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November 27, 2013

5 more budget places to stay in London


Followup to my very popular 7 best budget places to stay in London post earlier from this year, I have 5 more budget friendly accommodation options for you to check out on your next London trip

1. Generator Hostel, London. Bloomsbury.

Twin private room. From £49 a night.


Generator London has recently undergone a major refurbishment which has transformed this place in a huge way.

I arrived quite late on a Wednesday night, close to midnight and the place was still buzzing. Reception staff were friendly and checked me in super quick time. There was a problem with lights in my triple bed dorm room so I got quickly checked into one of their very slick twin private ensuites. The room was compact, cosy and very comfortable. There was a clothes hanging rail, full length mirror, comfy beds, linen and towels were supplied plus wifi signal in the room (4th floor) was excellent. It would have been nice to have plug point by the bed instead of in the opposite corner of the room. The ensuite bathroom was very stylish with a powerful Grohe Shower and came with complimentary Waitrose toiletries. It definitely feels more like a budget boutique hotel room.

Downstairs they have a bunch of cool social spaces where guests can relax. If you want to party, they have a cool Generator Bar that organises a number of events for guests. On Wednesday night the Karaoke night was in full swing. Away from the bar they have a nice chillout lounge complete with flatscreen TV and nice low lighting where guests were surfing the net on their laptops or tablets. During the day, within this lounge, they have a nice in-house cafe where you can order coffee and their excellent brownies.


Alternatively they do a very moderately priced ( Around £6 mark) range of hot food and snacks. I ordered a BLT toasted sandwich with fries which washed down with a bottle of Luscombe Ginger Beer. Nice.

The other cool feature in this Generator Hostel is the movie room ( 2nd Luxury Hostel I’ve found to have a dedicated movie room, the other being U Hostels Madrid) where guests can relax and watch a movie. During the day, it acts as a very cool chill-out space where guests geek out on their laptops or sleep off their hangover. Other top facilities include their travel shop where you can buy your underground tickets, book a walking tour and just get good general travel advice. They also have storage room facilities for storing your luggage.

Areas of improvement? I personally would not go for their £4.50 continental breakfast. Your usual selection of breads, ham, cheese and cereal. Coffee tasted pretty awful.I’ve had better breakfasts in hostels plus they were for free.

Otherwise, there’s not much to quibble about the Generator Hostel, London. Love the location, just a few blocks from Russell Square underground station and walking distance to the British Museum and Leicester Square. Bunch of cool cafes , bars and  budget friendly restaurants in the neighbourhood. It’s definitely one of the best hostels I’ve stayed in London and a cut above many similarly priced budget hotels in the city.

Book at


2. Housetrip apartment- North Kilburn, 5 bedroom apartment.

Sleeps 10. From £212 a night.


Courtesy of Housetrip, I was invited to stay in a 5 bedroom apartment in Kilburn Park.

Location: Nice quiet neighbourhood, just a few minutes walk from Kilburn Park underground station. 5-10 minute walk brings you to the high street where you have Tesco and bunch of other popular British High street shops.

The apartment is split into two levels. Top level has two large sized bedrooms plus a living room cum kitchen. Downstairs is another three equally large bedrooms and the bathroom. Beds are comfortable. Rooms have huge cupboards for hanging up your clothes. Towels and linen are included-great.

Apartment came with all the mod-cons you would expect -microwave, fridge-freezer, washing machine and plenty of crockery. There was a nice flat screen TV. There was also free wifi but during my stay, signal was poor.

Overall, it was a decent apartment, ideal for a few days short stay in London. Starting at £212 a night, sleeping 10, the apartment is brilliant value for money if you’re travelling in a big group. In terms of areas of improvement, rooms could have a little more character plus just the solitary bathroom is a problem when you are travelling with a large group of friends and family.

Book at


3. City Marque Apartments- Oxford House, 2 bedroom standard apartment.

Sleeps 5, from £220 a night



Less than 5 minutes’ walk from Goodge Street Underground Station, City Marque Apartments in Oxford House are serviced Luxury apartments. Location is brilliant, next to Goodge Street tube station with lots of restaurants ( on the street you can find a Yumchaa, great tea shop that does ace cakes and has fantastic wifi ) in nearby proximity and a short walk to Oxford Street, Regent’s Street and Covent Garden. The British Museum is a 10 minute stroll away.

I stayed for 2 nights in their standard apartments located on the third floor which had limited views of the London skyline. The apartment has a pleasing minimalist decor and equipped to a high standard. There was huge kitchen cum living room. Kitchen is fully equipped and also has a washing machine/dryer. Was very impressed with the superfast wifi, nice flatscreen TV and also the iPod docking station from where I could played music from my iPhone. Bedrooms are both a nice size.



One bathroom and one separate toilet which for a group of 5/6 people was perfectly adequate. Beds were comfortable, towels were supplied. It was a comfortable apartment. Perfect base for exploring London.

The price? Starting from £220 per night, I think this was a bit pricey. Based on 5 people (could sleep 6 if 2 people would share the sofa bed) sharing, for the location and the quality of apartment you could argue this is good value. You, the reader, I guess are the best judge of that.

Book at


4. Caring Hotel, London. Bayswater.

Single room, shared bathroom from £60 a night.


If you’re looking for a comfortable, no-frills hotel in Central London with a nice breakfast, then Caring Hotel, London is the perfect hotel for you. I was searching for hours for a decent hotel for 2 nights, midweek in November and anything decent, located in Central London seemed to start at the £70-£80 mark. I then stumbled upon Caring Hotel on Tripadvisor. It had a very good rating of 4 from 789 reviews. The hotel has a good location in Bayswater just a 10 minute walk from Baywater Underground station. Travelling solo for business, I wanted something basic, comfortable but not too pricey. Price point of £120 for 2 nights for a double with shared bathroom via the hotel website was very agreeable.

The hotel did not disappoint. It was a quiet neighbourhood. My room was on the fourth floor. It’s quite a hike up a very narrow staircase so if you have a lot of luggage, email them in advance and request a room on the first or second floor.

My room was comfortable. Bed was nice. It came with a sink and also a pod shower which was pretty decent. You have a wardrobe for hanging up your clothes plus also a kettle for making tea, coffee. The other big plus of this hotel is how great the wifi was. Brilliant.


