Travel Guides. Check them out to help you plan your stay in Europe. Let’s get you to Europe!
Budget European Accommodations – How to Choose
Europe can provide many avenues of inexpensive accommodations, depending on your comfort level. You can choose from 2 to 3-star hotels or hotel alternatives such as hostels or renting a room or an apartment. Before you check out what’s available, let’s first cover some basics.
What is a “cheap stay” in Europe?
Well, what would you consider inexpensive in the U.S.? $50/night? If you can find accommodations at €50/night total or less (including VAT), then you are doing very well in my humble opinion. At that rate, you could possibly do Europe on an average of €100 a day including your accommodations. Some locations or countries are more expensive than others, of course, but that is still a good daily average cost to shoot for on a budget.
Let me take a second here to say that when I use the term “cheap” it does not infer the accommodation is not esthetically pleasing or doesn’t have decent amenities – it just means cheap in cost.
Ok, now that we got that settled let me bring up a couple of other planning tips first that I use that may help you budget travelers when looking for budget European accommodations that may help your overall trip budget, which I also touch upon in my Top 10 International Travel Planning Musts. After all, the accommodation eats up a good portion of your daily budget so let’s make it count.
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Location, Location, Location
I look for a hotel that is within walking distance to all, or most, of my planned sights and walking distance to my city entry point (train or bus station). The exception is if I am flying into the city where I then may take a shuttle to my hotel (hopefully paid for by my hotel).
For example, if I am taking a train from Lisbon to Madrid, I would find a hotel within walking distance to the Madrid Atocha railway station. Not only will I not need to pay for taxis or rideshares to arrive to my hotel, or after check out, but I would also be minutes away from hopping on the metro for sightseeing.
The Madrid Metro is clean, inexpensive and extensive. It has13 metro lines, not to mention there are more than 170 bus lines, 3 tram lines, and 10 lines of local trains to the suburbs. It’s also a great way to meet locals.
Some destination train or bus stations may be located in slightly rougher parts of town or, due to the influx of people coming and going, may be more subject to petty theft. If you are staying very close to said public transportation depots then just do a little online research to see if the area is considered safe. Perhaps the station’s West side may be considered unsafe but the East side is not?
At minimum, I look for my budget European accommodations to have:
- no-prepayment and free cancellation policies (for flexibility),
- an above-average rating
- breakfast included,
- free Wi-Fi,
- English-speaking staff,
- accept my credit cards,
- a private bathroom, and
- later check-out time and luggage-hold service (depending on my arrival and departure times).
If my breakfast is not included I will look to see if they have a breakfast plan to purchase. A typical European breakfast add-on may run about €8/breakfast, which is a good deal.
If other amenities are included, such as a restaurant/bar onsite, telephone, hairdryer, bathtub, flat-screen TV, satellite channels, double-size bed, soundproofed walls, and workout/sauna/steam rooms, for example, then all the better. Only you know what you can’t do without. I merely recommend prioritizing so you keep to the €50/night or less target.
The more time you have to plan, the more chances you will have to nab a decent accommodation. The longer you wait to reserve, the higher the price. Time of year also impacts price, of course.
Still, I’ve not had a problem finding such accommodations in the €50/night target price with all of my minimum requirements included – such as the Maurushaus seen in attached pictures – and then some. Sometimes the decision between hotels comes down to the pictures.
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Budget Hotels in Europe
As you’ve probably seen me write about before, I’m a huge fan of Booking.com. I am a Booking.com Genius member since I book with them so often. That’s because I love their extensive budget accommodation types, locations and amenities to choose from. And their free cancellation offers! If you’re new to Booking.com, try comparing their selection and options with other sites to see what fits your travel style and budget:
You may also want to take a look at the country’s or city’s official tourism site as those sites may have better local accommodation information to plan from.
Hotel Alternatives in Europe
Hostels / Pensions
Hostels are good for backpackers, students, solo travelers, groups and families. I have stayed in many hostels and pensions in my travels. I thought they were wonderful. They were inexpensive, in great locations (sometimes in cool, historic buildings), had kitchens to fix your own food (great if you’re on a budget), laundry facilities, and bars to hang out in, not to mention a wonderful way to meet other travelers and share great travel tips.
These days I prefer to stay in hotels or apartments. I like my privacy and need my beauty sleep, so the thought of sharing dorm facilities is not for me anymore. However, if you don’t mind sharing rooms and bathrooms, then please do try a hostel or pension. Nightly prices can start well under €50. Again, it all just depends on what you’re looking for. Note: some hostel organizations require a membership. Also, if you’re wanting a private room, I recommend reviewing hostels closely – some appear to cost as much as a hotel.
Room / Apartment / House Rentals
Another alternative to hostels and hotels is room, apartment or house renting. The cost of staying in one location for an extended period of time, or sharing your stay with others, could be offset by a rental situation. In any case, checking out a rental is a good idea. There are many options out there now besides Airbnb. Here are but a few of the services for European locations:
Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear if this was helpful to you. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!