Eight Hotel Alternatives to Spice up Your Holiday

With these alternatives to hotels you can experience true local culture, literally in your sleep. In addition to saving a substantial amount of money, these options will add new dimensions to your travel experience. Today we will cover eight replacements for standard hotel accommodation that include familiar couch surfing and hostels, less familiar cabin rentals, and everything in between.



If you think of youth, partying, and multiple bunkbeds in a crowded room when you hear the word hostel, you have quite an outdated picture in mind. Modern hostels have become an affordable option that provides quality accommodation to people of all ages. With breakfasts included and room upgrades available, hostels offer the comfort of a hotel at a fraction of the cost.

Hostel accomodation
Hostel accomodation

Some hostel chains provide membership to their frequent guests which allow travellers to receive discounts on stays in any of the chain’s locations. For example, Youth Hostel Association (YHA) in England and Wales provides its members with a 10% discount at over 150 hostels across the region. Similar organizations exist in New Zealand, Australia, and Taiwan and other countries. Such YHAs are members of Hostelling International, a global not-for-profit federation that aims to help youth with limited means to travel the world. The official website allows you to get an e-membership for all branches or choose a specific local YHA organization.


Home rentals

If you prefer cooking in a full-sized kitchen while on vacation, home rental websites such as Airbnb, FlipKey, and HomeAway will provide you with a plethora of options to choose from. You can opt for renting an apartment, a room, a bed, or a house. Some gems include living in a castle, renting a dome house, or getting away from everyday routine in a remote hut.

Airbnb accomodation
Airbnb accomodation

In addition to cheaper prices and options that will suit any taste, rental websites offer substantial discounts for stays longer than one week and one month. However, keep in mind that additional costs can be charged for cleaning and in case you arrive earlier or leave later than planned.


Couch Surfing

If you prefer the comfort of a home but would rather bring the host a little something than pay for the accommodation, then couch surfing is for you. Founded in 2004, the CouchSurfing service connects travelers with hosts who are willing to accommodate guests for free.  Starting in May 2020, the website has implemented a monthly fee of $2.99 or an annual fee of $17.99 to help cover administrative costs in the midst of the pandemic.

Couch surfing
Couch surfing

General safety tips regarding how to use of the website include researching the area of stay in advance, communicating with the host before exchanging personal information, and having a backup plan in case you feel unsafe. The website strongly encourages couchsurfers to leave reviews of hosts and flag any inappropriate behaviour to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the users.

Some other alternatives to couch surfing include TrustRoots and WarmShowers that specifically host cyclists.



True outdoor lovers can now search for numerous camping locations around Europe and worldwide on a number of listing websites. Platforms like EuroCamp and CampingEurope offer a wide selection of locations for both amateur and experienced campers. Tourists can rent a pitch for as little as $15 per night. Some locations support stays in motorhomes, caravans, or old-school tents and cars. Whether you’d like to have breakfast included or expect a laundry room and facilities to be available, these websites have it all.


It is important, however, to be wary of the typical hazards associated with living outdoors. General safety rules are using a repellent to avoid being bitten by ticks and mosquitos, following suggestions when starting a campfire, abstaining from feeding wild animals to avoid the Rabies virus, and, and above all, not bringing fuel burning appliances inside your tent to prevent possible carbon monoxide poisoning.


Halls of Residence and Dormitories

Dorm room
Dorm room

Did you know you could rent a college room while on vacation? UniversityRooms is a platform that lists available rooms at universities across Europe, Asia, and Australia. The accommodation ranges from ensuite single and twin rooms to B&Bs and self-catering rooms with common kitchen facilities to prepare meals. In case guests would like to rent several rooms, service providers may assist in ensuring those rooms are adjacent to each other. Depending on the country, prices may reach $60-120 per night, which is equivalent to a week’s rent. So, as an alternative to renting a dorm room short-term, it might be worth contacting friends who already rent a place long-term and crashing on their couch.


Cabin Rentals

In the midst of self-isolation and restricted travel policies, having a summer house in the middle of nowhere sounds super alluring to recharge the batteries and get closer to nature. However, it’s no problem if you don’t own such a property as websites like Nature House and Glamping Hub have plenty of options to choose from. Platforms list numerous cabins and huts in places across Europe, the USA, and Russia for prices as low as $15 per night for a house that accommodates six people.

Cabin rental
Cabin rental

With smart search options, you can find a perfect match for a flexible arrival and look for properties with WiFi or swimming pool available.  You can even pick your accommodation based on a theme – properties located in the woods, near the sea, by a river, or in the middle of nowhere. For an eco-friendly holiday, platforms also feature sustainable properties.

If you like solitude and would like to experience the zen of a remote location, then religious housing may be an option for you.


Religious Housing


Wouldn’t it be nice to clear your thoughts and enjoy an alternative way of living? It might come as a surprise, but many monasteries and churches across Europe offer accommodation ranging from communal halls to private rooms. Platforms like Monastery Stays and Host Unusual list available rooms in chapels and religious sites in the UK and across the world. Some places offer quirky communal living with a slide instead of stairs while other lean more towards a more traditional accommodation. Many options offer communal dining areas where tourists can join sisters and other members of staff while enjoying a meal. Certain places may be available only to female or male guests, which needs to be taken into consideration before booking.


Overnight Transportation

Overnight buses and trains allow you to save time and money when travelling to your next destination. Provided you load up on snacks, warm clothes, and entertainment, and pick a reclining seat, you can make your journey as comfortable as it can get. Fares typically start at $10-20 and include onboard WiFi for which you may need to download the coach’s official app. Some of the popular bus companies like Megabus, EuroLines, and Flixbus provide low cost tickets for trips arranged in advance.

Sleeper bus
Sleeper bus

Overnight trains are also an option for those who prefer to travel in comfort. The UK’s Caledonian Sleeper, connecting England and Scotland, provides overnight tickets starting at $50. Similarly, EURail connects cities through nine-to-seventeen hour long rides for as little as €3 for a seat or up to €80 for a sleeper.

Whether you’d like to remain stationary or experience life at a different angle, changing up your preferred accommodation choices may add a few stories to the bank of your anecdotes.

Photos: Shutterstock

More articles on Travel and Volunteering here:

Join the Yacht Crew – Sailing Positions!

Environmental Volunteering: Seven Funded Opportunities


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