How to Choose the Perfect Accommodation for Your Trip

How to Choose the Perfect Accommodation for Your Trip

08/01/2018
Accommodation is one of the first things we arrange after we book tickets to our destination. And sometimes it can turn into a problem - when accommodation is scarce, expensive or otherwise unsuitable. How to choose what’s best for you and your family or friends who travel with you?

During many years and countless trips, I’ve tried different types of accommodation, from five-star hotels and huge party hostels to spending the night in my sleeping bag on a rocky beach near the Mediterranean. I can say that choosing your home away from home is one of the most important parts of your travel that can make or break your holiday, as well as make it unforgettable.

This article looks at the most popular travel accommodation types along with tips and considerations for where, how and why you should lay your head to rest.

Hotels

Hotel is a very broad term that can represent anything from a shabby bungalow to a palace. However, most hotels in the range of 3-4 stars offer more or less standardized rooms and service. Many hotels work as bed & breakfasts with a tasty morning buffet available for guests. Choose a hotel if all you want is a good night’s sleep in a clean and comfortable place with no surprises.

hotel.jpg

Pros:

  • Possibly the best choice if you’re looking for a tidy and private space to spend the nights of your trip
  • Hotel staff can help you get around and suggest places to see
  • Contrary to an all-inclusive resort, you are less tied to your hotel and can explore other interesting areas for lunch and dinner

Cons:

  • A standardized type of accommodation that probably won’t bring you a personal or exciting expertise
  • Limited breakfast hours meaning you might have to wake up earlier than you’d normally like on a holiday
  • If you travel with more than one child, you might have to book two rooms meaning higher expenses

All-inclusive hotel resorts

Sometimes we just want to have an ultimate holiday that excludes any planning whatsoever. Hotel resorts cater to holidaymakers who are traveling mainly for the purpose of leisure - in fact, these hotels are often offered in a package with your flight. You can even choose to have lunch and dinner included in your package. Resorts are usually located near beaches, deserts, ski areas and other popular attractions. Rooms in this type of hotels are generally more spacious, and there are many recreational facilities around, such as swimming pools, water sports, golf courses, shops, gyms, saunas, clubs, tennis courts, and so on. Some resorts cover vast territories, and you can spend your entire holiday in one without even leaving the grounds. However, you can also book excursions to nearby tourist attractions.

In my experience, it’s a great idea to combine resting and sightseeing from your resort - e.g., go on guided tours every second or third day. This way you won’t get bored in the premises of the resort, and you’ll also have the chance to properly relax after excursions.

resort.jpg

Pros:

  • You don’t have to think about anything - your resting, eating and even partying options are all arranged
  • Numerous recreation options - for the taste of every family member
  • A relatively safer place to stay with your family, especially in less developed countries

Cons:

  • A relatively expensive option
  • The resorts are entirely tailored to tourists so you might miss the authentic vibe of the country you’re visiting

Airbnb flats or houses

Airbnb is a very flexible type of accommodation since you can find a flat or a house for any number of people. In most cases, Airbnb is also a cheaper option, because you are striking a deal with the flat’s owner, instead of paying hotel corporations. You don’t have to worry about fraud as the Airbnb platform controls all the payments and transactions.

For the past years, Airbnb is also my favourite type of travel accommodation. My personal experience with this service is very good and memorable, although I have seldom encountered minor disappointments (namely, ants in the bathroom). Reading the reviews written by previous guests is the key to understanding if the flat is right for you.

Madeira_Funchal_Airbnb.JPGView from our wonderful Airbnb flat in Funchal, Madeira (the pool was also ours)

Pros:

  • A more personal way to get to know your destination since you’ll we living like the locals live
  • Usually, a very affordable solution as it’s rented out by people to people
  • There’s a big choice of flats in most cities and even villages
  • A reliable review system that won’t let you fall for a bad place

Cons:

  • Even if reviews for a place are good, you are still playing the lottery when booking someone’s flat that’s not standardized like the hotel rooms
  • You’ll have to take care of your own breakfast and other meals
  • Some apartments in touristic locations have lost their charming personality as the tourists march through them every day
  • After check out, there may be no place to leave your bags for the day (contrary to the hotels), unless you make an arrangement with the owner

Hostels

Hostels are generally seen as cheap accommodation for youngsters. However, the hostel culture is evolving around the world, and some of these establishments can even be nicer than a hotel. Most hostels offer dorms as well as private rooms. Alternatively, you can book a whole 6-bed dorm for your family of four or your group of friends. This way you’ll have the room to yourself.  In most cases, you’ll have to share the bathroom and kitchen with other guests.

GetInnSkopje.jpgGet inn Skopje hostel (Skopje, Macedonia) was one of the nicest, cleanest and coziest in my years of traveling.

Pros:

  • Hostels are a great place to meet people and even participate in common guided tours, concerts and board game nights
  • Hostels are usually very cheap and well-located
  • Many hostels have simple breakfast included

Cons:

  • In a hostel, you’ll have less privacy than in a hotel or Airbnb
  • Always check cleanliness reviews for the hostel. In my experience, the biggest and the most central hostels are not the nicest and cleanest.

Couchsurfing

If you want to have the ultimate local experience, Couchsurfing is the best you can get. You’ll not only live in a local’s home but even live WITH them. Furthermore, it’s the best if you’re traveling on a low budget, because it’s free of charge. The hosts are simply enthusiastic about meeting travelers and supporting the Couchsurfing community. Don’t forget to bring a souvenir from your country as a thanks to your host.

Sure, sleeping in a stranger’s home is not for everyone, but my experience shows that couchsurfing can be a very memorable and emotionally rewarding experience. Before you apply to stay with someone, read their reviews thoroughly and check their rules - how many people can stay, where will you sleep, do you need to bring a sleeping bag, etc.

couch.jpg

Pros:

  • The best way to meet the locals and ask them to show you less touristic places around.
  • The cheapest (free!) accommodation
  • A very memorable way of traveling that will enrich your travel experience

Cons:

  • In most cases, not suitable for traveling families
  • There’s a risk that you and your host won’t “click,” but in that case, you can always leave
  • You’ll have to be flexible and adjust to all the requirements of your host - e.g. what time you can arrive and leave, how long will you stay up, where you will sleep, etc.

Camping

Camping is a cheap and adventurous type of traveling that will definitely show you a different face of the place you visit. Even some of the biggest tourist sites (like Venice and Paris) have camping places around, so you can actually get a good price-location ratio. If you choose a camping, sleeping in a tent will be the cheapest option. However, you can also choose to rent a bed or a room in a cottage.

Madeira_tents.jpgA “teepee hotel” in Madeira island - a more exclusive kind of camping

Pros:

  • A very cheap form of accommodation
  • An adventure in the nature - can be also fun if you are traveling with kids
  • You can meet other travelers and have friendly conversations by the bonfire
  • Usually located in green and beautiful places with some sports activities available

Cons:

  • Usually outside the center or even city limits so may be hard and time-consuming to reach without a car
  • You’ll have less comfort as the bathroom, and other facilities are shared, and usually very simple
  • You’ll need to carry a sleeping bag with you (in most places you can rent a tent if you don’t have one)

Wrap Up

Wherever you’re staying, be sure to check the reviews of previous guests! Don’t assume that something will be better only because it costs more. Sometimes cheaper options don’t have extras, but are cleaner, have kinder staff and a personal touch. Now, a quick test. Which one of these descriptions made your heart beat faster? Congratulations - you’ve found the perfect accommodation for you!

Written specially for airBalticBlog by Ieva Baranova.

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