It's long overdue, but A. has written this round-up of all the places we slept in during our backpacking trip through Germany, the Czech Republic, France, Spain, and Italy. Some were wonderful splurges and others were cheap as hell, but they all gave us some interesting stories to tell. I was just excited to check out different hotels, get over my fear of staying in a stranger's home, and see what it'd be like to sleep during an overnight train ride into Paris. I'll chime in with some thoughts and answer any questions in the comments section.
In order to keep the trip costs down during our 23-day European vacation, we tried a variety of different lodgings. We tested out a couple Airbnb offerings, stayed in some cheap hotels, went totally budget with shared rooms in hostels and treated ourselves to a couple nice stays along the way. Here is a brief rundown of everywhere we stayed:
Hüttenpalast Hotel, Berlin, Germany
I wasn’t sure how to explain what this hotel was. On my Facebook status, I described it as treehouse + trailer park + warehouse + tea party. While this hotel had regular rooms, Dorkys wanted to try their more exotic offerings. The experience was a lot like indoor camping; a very large eccentrically decorated room contained a variety of vintage trailers and wooden cabins. We slept in one of the cabins that was just large enough to fit a double bed. The bathroom was shared.
Pros: Clean, quirky, friendly, the bar a couple doors down was a cool locals joint
Cons: Everyone can hear the noise you make, no airflow, it was slightly removed from the tourist part of town (this would be a pro if I were on this trip by myself)
Cost: $75 per night
Hobrechtstrasse 66; 49-030/3730-5806; huettenpalast.de
Michelberger Hotel, Berlin, Germany
We stayed in a room that wasn’t much larger than the one we had at Hüttenpalast, but at least this one had a shower, toilet, and sink mashed in there. The shower had a window so that anyone chilling on the double bed would have a nice show. Good way to force the issue with an unsuspecting travel partner. The vibe at the hotel was very social, with the charming common areas providing great places to meet other guests. There were several clubs, attractions, and restaurants within walking distance.
Pros: Clean, cool, social, close to the action.
Cons: The pillows felt like they were only filled by three cotton balls.
Cost: $83 per night
Warschauer Strasse 39/40; 49-30/2977-8590; michelbergerhotel.com
Jaeger's Hostel, Munich, Germany
After stepping into this hostel, I immediately felt very old. Music was playing and the bar stools were full. Our room had two bunk beds in it. We took one while a young backpacking couple from South Africa took the other. It wasn’t such a bad stay until our roommates were replaced by two South Korean boys who decided to wash their clothes in the sink, leaving the floor of the bathroom covered in water that smelled like industrial bleach. When we tried to clean our clothes the civilized way, the hostel’s dryer simply refused to do its job and they didn’t offer us a refund. We had to finish the job at a laundromat a few blocks away. Apparently doing laundry in Europe is expensive. One euro for 10 minutes of drying? Yeow!
Pros: Close to the train station, one free shot per person upon check-in.
Cons: It’s a hostel, the wifi didn’t penetrate into the rooms.
Cost: $28 per night per person
Senefelderstrasse 3; 49-089/555-281; jaegershotel.de
We justified this experience as just that, an experience, but we were actually just forced into sleeping on the train because the route we originally wanted was sold out. We slept in a compartment with six bunks, three on each side, and we took the top two. I was originally looking forward to the rocking motion of the train putting me to sleep, but by about the third hour of tossing, I was over it. It was hot and uncomfortable, and the train had a few stops along the way that interrupted what little sleep was possible. Realizing that you’re inadvertently leaning against a very removable railing that is barely preventing you from falling seven feet to the floor is also poor for sleep.
Pros: It's a story I get to tell in which I came close to death, but survived.
Cons: Did you not read?
