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One of the first questions to consider while planning a trip is “Where do we stay?” Two popular choices are a hotel or a hostel. The more inexpensive of the two is to reside in a hostel.
Hostels provide budget oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen.
Hostels are generally cheaper for both the operator and the occupants; many hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk clerks or housekeeping staff in exchange for free accommodation.
The main difference between hostels and hotels is that hostels provide dormitory-like settings in which to stay, whereas hotels are individual rooms for more privacy and safety.
If you are a social being, a hostel would be beneficial as you would be able to meet all sorts of interesting people. Hostels are, for the most part, safe places to stay, as long as you keep your valuables in a locker and stay on your toes. If you are on a tight budget, a good way to save money is to choose a location outside of the city.
You can stay in some pretty weird places around the world. If you are looking for a unique accommodation for your next trip, here are ten cheap and unusual hotels to get you inspired…
1. Arkabarka Floating Hostel, Belgrade, Serbia
A hostel floating on the Danube, surrounded by beautiful parkland, overlooking a fortress? Did Arkabarka get dreamed into existence, or what? The fortress in question is Belgrade Fortress in Kalemegdan Park, which has stood in some form on the site since the 4th century.
Serbian capital Belgrade is a pleasant 20-minute walk away, but there’s ample fun to be had on-site too, from hanging out in the café to rollerblading in Usce Park to river boat tours.
2. Santos Express Train Lodge, Mossel Bay, South Africa
For real romantic kicks, stay in a cabin on a working train parked at the idyllic Mossel Bay on South Africa’s Garden Route.
It’s not just about novelty, though: a beach bar/restaurant serves excellent steak and seafood, and you can watch whales and dolphins swim by in season. If you want to head inland and explore the beautiful Garden route, an off-road tour of the Outeniqua Mountains is a must.
3. Adventure in the Meadow, Edinburgh, Scotland
20 minutes’ drive from Edinburgh, Kirkhill Mansion provides a rather special camp site on its rolling estate. ‘Kocoon’ cabins let you sleep under the stars in style, and surroundings are breathtakingly beautiful – this is lovely for a wild escape with a glam edge. There’s even a Jacuzzi! Full Scottish breakfasts are provided in the mansion’s grand dining room.
4. Anak Ranch of Mongolia, Mongolia
At Anak Ranch, you live on a working ranch, eat home-grown food, learn to “drink vodka the Mongolian way” and sleep in a traditional Mongolian nomads’ ger – sign us up! There’s plenty to year-round in this amazing wilderness landscape, including horse riding, hiking and fishing in the Orkhon River.
5. Surf Hostal Backpackers, Pichilemu, Chile
Like surfing, like buildings shaped like boats? You’ll love this eccentric little hostel in Pichilemu, where the breaks are smooth and the vibe’s alluringly quirky.
There are incredible views of La Puntilla and Infiernillo beaches from dorm rooms, and the hostel has a common room and kitchen for hanging out with other surf dudes/dudettes.
6. Monastery Hostel, Milan, Italy
Luckily, you don’t have to swear a vow of silence at Milan’s Monastery Hostel – just enjoy the tranquil vibe at this converted wing of the Franciscan Friars Convent.
If you fancy getting out and about, you’re well-placed in the centre of Milan’s bustling Fashion District, and a two-block walk from the Duomo. Air-conditioned rooms have Wi-Fi and private bathrooms.
7. Zhangzhou Wei Qun Lou Inn, Zhangzhou, China
Recreating the look of a traditional 19th-century roundhouse, Zhangzhou Wei Qun Lou Inn provides a fascinating glimpse into China’s past, especially with its courtyards lit up with hundreds of red lanterns by night. And, despite the historic feel, you still have Wi-Fi, toiletries to use and a modern restaurant to make use of.
8. Aydinli Cave Hotel, Cappadocia, Turkey
Set in one of the rock-cut cave dwellings for which Cappadocia is famous, Aydinli Cave Hotel is at once luxurious and simple. Eat breakfast on the terrace overlooking the local village and Cappadocia’s breath-taking lunar landscape, or retire to your bathroom for a Jacuzzi soak. Take a hot air balloon tour to get a real look at the area’s amazing rock formations.
9. Jumbo Stay, Stockholm, Sweden
Fed up of trying to sleep long-haul in economy? Switch that unforgiving headrest for a swanky bed in the cockpit of this converted Boeing 747-200, which is parked outside Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport. Rooms have flat screen TVs and Wi-Fi, plus there’s a jumbo café – luckily, plane meals are off the menu.
10. Jailhotel Löwengraben, Lucerne, Switzerland
This 19th-century jail in Lucerne was shut down in the late 90s, to be reopened as a hostel with a few gaol touches still intact. Sleep in one of the ‘unplugged’ rooms, converted from cells, or go for a fancier option and bed down in the old library or director’s office.
Rooms don’t have TVs or phones, but you can let off some steam in the nightclub Strichpunkt, which shares space within the building and opens on weekends.