Buffet breakfast served from 7:30 am till 9am is good. You have fresh morning rolls, cereals, cheese, concentrated juice and coffee. Nothing fancy but more than adequate.

Overall, the hotel exceeded my expectations. Staff were friendly and helpful. I would definitely come back and stay here on future business trips to London.

Book at


5. Access Farringdon Apartments. Farringdon

2 bedroom apartment, sleeps 5. Starts from £160



The apartment is in a great location just a few minutes walk from Farringdon Underground station.

It’s in a quiet neighbourhood. A stone’s throwaway from the apartment are a few nice pubs, a Costa Coffee plus a Budgens supermarket.


The apartments are newly renovated so everything in the apartment was brand new. The living room cum dining room is huge with lots of light. Kitchen has all the modcons you would expect. There are two nice sized bedrooms. One is ensuite. There is a second bathroom with shower and toilet so for a group of 5 this is perfect. The larger, master bedroom has three single beds and the smaller bedroom, 2 single beds. The single beds can be joined together to form a double bed. Beds come with fresh linen and also you are supplied with towels. The wifi is free at the time of my review and worked great. Overall, in terms of location, comfort and price, this was my favourite of all the three apartments I stayed in London last month. The only snag is that the apartment has a minimum booking period of 3 nights.

Book via My stay was kindly provided by Access Accommodation. If you wish to book any of their other apartments, have a look at their website.

Please note all the above accommodation, barring Caring Hotel was provided to me complimentary. The views I express are strictly my own.



August 26, 2013

6 best budget places to stay in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a great year-round destination with a host of amazing things to do….. ranging from climbing extinct volcano’s to lazing in Princes Street gardens while drinking in the beautiful vista of the Castle above your head or just going for a seafood supper in Leith, then a lazy stroll up the magical water of Leith…..

These are just a few of my 1000 favourite things to do in Edinburgh. For more inspiration , check out my National Geographic post about why I love Edinburgh. So. Coming onto the subject of this post. After numerous requests from readers, I’ve finally pulled out my finger and pulled together a short list of my favourite cheap places to stay in Edinburgh.  I hope you find it useful for your next visit to this beautiful city. If you do find the article useful, please feel free to share this piece with your friends. Importantly, if you have any tips of cool budget hotels or hostels in Edinburgh, please leave your tips in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you. Thank you!



1. Tune Haymarket


Tune Haymarket, Edinburgh is a welcome addition to the budget hotel sector in Edinburgh. If you haven’t stayed at a Tune Hotel yet (best budget hotel chain for me in the UK with some ace hotels in London that I featured earlier in my best budget places to stay in London post  ) , the key things you can expect as standard are a very comfortable bed which in terms of comfort is on par with what you would find in a luxury hotel.  I stayed at Tune Edinburgh for 3 nights earlier this year and each night had a very sound, peaceful sleep. They have an excellent housekeeping service so your bed is freshly made every day of your stay. The locations of their hotels are always topnotch. Tune Haymarket is slap bang opposite the Haymarket railway station plus also just a stone’s throw away from the Airport Bus stop. There are excellent transport links to the rest of the city and Princes Street is just a 10 minute walk away. There are a few convenience stories up the road including a Tesco and Sainsbury’s plus a bunch of excellent restaurants ( including the excellent Ramsay recommended Chinese diner, Chop Chop around the corner ) to choose from so you’re really spoilt for choice. Plus the Cineworld cinemas is just a 10 minute walk away. Other key features are their excellent power shower-great way to start your day. Electronic keycard access to rooms and also to the main lobby after midnight means the hotel is very secure. The reception staff at Tune Haymarket were excellent and extremely helpful. They were passionate travellers themselves and had a bunch of useful tips for places to eat. This for me was the standout feature of my stay. Best Tune Hotel I’ve stayed so far.

Towels, internet and TV access –you have to pay a small fee on top depending on your needs which is in line with the no-frills concept. For the price you have to pay ( room prices start from £35 mark) for the room, it’s a minor quibble.


7 Clifton Terrace, Edinburgh, EH12 5DR, Scotland, Haymarket EH12 5DR, United Kingdom

Phone:+44 131 347 9700


2.) Travelodge, various locations across Edinburgh




Travelodge may not be everyone’s cup of tea but if you are looking for a comfortable nights sleep in a great location, then these hotels deliver. In Edinburgh, Travelodge travellers have 11 hotels to choose from. My favourites in Edinburgh are the centrally located duo of Edinburgh Queen Street ( very peaceful, tranquil looking onto the leafy green Queen Street )and Edinburgh Waterloo Place ( east end of Princes St) where you are guaranteed a great nights sleep. They’ve recently launched a hotel on Princes Street itself where the rooms come equipped with the King sized Dreamer bed, dubbed by them as the ‘Rolls Royce’ of beds. Will have to personally check them out before I can personally recommend them but overall, you can’t go wrong staying at these set of hotels in Edinburgh if you are on a tight budget.

PS They’ve just launched a mega autumn-winter sale, offering rooms for just £21. Stays must be between 1st October 2013 to 2nd March 2014. ( Offer excludes central London hotels)


3.) Motel One Edinburgh Royal


Motel One, Edinburgh Royal


Motel One is a chain of stylish budget hotels from Germany and they recently entered the UK market with their first hotel in Edinburgh. This hotel has a cracking location, situated on the Market Street exit of Waverley bridge. You can’t get anymore central in Edinburgh than this hotel. The hotel itself is beautifully designed. The lobby/lounge has their trademark features  such as the turquoise egg chair by Arne Jacobsen and the ARCO lamp by Achille Castiglioni. There is an excellent bar if you like to have a quiet drink. In the morning , guests can treat themselves to the excellent, if albeit expensive (£7.50) breakfast buffet. Rooms are luxurious , comfortable with a mood pleasing palette of cream, chocolate and turquoise. Modcons you can expect in your room include a flat screen TV, mobile desks, queen size beds or twin beds, ensuite bathroom with ace power shower plus free wireless Internet which worked excellently during my stay.  If I was to make any quibbles about my stay, I would say that the staff were polite, helpful but quite wooden, retaining the uncomfortable formality that I hate about hotel staff. Otherwise, an enjoyable stay. The price point starts at £79 so it’s pricey but for the location alone and excellent rooms, Motel One Edinburgh is an excellent option to look into on your next visit to the city.


