European Style for $17/Night! Hip Hostels to Open in Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Rome
Dreaming about visiting Europe this year? We have good news that might encourage you to hit that "book" button, especially if you're a solo traveler. Design-focused Generator, a line of chic, affordable European hostels, is opening three new locations in Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Rome, just in time for the peak season.
Millennials especially dig this brand—with locations in trendy neighborhoods in Paris, Barcelona, Dublin, and Berlin, to name a few—and the way each property blends local culture, art, events, music, and food with interactive guest experiences, a.k.a. getting to know your fellow travelers instead of just passing them in the hallways.
Read on for details about each new location. Which will you visit first?
When it's opening: March 16
What it'll cost: From about $17 for a dorm bed in a shared room, $72 for a private room, $111 for a luxury suite
Where it's located: In the uber-hip East Amsterdam 'hood, right next to the newly renovated Oosterpark.
Cool perks: It will be the only upscale hostel in the city. Housed in an historical building built in 1908 as the University of Amsterdam’s science department, the hostel is celebrating its DNA by keeping the lecture hall and science lab aesthetics while giving the space a modern twist. The main common space, named Nescio after a famous Dutch writer, has a café with locally-sourced dishes that’s open daily for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner; a day-to-night lounge that was once an auditorium, with the professor’s desk serving as the bar; and a library with shelves filled with bright orange books and wood heritage accents intact to impress Ron Burgundy.
Activities like beer tastings, coffee master classes, Vanmoof bikes, and movie screenings keep guests busy, and for those who want to splurge, there’s a luxury Sky Suite Apartment with views of Oosterpark and two bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, and TV. Later this year they’ll open an underground speakeasy bar in the former boiler room.
When it's opening: June 2016
What it'll cost: From about $24 for a dorm bed in a shared room, $77 for a private room
Where it's located: Just a five-minute walk from Drottninggatan, a must-walk street dating back to the 1600s. The pedestrian boulevard is lined with boutiques and restaurants running through downtown Stockholm. It’s also close to Central Station.
Cool perks: This is a large property, with 11 floors and 244 rooms and a lobby café that doubles as a work space. The bar and restaurant offer both Swedish and international eats. For those traveling with a group or staying longer, luxury suites are available.
When it's opening: Summer 2016
What it'll cost: From about $20 for a dorm bed in a shared room, $77 for a private room
Where it's located: In the heart of the Eternal City, on Via Principe Amedeo near the Mercato dell’Esquilino, the bustling market famed for its fresh international produce. The 78-room property is also close to many prime attractions, including the Roman Colosseum.
Cool perks: Mangia at the industrial-style Bistro, or take in views of the Apennine Mountains while you're perched up in the rooftop lounge, seven stories above the city.
6 Unbeatable Spring Hotel Deals
There's no better way to shake off a long winter than taking a spring trip. Plus, springtime is shoulder season, which means your wanderlust dreams can come true at slashed prices, some with savings of more than 50 percent. Before the crowds descend for the summer, beat the rush—and the high-season surge pricing—with these six spots during the month of May. Sea Crest Beach Hotel: Cape Cod, Massachusetts The deal: Score a room for $134 per night before the summer rates kick in, from $266, seacrestbeachhotel.com Why go: Think classic Cape: long walks on the hotel’s private Old Silver Beach, a spin on two wheels on the trails of Shining Sea Bikeway, and keeping the kids busy on rainy days at the indoor swimming pool. Nearby, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Marine Biological Laboratory and Nobska Lighthouse make for great educational excursions. Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort and Spa: Fort Lauderdale, Florida The deal: Rates drop as much as 38 percent to just $143 per night, marriott.com Why go: The boutique-style resort calls Pompano Beach home. The up-and-coming locale boasts some of Florida’s best diving, offering prime views of sea creatures, reefs, and wrecks. The nearby South Florida Diving Headquarters offers training for beginners, so it's ideal for all levels. After a dive, chow down and kick back with a craft cocktail at the property's Prohibition era–themed McCoy’s Oceanfront. Harbor View Hotel: Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts The deal: Snag a room for $159 per night, compared with $319 in the summer, harbor-view.com Why go: Join the storied property in celebrating its 125th anniversary. You’ll feel like an insider on Martha’s Vineyard before the summer crowds set in, since that’s when you can get the best access to the top beaches, boutiques, galleries, and restaurants, including the hotel’s new eatery, Lighthouse Grill, serving contemporary New England fare. 