Airbnb: Yassir H., Paris, France
Our first Airbnb experience was a good one; we stayed in a lovely one-bedroom apartment in Montmartre owned by a student. He gave us the bedroom and took the couch in the living room for himself. As luck would have it, he had to leave town for a few days while we were there, so we ended up with the whole place to ourselves. This proved to be convenient when I suddenly got sick and had to stay in bed an entire day.
Pros: Cheap, toned our calves and asses with the 7-floor walk-up.
Cons: Had to share the place with the owner for a couple nights, brand new towels left red lint all over privates.
Cost: $74 per night
Rue Damrémont; airbnb.com
Silken Diagonal Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
We decided to treat ourselves halfway through the trip, so we splurged on this snazzy hotel. The room was large, with a glass bathroom. As a cool perk, the hotel is situated right next door to one of Barcelona’s modern landmarks, the Torre Agbar, which we quickly took to calling “the dildo.” Though, to be honest, it looks more like a vibrator. Even more useful was the hotel’s proximity to Barcelona’s nude beach, Mar Bella, which in contrast to common nude beach reputation actually has a fair amount of attractive young people.
Pros: Very stylish.
Cons: Have to travel a bit to get to the touristy stuff.
Cost: About $165 per night.
Avenida Diagonal, 205; 34-934/895-300; hoteles-silken.com
Hostal Residencia Australia, Barcelona, Spain
This was a tiny 4-room hotel with a shared bathroom. In my defense, this was a last-minute booking. The proprietor, a native of Australia and Spanish guitar enthusiast, was fucking weird. He referred to the stuffed animal on the front desk as “Mr. Wombat” and, in the span of a few minutes, managed to refer to it several times as if it had its own personality and could actually tell me things if I directed my questions to it. Luckily, we only spent one night there before skipping town.
Pros: Really close to La Rambla and the Gothic quarter.
Cons: Mr. Wombat
Cost: $82 per night
Ronda de la Universitat 11; 34/933-174177; residenciaaustralia.com
Hotel Chanteclair, Cannes, France
The proprietor of this hotel is Danish and he decided to try something new, so he bought a shitty hotel in Cannes. To his credit, it looks like he’s been working at slowly improving it. Situated equidistant between the two notable beaches in this overpriced hive of rich people, it was a decent place to stay when you know that you’re paying a tiny fraction of what everyone else is to “enjoy” this culturally washed-out famous-because-it’s-famous former fishing village. The room was old and basic, with a shower stall and a sink, but a shared bathroom. Unfortunately, we were eaten alive by mosquitoes.
Pros: Steps from an open-air market, the stares from the rich people as they wonder how the hell you got there.
Cons: Mosquitoes! Arrrghhh!
Cost: $80 per night
12 rue Forville; 04-93/39-68-88
We expected a slightly better experience than Jaeger’s and we were right. The vibe of this place was much more sedated, despite having every inch of their corridor walls covered in writing from previous guests. If you have a thing for Korean women, stay here. While we shared our room with four others, everyone was quiet and respectful. The single best thing about this hostel was the free breakfast. I can’t tell you how much hassle it circumvents during budget travel to have your breakfast just handed to you. It just starts the day off right.
Pros: Free breakfast!
Cons: It’s still a hostel.
Cost: $35 per night per person
Via Faenza, 94r; 055/290-804; hostelarchirossi.com
Airbnb: Giuseppe A., Rome, Italy
We ran into our first trouble with Airbnb when we tried to check into the apartment and our host was nowhere to be found, nor did he pick up his phone. Standing out in the sweltering heat as we waited for him to show up was unpleasant, but once we got inside, it was a nice experience. My best analysis of the situation was that the host had recently moved to a new apartment and had kept his old one to rent out and make a few extra bucks. We ended up sharing the large apartment with a shy older couple from Norway.
Pros: At least checkout was easy.
Cons: No wifi, Rome sucks.
Cost: $81 per night
Via Giovanni Giolitti; airbnb.com
UPDATE: I've added my thoughts on each lodging in the comments below so be sure to check them out!