18 Market St, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh EH1 1BL, United Kingdom

Phone:+44 844 693 1077


4.) SYHA Edinburgh Central




One of the luxury hostels that featured in my recently launched guide to Luxury Hostels of Europe, SYHA Edinburgh Central offers a nice blend of the comfort of a hotel room with the easygoing friendly vibe of a hostel. Great location near the top of Leith Walk, the facilities here are excellent. Rooms are clean, comfortable and excellent value. It’s a bit quiet at night so if you’re looking for a more vibrant, party type hostel, look elsewhere. For more info, have a peek at my more detailed earlier review  of the hostel.

Single room starts at £39 low season to £52.50 peak, doubles start at £65 to £109 peak ( August) and 8 bed dorms are as little as £12-£15 low season to £25-£30 high season. All rooms are ensuite. Breakfast is extra and comes in at £4.50 per person.


9 Haddington Pl, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH7 4AL, United Kingdom

Phone:+44 870 155 3255


5.) Dene Guest House


Double bed, Dene Guest House Edinburgh

There’s a beautiful grandeur about the Dene Guest House.  Situated in a lovely 3 storey Georgian townhouse, the rooms here have tons of character and great light. The owners-Hamish and Ilio are well travelled people, very friendly and great hosts. Via, I bagged an excellent last-minute deal of just £30 ( going upto £42-£50 in peak season) for 1 night in a single room with shared bathroom facilities back in February during the low-season- great deal for a great location. After a wonderful sleep, I enjoyed an excellent cooked breakfast. Was a brief but very enjoyable stay. I wish I could have stayed longer. Highly recommend.


7 Eyre Pl, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH3 5ES, United Kingdom

Phone +44 131 556 2700


 6. Haggis Hostels, Edinburgh

kitchen, haggis hostels edinburgh

Two of my favourite blogger buds- Kate McCulley and Anthony Middleton enjoying unlimited cups of tea in the ace kitchen at Haggis Hostels, Edinburgh. Image courtesy of


Haggis Hostels is my favourite hostel in Edinburgh. Set in a renovated 18th century Georgian building this has an unbeatable location just off the east end of Princes Street. Facilities are fantastic here. The wireless internet is great, there is a 24/7 reception presence in case you need help plus rooms are well heated and bedding comfortable (nice thick mattresses) .Rooms come with extra large lockers. Shared shower facilities are plentiful and very clean. They have a nice wee lounge with a library of travel guidebooks and magazines. The self-catering kitchen is large with lots of pots and pans so if you’re on a tight budget this is a another big advantage of staying here. ( Sainsburys supermarket just around the corner)  Guests can help themselves to free coffee/tea and toasts all day. They have excellent washing facilities plus tumble dryer.

The biggest advantage of staying here is the hospitality of owners Allan and Chris-they are proud, passionate locals and have a bunch of great tips to share with guests. A bed in the dorm starts at just £18-this place is a great bargain.


5/3 West Register Street Edinburgh EH2 2AA

Phone:+44 131 557 0036


June 20, 2013

Review of Bus Hostel in Reykjavik

Bus Hostel Reykjavik

Bus Hostel in Reykjavik


Bus Hostel Reykjavik is a friendly, fun and super affordable place to stay while exploring Iceland’s capital or beyond. With welcoming and helpful staff and lots of vintage style and quirky details, quite unexpectedly Bus Hostel in Reykjavik became a home from home in one of the world’s coolest cities and we mean that in terms of both the weather and the lifestyle on offer there.



Review of Bus Hostel

The bar inside Bus Hostel


It says something about me and my usual mode of travel that when Kash asked me to represent Budget Traveller on a “Volcano-hopping tour of Iceland staying in a hostel” the bit I was most worried about was staying in a hostel. Volcanoes? Yep, all good, bring those deadly dangerous magma chambers on. Staying in a hostel? Well, that was when my knees started to shake and my palms moistened a little.

I needn’t have worried.

I needn’t have been so opinionated for so many years.

And perhaps I needn’t have spent so much money on hotels…?!



Review of Bus Hostel

Bus Hostel’s Vintage Decor in the Lounge


Bus Hostel in Reykjavik exceeded all of my snobbishly low expectations and then some.

With vintage decor filling the large open plan lounge and bar area, a fully-equipped kitchen close to the bedrooms and several separate bathrooms in which you are encouraged to indulge your inner rock star or opera diva as you sing in the shower, this is a hostel that wants to make its customers happy.


Review of Bus Hostel

Where you can find the bathrooms in Bus Hostel… I can’t argue with this!


Formerly used as the office of a bus company (hence the name), Bus Hostel opened its doors in May 2013 and it has welcomed a wide range of guests since then, from a globetrotting pensioner backpacker to a couple of newly-weds who asked staff members to be witnesses as their wedding.

Of course, there are the bits I’m still not sure I’d do in a hostel, like sleeping in a communal dorm or living off noodles for weeks but for those with sturdier sleep patterns than I, you can find a couple of large mixed and single sex dorms. But I was naive to think that that’s all a hostel has to offer. Bus Hostel also has rooms with just four or six bunk beds, ideal for those preferring a little more privacy and three “Ritz” rooms cater for couples who want a double bed and some privacy.


Review of Bus Hostel

I loved the long dining table at the back of this picture to work on


All the communal bedrooms have spacious lockers for valuables and if you do choose to have the bed linen they offer at a small additional cost then you will be guaranteed a cozy night’s sleep on a perfectly plump pillow and cotton fresh white sheets. All the bedrooms are wonderfully minimalist in a way that only Nordic countries can achieve, though do expect the odd quirky detail.


Review of Bus Hostel

Bus Hostel Wall art and a twin bedroom


Bus Hostel is located less than ten minutes walk from the city’s BSI central bus station and you can find yourself in the centre of Reykjavik at the foot of the impressive Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral within fifteen minutes walk. The bar serves cheap beer and wine and I warmed to the additional touches that I didn’t know hostels were known for like the book swap cupboard, free wifi, free luggage storage and the free food shelf in the kitchen.


Review of Bus Hostel

My favourite wall in Bus Hostel, Reykjavik


Sounding good? Well, I haven’t even got to the best part of Bus Hostel.