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel: Clayton, New York The deal: Rates start at $129 per night in May, which is 24 percent off the June rate, 1000islandsharborhotel.com Why go: A boater’s dream, the hotel is in the Thousand Islands region, right next to the newly completed 49-slip Transient Dock Facility. For a nautical adventure, charter a yacht for a private cruise down the St. Lawrence, or rent a fishing charter or boat. Once you’re back on dry land, the river village offers quaint shops, museums, vineyards, and plenty of outdoor activities to keep you entertained. Kelley House: Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts The deal: The typical $252 starting summer rate is slashed to $117 per night, kelley-house.com Why go: Location, location, location. Kelley House is tucked into an historic home right in the heart of Edgartown, one of the most elegant and charming towns in Martha’s Vineyard, and houses Wave Pool Bar, a hot spot on the island. Take a rental bike to explore, go golfing at one of the nearby clubs, or visit the Kelley House Gallery to see local artists' work. Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort and Spa: Palm Beach, Florida The deal: Prices drop up to 58 percent to $207 per night, palmbeachmarriottresort.com Why go: Private beach. Need we say more? The luxury all-suite resort features condo-style rooms with kitchens and a washer/dryer, so it’s perfect for families. While Mom and Dad are at the beach, at SiSpa, or relaxing poolside in a cabana, the little ones can have fun at the Kids Club. They also offer Parent’s Night Out on Fridays and Saturdays, with a long dinner at 3800 Ocean.
London: How staying near Paddington can make your trip better
In west central London, it's smart to stay in the quiet area near Paddington Station, which provides speedy access to the city's iconic destinations. Once gritty zones where the final drug deal in Trainspotting was filmed, the neighborhoods of Paddington and Bayswater have softened their edges to become a haven for value-priced hotels. Hotels here—unlike those downtown—are quiet and roomy, and most are inside white and black Victorian town houses that have been refurbished. Couples and families make up most of the guests in the local hotels—not business people with expense accounts or backpackers who make lots of noise late at night. Here's what to expect, plus four Budget Travel-recommended hotels: The location Lying on the north side of Hyde Park, it's a short walk from here to the famous clothing shops on Oxford Street. On weekends, it's easy to visit the famous Portobello Road market from here. Hop on the Tube (or subway) at Lancaster Gate station and go two stops to Notting Hill Gate station. Great access to transit Heathrow is the airport most Americans fly into, and the Heathrow Express rail service takes you nonstop to Paddington. Drop off your bags at your hotel a few blocks from the station, and then get on with your first day of exploring the city quickly—without paying for any pricey black cabs. Decent pubs In London, the pubs with the best ale and lager are usually owned by local breweries. Fullers is one London microbrewery with pubs around town, including two in this district: The Swan and Victoria. Cool kids' shop Be sure to buy a Paddington Bear, the famous character from the children's book series. Look for the kiosk on the eastern side of the station, close to the entrance to the train platforms under the station's cavernous roof (and just outside of the shopping concourse shrouded in glass), It costs £10, or about $16. You may also want to check out the statue nearby of Paddington. It's cute, and quite the contrast to the statues of generals seen elsewhere. Mediocre restaurants (sigh) Truth be told, this is not a food-centric part of town. Best to grab a breakfast to go at a small shop in or by Paddington Station, such as Marks & Spencer Simply Food, and set on about your day exploring the city. BUDGET TRAVEL'S RECOMMENDED HOTELS IN THIS AREA: Caring Hotel This newly refurbished Victorian town house is next to Hyde Park. From $108. The Gresham Hotel This Georgian town house is a great choice for families, given its unusually spacious top-floor rooms. From $108. The Caesar A modern 140-room retreat in west-central London with touches of antiquity. From $141. Darlington Hyde Park This traditional hotel near Kensington Gardens is known for its crisp, formal service. From $141.
