I admit, in my fledgling globetrotting days I splurged on accommodations because I was afraid of landing in a low-budget nightmare. I realized some of the coolest places to stay in major cities were not only cheap; they also fostered a fun atmosphere I never found in high-brow establishments.
I save a bundle by using HostelBookers in Chicago and staying at the Days Inn Chicago in convenient Lincoln Park by the Miracle Mile and Wrigley Field. The clean, air-conditioned accommodations have big beds and computer desks with free Wi-Fi throughout the facility, complimentary breakfast and a self-service laundry. It’s an easy walk to Lake Michigan and the fabulous Lincoln Park Zoo.
The international flavor of the Petit Palace Londres appeals to me with its crisp, stylish rooms with hydro massage showers, cable TVs, mini-bars and free Wi-Fi. The friendly, English-speaking staff cheerfully rents bicycles so after my reasonably priced breakfast buffet served on the rooftop terrace I can explore nearby Puerta del Sol, Royal Palace and Gran Via at a leisurely pace.
Even though they allow pets, I find the bright, airy accommodations and private bathrooms at the Hotel Transit Loft are always clean and fresh. The free Continental breakfast is served till noon in their eclectic lounge/bar area with newspapers and Internet access. Around the corner is Volkspark, an awesome 13-acre green space and the charming neighborhood is linked to the Alexanderplatz transportation hub for quick access to Berlin’s highlights.
My favorite party-hardy launching point is the The Greenhouse Effect, situated by Amsterdam’s fabled red light district. This snazzy hotel/hostel has a righteous blend comfort and economy. I start my day at the coffee shop serving free breakfast and end it at their awesome in-house late-nightclub. In between, I explore the wharfs, walk to Dam Square or catch the train at nearby Central Station.
New York City
What I love about the Chelsea Star Hotel is that I can pick a room to match my budget de jour! When I’m slumming, I prefer the jazzy dorm rooms, but when it’s high-stepping time, I opt for the superior top floor rooms loaded with goodies. The helpful travel desk clues me in on events at Madison Square Garden right across a street.
I like to save my traveling money for an ample sampling of Paris’ delights, so the cozy Hôtel Kyriad Paris Porte d’Ivry has become my official “home away from home.” With clean rooms, friendly staff and a great location in a safe neighborhood, this economical hotel is just a5-minute walk to either the Pierre Curie and Port d’Ivry stations and even has secure private parking.
At my favorite Italian bed and breakfast, the Hotel Dream House Rome, I always feel like one of the family. Beautifully situated near the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and Spagna Plaza, this delightful hostel/hotel attracts fun-seeking tourist from all over the world so I meet the coolest people in the communal kitchen.
When I’m ready for some down-under outback atmosphere, the Claremont Guest House in Melbourne’s trendy South Yarra neighborhood fills the bill. The family-style charm of their simple, yet clean, rooms and ample Continental breakfast make it an ideal place to start off for an exploration of Melbourne’s delights either on foot, tram or train.
The budget-priced pleasures of the 13 Coins Airport Grand Resort, a 15-minute drive from the airport, makes this my base of operations when visiting Bangkok. I admit, between the free breakfast at the 24-7 restaurant, the in-house fitness center, the swimming pool and the sing-along bar with a pool table, it’s often hard to tear myself a way and take advantage of the nearby Huamark railway station to indulge in some spectacular Thailand sightseeing.