The staff there are exceptional. They are warm, welcoming and ready to help you get the most out of your stay with budget tips or trip planning. SAD Cars, a budget hire car company is also based in the same building and I can’t emphasise enough how amazing it is to see Iceland by road; less than an hour away you can find yourself surrounded by the landscape of a lava field or watching plumes of steam rise in the air from the geothermal springs and spas that are dotted across Iceland (you can see some photos of our adventures in Iceland here).

It was hanging out with Bus Hostel’s staff that made me realise that I’ve been missing out on a certain camaraderie among travellers that you don’t often enjoy when staying in hotels. Also I happen to know that Kristin – Bus Hostel’s manager – knows the best vintage and thrift shopping places in Reykjavik so be sure to ask her about them.


Review of Bus Hostel

Bus Hostel’s “Rules” – Good rules for life, i think!


A notoriously expensive country and city to travel in, Bus Hostel is currently the cheapest hostel and budget accommodation available in Reykjavik. Prices for a bed in a dorm start at 2800 ISK (£15) a night in low season and 4750 ISK (£25) in high season. A double room is 9100 ISK (£50) in low season and 12990 ISK (£70) when summer rolls around and this includes towels and bedding. Get to Reykjavik and the Bus Hostel by hopping on the FlyBus from Keflavik Airport. If you buy the Return+ ticket it includes a drop-off and pick-up from the hostel.

The only problem that Bus Hostel left me with was wondering what I do now when I travel? After ten years of avoiding hostels, my eyes have been opened and while it does mean I have more options to trawl through when I plan my next trip, I see this is as no bad thing.


Review of Bus Hostel

Another cool quote from Bus Hostel (and spot the Frankie!)


Bus Hostel Reykjavik, SKÓGARHLÍÐ 10, 105 REYKJAVÍK, Iceland. (Tel. +354 535 0350)

Frankie was a guest of Bus Hostel Reykjavik and SAD Cars and her flight to Iceland was sponsored by Icelandic budget airline Wow air (who probably have the best crew uniform I’ve seen). Her opinions – both snobby and otherwise – and her journey to hostel happiness are completely own and no-one could be more surprised than Frankie to find that she really did.


June 12, 2013

6 of the best budget places to stay in Paris


As a followup to my popular 7 of the best budget places to stay in London, I thought I’d turn the spotlight on Paris after receiving a number of requests for tips of budget places to stay here.  As one of the most expensive cities in the world Paris may appear to be out of reach to many but the city does boast an array of budget friendly accommodation options to choose from, from hostels to cheaper hotels costing as little as €23 per night. Also have a peek at my 2 days in Paris for €100  piece for further inspiration.


Here are my 6 best places to stay in Paris: agree or disagree? Please leave your comments below.


1. St Christopher’s Inn Canal Hostel


St Christopher's Paris



From the popular European hostel group St. Christopher’s, The Canal in Paris is a custom built hostel in a great location with nice clean dorms and private rooms plus the Belushi’s Bar and Nightclub in the basement.

St Christopher’s Canal is in a peaceful location overlooking the Bassin de la Villette – the city’s largest artificial lake where scenes of the movie Amelie were filmed. A short metro trip taking you to the main sights of Paris.

The hostel site was formerly a warehouse back in the 19th Century having been rebuilt in 2008 , holds onto its history whilst offering a modern take with cool furnishings such as the pod beds.

Starting at  prices of just €28 per night you have the option to choose from female only dorms and private rooms and take advantage of a bunch of cool facilities such as free Wi-Fi, breakfast, 24 hour access and a free walking tour of Paris.

St Christopher’s Inn are opening a brand new hostel a short walk away from the Gare du Nord station in July 2013 which will be worth keeping your eyes open for.


2. Hotel du Champ Mars


Hotel du Champ Mars


The Hotel du Champ Mars is the typical traditional boutique style accommodation that you would expect from Paris.

The surprise lies in the cost, especially considering the location, starting at just €100 per night.

It is difficult to beat the Hotel du Champ Mars location, only 1km away from the Eiffel Tower with some rooms benefitting from views of the tower.

Other benefits of the location include the Rue Cler, a famous street hosting a market which is a must visit if you want to see the authentic side of Paris with speciality services and products such as cheese and chocolate available, and of course being in walking distance from museums and sights such as Musee du Quai Branly.

Continental breakfast at Hotel du Champ Mars is available at an additional €5 and Wi-Fi or computer access both available free of charge!

With only 25 rooms you can expect a quiet stay and personal service but rooms do get booked well in advance so make sure you book early.


3. Oops! Hostel


Oops! Hostel


Bold and design centric aptly sums up the Oops! Hostel in Paris, the first of its kind in the city when it opened in 2007. Each of the rooms and communal areas all have vastly different innovative interiors combining bold colours and prints which have led Oops! to be featured in the likes of ‘Real Design’ magazine. Free Wi-Fi is available, as is a continental breakfast of cereal, a croissant and bread roll and if you’re staying on Wednesday, Friday or Saturday you even get free crepes.

Beyond the design and facilities, Oops! also benefits from the pretty amazing location in the Latin Quarter which consists of a myriad of streets with buildings, statues, live entertainment and artwork which will take you back to true bohemian Paris whilst still providing lots of opportunities for fun and things to do.

You can choose from a bed in the shared dorms, prices start at €23 per night or a private room from €60, the added bonus of en-suite bathrooms in each of the rooms makes these rates exceptionally great value.




4. Hotel de la Mare

This is a traditional Parisian guest house which has recently been refurbished and now offers a variety of accommodation options from €100 per night. Rooms are relatively spacious, sleeping between 1 and 2 all of which have a kitchen though some do share a bathroom so if you want your own private bathroom check this when you book.

The kitchenette particularly appeals to backpackers and will help you stick to your budget.

Instead of eating out you can prepare your own meals from the authentic French food shops.

If you do want to head out for dinner popular areas such as La Bellevilloise are just a short walk away.

The Hotel de la Mare’s recent refurbishment has resulted in a monochrome base with bright accents which will appeal to everyone and all the rooms have all the modern facilities which you would expect from a small hotel.




5. Mama’s Shelter

Mama’s Shelter Paris Hotel is a change from the tiny, stuffy overpriced hotel rooms of Paris and has been appreciated by backpackers and the press alike.

Mama’s Shelter is located to the west of the city so there will be some travelling involved if you are planning on spending a lot of time in the centre . The Alexandre Dumas Metro Station is 750 metres away, providing easy access to the Montmartre district and the Sacré-Coeur Basilica.