London: 5 surprising essentials to see before you die
Visitors to London already know about its highlights. On your past trips, you probably soared to the top of the London Eye, gawked at the Queen's jewels at the Tower of London, and contemplated the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin marbles, and Van Gogh's sunflowers at the National Gallery. But what about the attractions haven't you heard of? You know, the ones that are affordable and truly worth seeing? After months of reflection, I'm tossing out my five picks. • Listen to a heavenly choir London's contributions to music and religious faith have been enormous over the centuries. Breathe it all in during a service at Westminster Cathedral. Even atheists will bliss out at the world-class choir, which sings during mass. Daily. For times, see westminstercathedral.org.uk. • Visit a haunted mansion For a city that's all about capital-H History, this is a spot where you can walk right into it: Dennis Severs' House is a little bit history, a little bit gallery, and a little bit kitschy. Somehow, it all works. Interiors are decorated in authentic eighteenth- and nineteenth-century furnishings. You are escorted through the rooms in silence by candlelight, listening and feeling for the presence of ghosts. dennissevershouse.co.uk, admission fee from £8, or $13. • See the classic art collection of a British eccentric London may be the art capital of the world, and the favorite museum of many Londoners is Sir John Soane's Museum. One of the founders of the British Museum, Soane collected many eccentric treasures, which are on display in his former home, including the sarcophagus of Egyptian king Seti I. The architecture and decoration varies wildly in this group of buildings, with one room crammed with Roman marble and miniatures while another is decorated like a Gothic monk's parlor. Located in Holborn (between the city's political and financial districts), the museum can be spun through in about an hour. free, soane.org. • Laugh into your beer at a comedy show London is the world capital of stand-up. Pick up a copy of Time Out London and catch one of the shows—which happen every night of the week in every part of downtown. Prices range from free to dirt cheap. With luck, you may see the world's next Ricky Gervais before he becomes a household name. timeout.com/london/comedy. • Roam the historical center's back streets after dark Many Americans are so afraid of getting lost that they never stray from the familiarity of central London's busy sidewalks. But the true charm of the British capital lies in its side streets and medieval pathways, which buzz with entrepreneurs and bristle with centuries-old architecture. After the sun goes down, the side streets look cinematic. So, be bold! Wander around the courtyards of the Inns of Court, the one-way streets in the district surrounding St. Paul's Cathedral, and the pedestrianized passageways off of Regent Street—such as Beak Street. For inspiration, pick up a guidebook with maps of self-guided walking. Still nervous? Then walk with in a small group with one of guides at the award-winning London Walks. walks.com, from £8, or $13. What is *your* pick for a lesser-known attraction that all visitors to London should see before they die? Please share your recommendation, below. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL London's top fish and chip shops How staying near Paddington can make your trip better London hotels: Want that towel? You have to pay $2.40
San Francisco: Sweet treats to try before you die
Local magazine 7X7 just released a list of San Francisco's 50 top sweet treats. In a food-obsessed city like this, it's a wonder the list is only at 50! Unlike other "try before you die" lists, one consisting only of dessert makes for an affordable, actionable pleasure. I'm sure your visit won't allow you to taste all 50 sugary confections (unless you're a real glutton), so let me point you toward my personal favorites that made the list: the spiced chocolate donuts from Dynamo Donut ($2-$3), the lemon cream tart at Tartine ($6.25), and, for a worthy splurge, the Italian-meringue frosted chocolate cake at Miette that serves six to eight people ($26). The list is a great new addition to 7x7s annual round-up of 100 dishes to try before you die, which is pasted like a to-do list on the fridges and bulletin boards of many locals. MORE ON SAN FRANCISCO 12 Things You Didn't Know About San Francisco 5 Best November Values 4 Indie Bookstores Worth a Visit