A hotel may be your first choice when looking for a place to stay while on vacation but should it be?
I’ve stayed in a wide range of unique stays from convents to apartments. Take it from me when I say you shouldn’t be staying at a hotel if you want to save money!
Of course there are those hotels that are so charming that you can’t pass up but once you get a peak at their rates it’ll probably scare you away. If you can afford it great! If you think it is worth it then I say go for it! But for those of us on a budget we need to think outside of the box.
1. Done Orione Artigianelli Cultural Centre, Venice: That Time I Stayed at a Monastery (& I am not religious)
The morality of me staying in a monastery despite my, let’s say open mindedness, may be questionable for some but that’s another post. And at these prices, Mary and Joseph wouldn’t have passed them up either. If you want charm this place has it. The rooms are spacious, breakfast is included each morning if you can stomach the religious talk before your morning cappuccino, and the monastery has a peaceful courtyard to write, contemplate the meaning of life or get a nice tan as you read. The Cultural Centre is also connected to the Santa Maria del Rosario church and is practically devoid of tourists in the Dorsoduro sestiere.
Pricing for Don Orione:
78€ – 96€ for single per night
134€ – 168€ for double per night
170€ – 210€ for 3 beds per night
196€ – 252€ for 4 beds per night
2. All Over the World: Apartments/Town Houses/Mansions/Treehouses etc.
With websites like GowithOh you can arrange a place to stay in over 20 European cities enabling you to live like a local and try to cook like one too.
AirBnB is also a great way to rent an entire home/apartment, single room or a basement suite anywhere in the world at someone’s home without paying hotel prices.
Pricing depends on your budget and can be as low as $50 per night to $10,000+ per week.
3. Verona & Elsewhere: College & Universities
Another way to save on money is to stay at a college or university. In my case I stayed at a sort of religious college mixed with a monastery. It was something very new to me. The summer students were Italian guys in their twenties, extremely religious, very flirtatious and not fantastic cooks. We shared a kitchen with the locals, were taken to unique spots within the city and even celebrated a couple birthdays with them. There was a Don who monitored the interaction between Canadian girls immodestly dressed for summer and good Italian boys who he made sure didn’t cross any lines within the confines of his domain.
Although, we did learn a while later over a game of Never Have I Ever in broken English/Italian that the boys had ways of sneaking girls into their rooms late at night. I wonder if they take the cross down above their beds while doing the deed? Anyways, it was a very unique experience staying at this religious college or whatever it was with a group of hormonal girls in their twenties looking to see if what happens in Italy stays in Italy….as long as the Don is sleeping.
Pricing for Don Bosco:
Prices are approximate
Around 44€ for single per night
75€ for double per night
88€ for triple per night
4. Think Big for a Big Group: Stay in a Castle!
I had the privilege to stay at the Bansha Castle in Bansha, Ireland for BlogHouse Ireland in October of 2013. The castle provided a charming kitchen, dinning room where all our lecture took place, a living room with a fireplace for us all to lounge into the late evenings, and an outdoor seating space for cigars to be smoked and beers to be drank.
The castle was perfectly located in the village of Bansha where a classic Irish pub called Nelly’s was run by the lovely lady herself.
If you’re like me and have an odd interest in graveyards you can also take a stroll over to the local cemetery where I found some very moving and eerie Celtic gravestones.
2 night stay minimum €1500
3 night stay €1800
1 week stay €2995 self catering
5. AirBnB All The Way
Websites like AirBnB and VRBO are very commonplace today. I’ve stayed in some of the most unique apartments and homes from Hawaii to Scotland. As long as you read the previous reviews, have good communication with the host and fully read the entire listing you can ensure that your stay will be a successful one.
Here in the Okanagan a growing trend is wineries offering their vineyard grounds for you to stay. Some are even purchasing grand homes with sprawling views of the Okanagan lake and offering them up for large groups or exclusive to special guests of which there has been many in recent years (the royals, musicians and more).