In addition to the restaurant other facilities here include free Wi-Fi, free movies, laundry, an iMac and televisions all for a budget friendly €79, with an option of upgrading to Luxe, Deluxe and Terrace rooms which all offer additional space.


6. Or…why not try an Airbnb Room in the Centre of Paris?

AirBnB paris


Airbnb should be part of every budgettraveller’s arsenal with some of the most affordable places to stay in Paris featured on their site. In addition to the budget friendly accommodation you get the opportunity to stay with a local Parisian host which can often be the best way to find out about the must visit spots off the beaten path. You may find yourself spoiled for choice with hundreds of properties to choose from but  check out property reviews to make it easier for you to narrow down the options.

Vincenzo’s property  (in picture ) for instance offers a private spare room with access to kitchen and living area facilities such as Wi-Fi and television for just €60 per night is great value for Paris.


Hope you enjoyed the piece. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts below.

Please note that this post was made possible by but the views represented here are entirely mine.






May 24, 2013

Oasis Backpackers’ Palace, Seville review


With a stunning outdoor pool and terrace bar, close to some of Seville’s oldest tapas bars and cafes -Oasis Backpackers’ Palace is a great base for exploring Seville.




Situated in a 19th-century building near Plaza Encarnación, the hostel is in a great location with a clutch of historic tapas bars and some of the city’s best nightlife spots within a short radius.



Rooms and Bathrooms


High ceilings, towering ornate columns, stained glass windows , marble staircase and antique furniture create a palatial sense of grandeur.




Dorms are spacious, bunk beds are sturdy with large lockable drawers beneath to store your luggage and valuables.

Private rooms are air-conditioned , very stylish and spacious with a balcony and large ensuite bathroom.





Guests checking-in get a free drink token which they can redeem at the roof-top terrace bar which also has its own pool.




Tip: Do not come here if you are not in the party social mode.

On the first floor there is a common area where you can meet people and check your mail on the free internet terminals. Plus you have the stunning rooftop terrace with pool which becomes a party zone at night with cocktails being served , live bands performing or a DJ pumping out the tunes.

You can have dinner with fellow guests on the terrace enjoying dishes like paella and glass of sangria for as little as €5.

A late checkout of 11:30am means there’s no need to rush the free breakfast ( 8-11 am) of pancakes, toast, cereal, tea and coffee.

Staff are attentive to guest needs and helpful.  Hostel has an excellent inhouse concierge service during the daytime which offers travel advice, book tours and plan your future trips. Pancho tours  provide free walking tours which offer indepth insight into the history of Sevilla.

Free wifi is pretty good.



I love the interior décor and the staff are friendly and helpful. The facilities here are good and there is a great buzz around the place. Rooftop terrace is great for cooling down in the Andalusian heat and also is a great place to party. This is a very cool hostel in a great city.



C/ Almirante Ulloa, 1 – 41001 Seville (Spain)



Dorm rooms ( 4, 6 and 8 bed ensuite ) start from €13 and Doubles start from €44.


Getting there


From the Train Station Santa Justa

Exit the station through the doors marked B or C. Walk along the front of the station past the taxis, to the bus stops. Take Bus No. 32 to Ponce de Leon and get off at the last stop. From here take the street Almirante Apodaca which changes to Calle Imagen and continue straight until Plaza Encarnación.The hostel is on the left hand corner of the plaza just behind the Iglesia de la Anunciación church at Calle Compañia 1.


From the Seville Airport

There is just one bus that takes you to the city. Get off at the train station stop (first station after the airport: Santa Justa) and walk to the entrance of the train station. Turn left and cross the parking and you will see the Bus Stop No. 32 on Street Avenida José Laguillo. Then follow the directions above “From Santa Justa train station”. A taxi to Plaza Encarnación will cost 25 euros, plus an extra charge for luggage.


Disclaimer: My stay was sponsored by Oasis Hostels but the views presented here are entirely my own. All photographs used in this review are taken by Oasis Hostels.











April 12, 2013

Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin review


On my latest trip to Dublin I had the chance to check out Wynn’s Hotel , a historic hotel in the heart of Dublin.






Location of Wynn’s is unbeatable and what makes this hotel stand out –right in the heart of Dublin off O’Connell Street you are within walking distance of all the key sights: Dublin Castle, Trinity College and the Temple Bar area.


Dining room. Wynns Hotel, Dublin

Dining and breakfast room. Wynns Hotel, Dublin


Great hospitality

In existence since 1845, if you like hotels that are historic and full of character you will love Wynn’s- it’s a taste of traditional Irish hospitality.

Staff are attentive and extremely helpful.




The rooms

My double room on the 5th floor was away from noise of trams below and towards the back–had a great nights sleep.

It was on the small side and very compact.

Useful amenties in the room included coffee making facilities in the room, a small flatscreen TV and free wifi which was decent throughout my stay,

Ensuite bathrooms are clean and toiletries are provided.

The shower was tiny and the water strength was poor. Hopefully this was a one-off and a temporary issue.


Top breakfast

One of the best features of the hotel is the free breakfast where you get a nice hot, cooked breakfast from the traditional Irish to Eggs Benedict: great way to start the day. Coffee was not the best but otherwise everything was ace.

The hotel has a nice onsite bar where guests can relax and have a pint of the black stuff.



I like the location, old fashioned hospitality , free wifi, good breakfast and my room was clean and comfortable. Downside was that my room was quite compact ( they have larger sized rooms), shower poor which maybe a one-off but otherwise a good experience.

The price point? Booked via HRS UK the price of the hotel for two nights was 178 Euros or 89 per night which is definitely on the pricier side but nevertheless for the location you could argue, good value. Depends on what is important for you and also what you would classify as ‘budget’ in Dublin city centre.

Tip: Book a room towards the back of the hotel and on the top floor to have a good nights sleep.



39 Abbey Street Lower, Dublin 1



My stay was made possible through the kind support of HRS UK but the views are clearly my own and by no means biased by the sponsor. I value that readers come here for my honest opinions and they always come first when I write any review. If you have any feedback about my reviews, please share via the comments box below or contact me on europebudgetguide AT 

March 4, 2013

Lisbon Calling Hostel review


Part of a 250-year-old building Lisbon Calling Hostel is another stunning Lisbon hostel , overflowing with beautiful period features and vintage charm. It’s also home for the owners and their friends so staying at this hostel really feels like you’ve been welcomed into someone’s home.


