If you stay in enough mid-priced hotels, they all begin to blur into variations of a theme. I don’t really understand loyalty about hotel brands. But I will never forget the times I’ve slept on a boat, or camped, or stayed anywhere unusual. And because of the work I do, I’ve spent far too many nights on cots or camped out on the floors of church basements. Granted, that doesn’t appeal to everyone, either.
That said, reliability, cleanliness, and comfort are important when you have a limited amount of time and have work to do.
I use Hotels.com or Hotwire to book rooms for a work trip. Hotels.com has a good search engine that allows you to search for comparable places in a particular neighborhood or city. Their Welcome Rewards program grants you one free night after staying ten nights at a comparably priced hotel. In my experience, they have miserable customer service; their drones will just read you a script when something goes wrong. Hotwire lets you book unidentified hotels that are grouped by a star ranking system. For example, their 3-star hotels include: Four Points by Sheraton, Radisson Hotels & Resorts, Wingate Inns by Wyndham, Embassy Suites Hotels, Holiday Inn Express Hotels, or Staybridge Suites. The name of the hotel is revealed when you book the room. You can generally save $10-25 a night for a hotel in this price range. Ultimately, it seems like it’s a matter of whether you want to delay gratification and get a free room sometime down the road, or save right now. I often learn more about a particular hotel through guest reviews than I do in the listings, so take a minute to scan them.
If you want to go the Spartan route, meet other travelers, and share a bathroom, Hostelworld.com lists hostels and has reviews posted by guests, who are ranked by their experience traveling.
On Airbnb, you pay less than a hotel to stay in someone’s house or apartment, but generally have more privacy. Some people run it like a true B&B and serve breakfast in the morning. I like this option because I’m curious about how people live and might be up for company. Increasingly, I use it when I travel for work. For the nights when I need to prep for a presentation, I stick with a hotel.
If you want to stay at someone’s house or apartment for free, try Couchsurfing. Accommodations vary, and generally involve sleeping on a sofa or an air mattress in a common area. Stay with someone with good references and positive feedback.
There really are options for every budget!