Thursday, November 03, 2011

Why budget accommodation in Warsaw beats a five-star hotel

Let me first answer the question of the title of this post: budget accommodation beats a five-star hotel in Warsaw for many reasons, but not least of which is the fact that this place makes for a much more interesting blog post than a fancy spa and sheets with a high thread count. Well, at least in my opinion.

I came across these photos while writing up a piece on Warsaw and was instantly transported back to the week I spent in the Polish capital shortly after my Trans-Siberian journey. It was summer, although you would barely know it from the weather because this rainy photo is pretty typical of my Warsaw memories. Given that I was travelling for several months in between teaching jobs, the budget was, well, at a very budget level and accommodation was picked simply by choosing the cheapest available. At the time, it was the Majawa Hotel and Campsite - have a click over to Majawa's website because it is worth it to look at the moving clouds, sun rays and occasional birds flying over!

My travelling partner and I stayed in this bungalow. It was tiny inside (much tinier than this picture makes it appear) and for me, the most memorable feature was a light globe of such low wattage that I was literally unable to read a book at night. I guess the positive side of this was early nights, plenty of sleep and lots of energy for exploring Warsaw during the day. I also had plenty of cash left over to enjoy the city and its tasty food.

Despite spending so much time travelling, I can count on one hand the number of times I've stayed in even vaguely "posh" hotels. Unless somebody else is paying for it (and even then, I'd still rather pick somewhere more interesting) I am all for staying somewhere mid-range or budget, a place that probably has a bit more local character than a big chain luxury hotel, and where I'm more likely to meet some interesting locals and some interesting fellow travellers. And yes, I even enjoy camping - a tenting trip through Croatia is still one of my favourites - I can still remember lying in the tent in a beautiful green Croatian field feeling rather pleased to be close to nature.

Is it just me? Luxury or non-luxury - what's your preference? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. It's funny, I should probably think the same as you because I am also very bored with chain hotels, whether luxury or not. But I don't judge them that way. I prefer hotels that are welcoming whatever star they are. It makes me miserable to return to somewhere that's cold, damp, indifferent or you can't see. (Mind you some quite expensive places have dim lighting and I hate them whatever the price, likewise the ones with dull decor and standard breakfasts)

    For me it's not the luxury or not which matters. Among my favourite places to stay was the Aldstadt in Vienna partly because of thewelcoming salon where you could go at any time and drink tea and read the papers - it wouldn't have mattered to me in the summer but in the freezing snowy winter it made the place feel like home. The rooms also had fascinating decor, I don't know if they still do because that was about 5 years ago. That was far from cheap. OTOH I fondly remember a very rural (and dead cheap) Greek b&b where a dog and cat also lived in my room, and there was only cold water.

  2. I think it depends on the purpose of your trip. When my wife and I travel we prefer budget/mid-range (I don't want to see roaches or mold). They are far more interersting and definitely provide a more local flavor. You are also more likely to encounter others that aren't American or at least not the kind of Americans I would prefer not travel around.

    OTOH, if we are going somewhere for a romantic weekend, a 5 star resort with jacuzzi and spa is more in order. :)

  3. @Jenny - yes, makes sense, perhaps it is not the luxury/non-luxury that matters so much as it being an interesting, comfortable place to stay.

    @Cary - yes, good point on the romantic weekend! Although I must admit that on our honeymoon we stayed in a YMCA! (a separate room of our own though, of course!)

  4. That really make sense! I can go anywhere wherever my wife wants to go with or without luxury. Thanks for the share!

  5. Am certainly looking forward to reading more adventures of my new life here.

    What a great space. So casual and relaxed! It looks so inviting and comfortable. Thanks for sharing.


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