By Cordelia Solomon
Like finding the best flights, picking the right accommodations can be a challenge. With so many options that cater to different travel experiences, choosing the perfect place can feel like a daunting task. Before you start your search, it’s important to know two things: 1) how much you want to spend and 2) what experience you’re looking for.
Location, Location, Location
Being well connected to your locale, by public transport or foot, will lessen the amount of time you spend in transit and improve your overall trip experience. Most destinations have a number of great neighborhoods to choose from, each with its unique charm and ambiance, so understanding what vibe fits your travel needs best is key in narrowing down the field.
For the budget traveler...
Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to stay in a one-star hotel. Airbnb, an online marketplace for short-term lodging, offers the option of renting a private room within a home. While going this route may provide you less privacy it will also cost you significantly less per night than if you were to get an entire place to yourself, something to consider when traveling on a tighter budget.
Despite garnering a certain reputation, hostels can be another great option when you don’t want to spend a lot. They offer accommodations that fit the needs of all types of travelers from communal bunks to smaller shares (2-6 people) and even private rooms. Depending on where you are, hostels can actually feel more like a hotel with amenities like internet, a pool and bars. And, sites like hostelworld provide user reviews, photos, overall star rating, and a list of amenities for every listing making it easier for you to find the right hostel for you.
If you prefer staying in a hotel, we recommend using deal comparison sites like Hotels.com and Bookings.com. Both offer a wide range of accommodations from large chains to boutique hotels to even small, family run guest houses and B&Bs. Other benefits include no hidden fees, free cancellations, and price match guaranteed. They also have member rewards programs where you earn a free night for every 10 nights you book--not too shabby!
For the “local” traveler...
If you’re the type of traveler that likes to feel more like a local than a tourist then your best bet is renting an apartment in a residential neighborhood. In most places, this will still puts you in a very central location.
Airbnb is again a great platform to leverage in this scenario as well. Using filters, you can narrow down your search by setting your travel dates and prioritize the things that are most important to you, including amenities, nearby public transportation lines, and nightly rates. Another cool benefit of Airbnb is that because it doesn't own any of its listings, you’re directly renting from and communicating with the property host; a local who can give you suggestions for a more immersive and authentic experience.
For a fully immersive experience there’s Homestay, an online platform that connects travelers with families that have a spare room to rent. Choosing the homestay route has pros and cons. While you certainly can do whatever you want, it's common to spend more time with your host family, from enjoying meals together to joining them in their cultural traditions. This is a really special experience that every traveler should try at least once -- it gives you a deeper, more authentic understanding of a culture surfacing not just your differences, but also your similarities. By meeting and spending meaningful time with host families, you’re able to appreciate them as individuals within a larger culture and maybe even shift your perspective.
For the luxurious traveler...
While 5-star hotel brands can be found in most destinations there are also plenty of other options available that not only tick the luxury box but also provide more unique experiences.
Boutique hotels offer intimate, upscale lodging in non-traditional settings from historic buildings to abandoned warehouses to even old fire stations. To add to their charm, each one has an individual personality, usually inspired by the neighborhood and culture in which their located. And because they only accommodate a small number of guests at a time, they have a keen focus on providing personalized experiences to every one. We recommend using i-escape to find some of the coolest boutiques around the world.
RentaVilla.com is a great platform for finding the best of the best home rentals. They offer a range of properties that can accommodate groups of any size, are family friendly, and all have one, or more, special perk--a pool, breathtaking views, unbeatable location etc. And, if you want something especially unique there’s gounsual, a website that promotes a “life less ordinary” with accommodations from treehouses to igloos to even underwater rooms and caves.