Lounge. Lisbon Calling Hostel

Lounge. Lisbon Calling Hostel.  Note: All photos in this review are courtesy of Lisbon Calling Hostel




Situated just a short walking distance from the city centre (Chiado) and the city’s nightlife hotspots of Bairro Alto and Cais de Sodré , this hostel is in a fantastic location.


1812 , lisbon calling hostel

’1812′ room , Lisbon Calling Hostel


Rooms and bathrooms


Staying here is an experience. With quirky interior décor, stone walls and wooden floors , all the rooms here have a nice rustic charm, filled with light and very spacious.


If you are looking for romance and something exclusive- stay in the doubles room section which is a separate section of the building and almost akin to the experience of having your own apartment in Lisbon.





You get your own keys to come and go from your room as you please. There are only four rooms, each one with a cool theme. I stayed in ’1812′ -charmingly furnished with vintage retro pieces. The rooms was huge with tall ceilings and large windows that offered me great panoramic views of the square below and the beautiful church of Sao Paolo. You share a very clean, well maintained bathroom and kitchen with the other residents here but it’s not much of an issue.


dorm, lisbon calling hostel

FRESCOS : 10 Bed Dorm, Lisbon Calling Hostel


Dorms -4, 6 and 10 bed dorms are excellent value and comfortable- the beautiful wooden bunk beds are custom made and raised so you can catch views of the church square while the ceilings are adorned with frescos.




Living area

Living area


This place is a living exhibition of eclectic furniture pieces and fittings that the owners have procured from Portugal and Europe to give the place a unique charm and feel. There is everything from an antique bathtub coverted into a table , 1950′s Rock and Roll memorabilia to outlandish kitsch decorations that create a very colourful vibe.


kitchen lisbon calling hostel

Shared Kitchen space for the ‘Doubles’ apartment


One of the great features of staying in the doubles is the very cool free breakfast There is no fixed breakfast hour. Fresh breadrolls are kept in an embroidered cloth bag which is hung on your room’s door handle in the morning. Whenever you’re up and running, you take them to the common kitchen and make coffee or tea, help yourself to orange juice from the fridge, have muesli and toast the bread enjoy with butter or delicious fruit jam. Given that you are sharing with three other couples you have a good chance to having the kitchen to yourself.


The kitchen area in the main part of the hostel is a very cool, social space where the owners encourage guests to use their fridge and often invite guests to join them as they cook lunch or dinner for no extra cost-really feels like you are visiting a friends or relatives home.

The free wifi is excellent and the staff here are friendly with lots of great tips to make the most of your stay here. Also for free here….

Secure Storage (individual lockers, locks & keys)
 plus in the words of the owners :), All day-do-it-yourself coffee and tea (coffee machine and kettle)


Top tip

Across from the hostel is Rua de Nova Carvalho, formerly the ‘red light’ district of Lisbon. There are some cool bars here but the pick of the joints is Pensao Amor , once a cheap pension with rooms rented by the hour to prostitutes. Nowadays the place functions as a bar, venue for concerts and also has a leopard and gold decorated pole dance room which is used for pole dancing workshops.





Choose from a…

BLUE WITH A VIEW – 4 Bed Mixed Dorm
(2 on platform + 2 down)

THE NEST – 4 Bed Mixed Dorm (2 bunks)

PLATFORM – 6 Bed Mixed Dorm
(3 on platform + 3 down)

FRESCOS – 10 Bed Mixed Dorm
(5 bunks)


Room prices start from just 16 euros for a room or just 50 euros per night for staying in the ‘1812’ room.


Rua de Sao Paulo, 126 – floor 3D

1200-429 Lisbon, Portugal


+351 213 432 381


To end… a cool video from the owners welcoming you to their cool hostel.



February 27, 2013

The Grand Hostel, Berlin review


Situated in the trendy Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district in a former Bishop’s Palace dating back to 1874, The Grand Hostel Berlin is a hostel that combines a bit of old world Berlin charm , great hospitality plus has a stunning library bar.




The location

The location is excellent, just a 3 minute walk to the Möckernbrücke station from where you can access the U1 and U7 lines.  It’s in a quiet neighbourhood so this hostel is the perfect place to relax in after a long day and also gives visitors convenient access to Berlin and it’s fabled nightlife.




Rooms and bathrooms

Card key access gives you access to the rooms-very secure. The shared dorms in Grand Hostel are clean and well maintained- they all have flat beds and no bunks. Beds are spaced out nicely. Rooms have high ceilings and come with beautiful bay windows that give the rooms a nice light, cosy feel. Double rooms are beautifully furnished with the a bit of old fashioned charm- potted plants, dressing table and walk in wardrobe.  My only minor gripe would be the extra 3.50 euros for linen and towels for 2 euros.

Common bathrooms are clean and plentiful on each floor. They come with hairdryers.



On check-in, guests are offered a free cup of coffee or tea or water at check-in which is a nice gesture after a long journey. Coffee machine is great here btw.

The staff here are a real credit to the hostel and some of the best I’ve encountered on my luxury hostels tour. Professional, courteous and always willing to help- it’s 5 star hotel service.

Another standout feature of the hostel is the library bar they have. It’s impossibly cool with volumes of old dusty books from floor to ceiling that you can have a nosy through while enjoying your coffee. During the day, I spent a lot of time sitting on one of the leather armchairs reading a book or just catching up with friends on my laptop with the help of the free internet connection. In the evening the library/common room becomes the meeting point with the bar opening up. Morgan, the bartender running the show knows how to make a mean cocktail and keeps guests entertained with his banter. I spent a large part of my evenings at the Grand Hostel chatting with Morgan and the guests.

There is no breakfast included. However the hostel’s very own Grandwich Bar just next door to the hostel offers a good breakfast, variety of delicious sandwiches, paninis and traditional german food at decent prices.

If you’re visiting the hostel on Wednesdays they currently are offering a free pasta dinner which is a great excuse to meet fellow guests.

The hostel staff also offer a walking tour of Berlin and run a pub crawl on Fridays. They offer an in-house bicycle rental for 10 euros a day ( 50 euro deposit required)




What makes this a luxury hostel

It’s a great experience staying here- the combination of old Berlin Charm, beautiful interior décor and  great service from staff make you feel you are staying in a hotel more than a hostel-a great experience. With the cool Library bar and spacious, bunk less dorms makes this an ideal base for exploring Berlin.


