Five options for cutting hotel costs on your Europe vacation - Page 2

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on September 25, 2003. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Europe, hotel, Italy, London, Molly Feltner, Spain.

There are many online resources for finding European B&Bs, including several with Europe-wide listings such as,, and the International Bed and Breakfast Pages. For country- and region-specific B&B websites, start with a Google search by entering the name of the area you're visiting with the words "B&B" or "bed and breakfast" into the search box.

Farm stays


If you plan to travel outside of the big cities in Europe and are looking for a unique but affordable type of accommodation, a farm stay may be for you. Part of the growing trend of "agri-tourism" (any sort of tourism focused on farming and agriculture), farm stays involve staying overnight in a farmhouse or other building on a working farm, orchard, or vineyard. Staying at a farm is a great way to get a "hands-on" cultural experience, and you'll pay a lot less on average than you would staying at a hotel.

Farmers supplement their income by inviting overnight guests to stay on their property, and travelers are often treated to fresh, home-cooked meals and may even be invited to participate in farm activities like harvesting. Cooking lessons and other demonstrations are also commonly offered. Farm stays can vary greatly in operation. Some work very much like B&Bs, charging a nightly per-person rate for a room and breakfast, while others work more like vacation rentals, with guests paying a flat weekly fee for a separate multi-roomed house or apartment on the farm. You can find farm stays all over Europe, but they are especially popular in Italy, Spain, and the U.K.

Travelers staying in a region for a week or more may find that a farm stay is one of the most economical choices for accommodation in the area. To illustrate this point, we compared prices of farm stays and hotels for weeklong vacations (six nights) for two people in Grenada, Spain:

Farm stay Farm stay rate (per week) Hotel Hotel rate (per week)
Casa Delia $138 Los Angeles Hotel $362
L'Atelier Guesthouse $246 Luna Arabial Hotel $398
Cortijo de Montana $331 Corona de Granada Hotel $405

These prices are based on double occupancy for stays in October. Farm stay rates were found on, and hotel rates were found on

The website has listings for farm stays on organic farms all over Europe, which are searchable by country. We found farm stay websites for individual countries as well, including Denmark, Germany, Italy, and the U.K.


Visit Europe during the peak tourist seasons (summer and the December holidays), and you'll find hotel rates at their highest of the year and affordable rooms scarce. However, the peak tourist seasons also coincide with student breaks at universities. During these periods, colleges and universities open student housing to travelers, charging room rates that are lower than most hotels.

Universities in many European countries offer some type of traveler accommodations, but you'll find the most offerings in the U.K., with scores of options in England, Scotland, and Wales. Each university's offerings are different, and options range from fully-furnished single or double dorm rooms with shared bathrooms, to self-contained flats. Many universities offer breakfast and other meals, and access to facilities like gyms.

To see how the dorm rates stacked up against hotel rates, we compared the nightly rates for double rooms at London universities with hotel rooms in London during the summer:

Dorm Dorm rate Hotel Hotel rate
London School of Economics $63 Enterprise Hotel $110
King's College $72 Barkston Gardens Hotel $132
City University $99 Park International Hotel $155

Rates do not include all taxes and fees. Dorm rates were found on , and hotel rates were found on Expedia.

A company called Venuemasters represents 66 universities in England, Scotland, and Wales that offer accommodations for individuals and families. From its website, you can link directly to each university's traveler accommodations page. For dorm accommodations in Dublin, Ireland, visit the accommodation website for Trinity College Dublin. For university rooms in other European countries, you'll have to contact universities directly or visit their websites to see if rooms are available. Visit for links to European university websites, listed by country.

Vacation Rentals

If you want to explore a certain region in Europe with your family or a group of four or more people for a week or longer, renting a vacation home, apartment, or condo may be the cheapest and most comfortable option. And, vacation rentals can be found pretty much anywhere you want to visit in Europe.

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