One of the best and most affordable ways to book accommodation in Europe

Once upon a time, hostels were the most affordable accommodation in Europe. And if you’re travelling solo, they usually still are. But if you’re traveling with even one other person, let alone more, hostels might not be the cheapest and they almost certainly won’t be the best value you’ll find anymore.

We’ve found private apartments, rented through (unfortunately the company recently went insolvent), to be an excellent experience and value. We’ve used the site for stays in Lisbon and Porto, Portugal and Budapest, Hungary. Particularly in Budapest, where Bell was traveling for work, we received a much better value in the center than anything else we could have found.

Update in 2019: Instead of only-apartments, use Airbnb. We’ve had plenty of good experiences with Airbnb. Use this link to save $40 off your first stay with Airbnb! Just make sure to book apartments with consistently good reviews.

Only Apartments - Budapest, Hungary, affordable accommodation in Europe
The kitchen in our apartment in the center of Budapest

For a decent hotel in the center we were looking at the equivalent of €70 per night ($95 US) booking online, which is outrageous for Hungary, a country where as a tourist you have to be careful not to get ripped off. The hotel for $95 was nothing special, there wasn’t even a mini fridge in the room. On only-apartments we found a huge apartment, off the main shopping street in the center, just a 5 minute walk from Bell’s conference for just €45 per night ($60 US).

The apartment had a full kitchen with a large modern refrigerator, washing machine, TV room, living room and bedroom. It was  far more comfortable staying there than a hotel for 6 nights. Aside from getting a way better deal, an added bonus of using only-apartments is that you are helping individuals rather than large corporations. The owner of the apartment was a retired engineer who had lost his job and at 60 years old, in a poor economy, he’ll be hard pressed to find another. Renting that apartment is probably now his sole source of income. That transaction was without a doubt mutually beneficially.

We also found great value in Lisbon, staying in a beautiful 2 bedroom family apartment with Bell’s mum along with us. The owner greeted us with hospitality, providing a carafe of home made liquor for us to enjoy. But he also shared maps, brochures and insights into the neighborhood and city to insure we had a great time. We could not have found better value in a hotel.

Bells mum on the couch of our Lisbon apartment, affordable accommodation in Europe
Bell’s mum on the couch of our Lisbon apartment

4 thoughts on “One of the best and most affordable ways to book accommodation in Europe

  1. I remember paying 18,000 Italian liras (9 euro) for a dinner in the most exclusive – luxury hotel in Budapest in 1991. It was just after communism’s fall, we were empty-pocketed high school students and yet we could afford a dinner in a place where not even middle-class local working adults could. Hungary’s today prices are much higher.
    Renting an apartment can be a very good deal, and it depends a lot on the country.

    1. That must have been pretty cool to visit back then! I was in Prague over a decade ago and the standard price for a pint of beer was 50 cents US. It was awesome! I was told that in 1991 that beer would have been 5 cents 🙂

      The prices in Hungary vary A LOT now. On average we were paying probably 2.50 euro a pint. But there were many places in the center that charged more, a few tourist traps charge far more. We found a cool hostel pub, open to everyone, where we enjoyed the atmosphere and were drinking pints for just over 1 euro which was a very sweet deal.

      We didn’t find eating in the center of Budapest to be super duper cheap, we’re sure elsewhere it still can be. But for 7-10 euro you can still get a nice meal in the center with good atmosphere, so not bad 🙂

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