Top tip

You’re just a short walk away (Mehringdamm 32 ) from kebab heaven: ask staff for direction to Mustafa’s. The kebabs here have the perfect balance of meat, sauce, vegetables and bread. The meat is nice and juicy. The vegetables they use are fresh plus you get fried potatoes too which is genius. A squeeze of lemon juice and….food heaven. Warning: Queues are huge here so grab a bottle of beer so ease the pain of a long wait. It’s worth it in the end.


The Journey

The hostel is a short walk away from Hallesches Tor and Möckernbrücke ( U1, U7) which connects you nicely to the rest of Berlin.



To book


Book at


Room prices vary according to season and start from 12€ a night for a bed in the 6 bed salon , 40€ for a twin or double with shared bathroom  or 60€ for a double room, ensuite


Tempelhofer Ufer 14
10963 Berlin

Tel:  +49 (30) 200 95 45-0

Email: [email protected]

February 6, 2013

7 of the best budget places to stay in London


Can you recommend a good budget hotel or hostel for me to stay in London?


This is probably my most popular request from readers and friends so I thought it would be beneficial to summarise on my blog, my favourite budget places to stay in London. So in no particular order, here are my 7 best places stay in London on a budget. ( Also do check out my recent post on 5 more cool budget places to stay in London )


umi london

Double room at umi London


1. umi hotels, London


A double room for 2 people in a 3 star hotel in the £60-80 price bracket in London is hard to beat and when you add to that the location of the hotel – the trendy neighbourhood of Notting Hill , you’ve got the ingredients of a great stay in London. Welcome to umi hotels, brainchild of hotelier Steve Lowy who came up with the unique idea of employing interns who were still at university studying hospitality degrees to help run his hotels. The result is a refreshing, youthful and can-do attitude amongst staff which makes a nice change. The hotel boasts a 24 hour concierge service which takes care of your onward travel needs or if you just want to book a ticket for the latest West End shows. Start your day in style at the hotel’s groundfloor coffee shop, Yumi which offers complimentary newspapers alongside a choice of hot cooked or continental breakfasts. You can enjoy teas and freshly grounded coffee throughout the day. If you’re looking for a hotel stay with a bit of personality, you’ll love umi.


Book at Prices start from £60



Tune Hotels, Liverpool Street

Tune Hotels, Liverpool Street: 5 star beds at 1 star price.


2. Tune Hotels, London


Tune Hotels in London are a breath of fresh air in the hotel scene. It’s no-frills approach has been adopted by many but for me the key thing that sets it apart of the other chain hotels are the superb locations in London– Westminister, Liverpool Street, Kings Cross and now Paddington. Plus you the awesome Hypnos beds as standard – a feature which you find in luxury hotels in London like Brown and One Aldwych ( plus superior doubles in umi London) You just sink into these beds and have the best nights sleep. Their ensuite bathrooms are small but offer brilliant power showers that get you going for the day. With advance prices of just £35 per room, per night they represent superb value.

Book at Prices starts from £35, per night



London now is blessed with a number of a top notch hostels that I visited as part of my Luxury Hostels of Europe project.

If you’re looking for a comfortable room to sleep in with a social edge, check out some of my favourite London hostels below


Hillspring Lodge. Palmers Lodge Boutique Hostels, London

Hillspring Lodge, Palmers Lodge Boutique Hostels. London



3 & 4) Palmers Lodge Swiss Cottage and Palmers Lodge Hillspring Lodge 


Palmers Lodge run two superb hostels in London- both of them offer a unique experience. Palmers Lodge Swiss Cottage offer a more social atmosphere and that cosy, home away from home atmosphere. The common room is the social hub where guests relax on the sofas browsing on their tablets and laptops using the excellent free wifi or chatting to fellow guests around the tables. Both hostels run an excellent onsite bar where you can meet fellow guests and enjoy an inexpensive drink or decently priced pub grub.

Hillspring Lodge, Palmers Lodge is superbly furnished and offers a more modern décor. It’s in a peaceful neighbourhood bit away from the main drag so if you’re looking for a chilled out hostel, you’ll prefer this. If you like hostels with character both places offer a great experience: Hillspring hostel is filled with quirky objects like deer rugs hanging from the celiing and a garden filled with 100 odd motorcycles whereas the Swiss Cottage branch is located in a stunning Victorian grade II listed building. Beds in the dorm are also a standout feature, made of sturdy oak wood , fitted with nice mattresses plus come with a private curtain and reading light.


Book at Prices starts at £16 a night


Clink 78! Hostel

Clink 78! Hostel


5) Clink! 78 London


Clink! 78 is set in a stylishly renovated Victorian 200 year old courthouse in an excellent location just a few minutes walk from Kings Cross station . This is a cool party hostel and accommodates upto 500 guests from as little as £12 a night. Facilities onsite include an onsite bar and also travel shop to help guests book discounted tickets for top London attractions and also assist with airport transfers and onward travel arrangements. Guests can chill out in style in the infamous, wood panelled Internet and PC courtroom which previously served as a magistrates courtroom where The Clash were famously tried for shooting carrier pigeons in 1978, provoking them to write the song ‘Guns on the Roof’.  For those interested in the indulging further in the criminal past of the hostel you can rent your own private prison cell for as little as a £50 a night. Cells come fully furnished and complete with a barred window.


Book at Prices start at £12 a night


photo 2-1

6) Safestay Hostel


The brand new Safestay Hostel is in a great location near Elephant & Castle tube station and is situated in John Smith House which , in a previous incarnation, served as the  Labour party headquarters. With it’s bright purple and hot pink colours, quirky design features and lighting by Tom Dixon-its a very stylish affair.  The bar cum common room downstairs is a great shared space for guests with a bar, pool room plus uplholstered armchairs where guests can sink into and access the hostels’ free wifi via their internet devices. Beds in the dorm rooms come equipped with a reading light, nice thick duvets and also a private fitted curtain to offer guests privacy and also avoid being woken up whenever another fellow guest walks in. Families are welcomed with the hostel offering private rooms that include a double bed and single bunk above plus 40 inch plasma screen TV’s, complimentary tea and coffee making facilities.

Book at Prices start from £20 a night




7) Meet the locals: Stay in a London ( Miriam’s) apartment with Wimdu


Another cool, alternative option would be to choose an apartment rental in London. Till this year, I’ve traditionally always looked at hotel or hostels when visiting London. When Wimdu invited me in the summer to experience the opportunity to stay in one of their properties across the world, I was intrigued. My opportunity came later in November when I was looking for a roof over my head with fellow blogger Mike Sowden for World Travel Market in London. After a search of their extensive portfolio of properties, we finally plumped for a shared apartment in Stratford on the doorstep of the Olympic Park. It offered great connections to central London with the bus no. 25 running an all day and night service into the city plus it’s all on the Central and DLR line. The other benefits of the location is that the Westfield Shopping centre (Europe’s biggest shopping centre ) is right on the doorstep. The biggest asset of choosing the property was the hospitality of Miriam with whom we clicked instantly- very warm, open hearted and had some great conversations with her: everything from Indian weddings, Slovakian food to talking about places to travel in 2013. The place itself was cosy, bright colours and beautifully furnished rooms with a great kitchen and common room. Plus excellent wifi connection.  You think sharing with the owner would be awkward but it was quite the contrary-they were very easy to be around and were quite discreet.


Book at A night’s stay at Miriam’s apartment booked via Wimdu costs around £100 a night with 2 double bedrooms that sleep 4.


Hope you enjoyed my suggestions. If you have any budget friendly places you would recommend  while staying in London , pleased do share below.


February 4, 2013

Goodmorning Hostel, Lisbon reviewed


Funky common room at the Goodmorning Lisbon Hostel

Funky common room at the Goodmorning Lisbon Hostel

If you’re looking for a taste of warm Portuguese hospitality in an unbeatable location within Lisbon, then say hello to Goodmorning Hostel on your next visit to the city. 


The location

Goodmorning Hostel is in a unbeatable location in Praca dos Restauradores just a stone’s throw away from the Metro Station and Rossio Train Station. Airport Shuttle leaves from just across the square.


clocks good morning lisbon hostel

Clocks on the wall of the common room, telling the different time from across the world


Rooms and bathrooms

Warm and cosy are two perfect words to sum up the experience of staying in the Goodmorning.


Beautiful upholstered leather chairs in the common room of the hostel

Beautiful upholstered leather chairs in the common room of the hostel


The hostel is typical of the breed of designer hostels in Lisbon. You have warm wooden flooring, bright bold wallpaper and rooms filled with a cornucopia of vintage curios and recycled furniture pieces that set it apart from the run of mill hostel-my personal favourite being the ‘bathtub couch’ on the top floor. The dorm rooms are spacious, beds well laid out and very comfortable. Each bed in dorm comes with a mini shelf to keep your keys and coins, power socket and reading light. Travellers looking for more privacy can choose from one of their private ensuite doubles on the top floor of the hostel. All rooms come with a balcony and panoramic views of the city.


staff good morning hostel

Me and my second family- the amazing staff at Goodmorning Hostel



Hostel staff – Joao ( makes the best waffles) , Yolanda ( puts on great tunes and introduced me to some cool bands ) , Duarte ( Great if you’re looking for a guitar player for a good ole singsong in the evening over a few beers) Magdalena ( wicked sense of humour and makes great pierogi) and Manuela ( organizes cool and fun stuff, always a big smile on her face and is an amazing singer)  are the outstanding feature of this hostel. They have a friendly personable approach, full of great enthusiasm and ideas of cool things to do in Lisbon that you might not find in your guidebook. It’s rare to meet such a great group of nice people in one hostel. Staying there for a few days, by the time I left, I felt like I was part of a big family.



Cosy, intimate dining room at the Goodmorning Hostel, Lisbon

Cosy, intimate dining room at the Goodmorning Hostel, Lisbon


They organize excellent free walking tours of the city and also a ‘Dinner with the locals’ where they introduce guests to local Portuguese dishes. Guests can join in with the cooking. I pitched in one night and cooked the guests an authentic Indian curry. (Video below)


Eating dinner and sharing stories of travel experiences with the staff and hostel guests  at Goodmorning was one of my most memorable experiences from my travels this year.  Staff often offer a glass of red wine, port wine or Ginginha to the guests for free.There is a cheap ,excellent supermarket just a stone’s throw away which is quite handy.

Free breakfast is fantastic ( until 1130am ) and something different from your standard hostel fare-they offer freshly prepared waffles which you can enjoy with good filtered coffee and juices. Free coffee and tea is offered throughout the day.

They have a dedicated internet room on which guests can surf on for free and also a separate TV room with a large flatscreen TV and DVD player to watch movies. The free wifi is decent and available throughout the hostel. They have a free left luggage facility in case you are travelling later in the day.


What makes this a luxury hostel

Staying at the Goodmorning Hostel is like being invited into a friend’s home- superb central location, generous breakfast and the friendly, knowledgeable hostel staff makes this a great base for exploring Lisbon.


Ensuite double room at Goodmorning Hostel, Lisbon. Starting at just 60 euros a night, it's a steal

Ensuite double room at Goodmorning Hostel, Lisbon. Starting at just 60 euros a night, it’s a steal

Top tip

If you’re looking for a romantic break in Lisbon in a great location , choose the double ensuite room at the top of the hostel with it’s beautiful comfy bed, great views and quirky decor.


The Journey

The hostel is just 250 metres away from the Restauradores Metro station and the Rossio Train Station.

I flew to Lisbon with easyJet which is the main low-cost airline serving the city.

From the airport you have the choice of taking Aerobus number 91 to Cais do Sodré and exit at Restauradores. (cost 3,50€ takes between 30-45 minutes andleaves every 20 minutes between 0740-2045, 30 minute intervals after  ).
Goodmorning Hostel is at the door step.

Take the Metro’s red line to São Sebastião, then change to the blue line in the direction of Santa Apolónia and leave at Restauradores. (cost 1,25€). 
Goodmorning Hostel is a 3 minute walk away.



Goodmorning Lisbon

Praça dos Restauradores, n. 65, 2nd floor, 1250-188 Lisbon

Telephone numbers: + 351 213 421 128

Email: [email protected].

Fact box

Room in a 10 bedroom room costs just 14 euros going upto 60 euros for a double en-suite room. Book at