Hostels, Hotels, Guesthouses, Homestays or Apartments? Which should you choose while you’re travelling?

There was a time when hotels or villas were pretty much your only option while on holiday or travelling. We all accepted this and didn’t question if there were any other options available.

If you were travelling on a budget you have to stay in a hideous budget hotel and there was very little flexibility. These days we have so many accommodation options. In fact, we have so many it can be difficult to choose which is best!

Here are some of the best accommodation options while you’re travelling and why they might be a good option for you…


Best for: Solo Travellers + Budget Travellers

First things first, hostels aren’t always the budget option. Hostels are evolving and they’re quickly becoming a great option for the mid-market traveller. People, like me, who can’t always afford a luxury hotel but don’t want to stay in a boring budget hotel. I like boutique hotels that offer something different and quirky and this is exactly what these luxury hostels have.

Hostels used to be over-packed bedroom filled with bunk beds and smelly backpackers but can now be a boutique experience. Boutique hostels usually have private rooms as well as cheaper dorm rooms. There are communal areas where you can meet people (great for solo travellers) and also have some space away from the confines of your bedroom. They have fully equipped kitchens too so you can save money on your meals.

My favourite hostels are KEX in Iceland and Generator in London.

There are also the super budget hostels available where you’re sharing a room with up to 20 people. It’s great if you’re on a strict budget and you’ve got a good pair of ear plugs!

KEX hostel review


Best for: Luxury travel + Weekend Breaks

When it comes to hotels I often use the phrase, ‘Go big or go home!’ I don’t mean big in size, I mean big in features.

What’s the point in staying in a 2* hotel? It might be affordable but it’ll be horrible. It will be a cookie cutter hotel room with cream walls and views to another concrete block of a building. Every room looks the same, no matter where you are in the world.

If I’m staying in a hotel I want it to be luxurious. I want a swimming pool, breakfast in bed, fluffy pillows, a mini bar, an enormous bath, toiletries worth stealing and a huge robe and slippers.

If I can’t afford a luxury hotel then I’ll go for a more affordable accommodation option.

Metropolitan by COMO lobbyMetropolitan by Como in Miami


Best for: Long-term travel + families + groups

I love renting apartments when I travel. It’s great to have the extra space with a living room and the flexibility of a kitchen. When you’re travelling for a long time, it’s often nice to have a space to call home and feel more settled than you ever could in a hostel or hotel.

Apartments are much easier if you’re travelling with kids so you can cook for them and adults have somewhere to sit once the kids are asleep. If you’re travelling with a group of people, apartments are really affordable, especially if you’re prepared to squeeze a few extra people in.

Apartment rental Ljubljana

 Central Apartments in Ljubljana, Slovenia


Best for: An easier and more luxurious apartment experience

Apart’hotels are a new one for me. As the name suggests, they’re a combination of apartment style rooms with hotel features. You have the reception, the cleaners, newspapers, a gym, breakfast and sometimes room service like you would in a hotel but you have an apartment rather than just a single hotel room.

I’m a big fan of Citadines Apart’hotels after staying in lots of their properties last summer.

Citadines Suite Louve Paris  bedroomCitadines Suites Louvre Paris


Best for: Budget travellers and unique experiences

Guesthouses are most common in Asia and they’re usually small and budget friendly. They range from beach huts to small hotels, little bungalows or rooms in a person’s house like a B&B.

You can often barter with guest house owners over the price or at least get your breakfast included for free.

Time n Place bungalowTime ‘n’ Place beach huts in Jamaica


Best for: Local experiences

If you want to get a real feel for the local culture then you can opt for a homestay where you live in the house of a local family. You’ll have your meals with them and one member of the family will often take you under their wing and show you around.


Best for: Local experiences and budget travellers

Couchsurfing is a community website where you can seek out hosts and sleep on a person’s couch (or spare room if you’re lucky) absolutely free. Your host will usually show you around town and you’d be expected to hang out a bit rather than just use their place as a free crash pad.

This can be a great way to get to know the local area and many travellers swear by it.

Airbnb or private house rental

Best for: Budget travel, luxury travel, long term travel, groups, families and local experiences

Yes, private house rental is a great option for pretty much every type of traveller. Air bnb is the most popular website to find homes to rent but there are a lot of alternatives out there too. This is basically where you rent out a person’s home for the duration of your stay. The person may live abroad or go and stay with friends or family during the dates you’ve booked.

The houses are always clean, clutter free and relatively unpersonalised (it’s unlikely you’ll find family photos on the walls) but they do have a family home feel with everything you’d need.

You’ll find everything from tiny apartments to enormous and luxurious houses.

House sitting

Best for: Long term travel, flexible travel and budget travel

House sitting usually involves joining a community website and keeping your eyes peeled for the dream opportunity. It worked when a homeowner is going away and they’re looking for someone to stay in their house to look after it and possibly look after their pets and garden too.

It’s a win win situation because the homeowner doesn’t need to worry about their house and gets a free pet sitter, while the house sitter gets free accommodation and a friendly pooch to play with.


Which accommodation choice is your favourite while you’re travelling and do you have any other options to add to the list?


Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a professional blogger and has travelled around the world in search of stylish adventure travel.Monica has recently had a baby and is now determined to prove that travelling with a baby is possible!

SHOWHIDE Comments (14)
  1. I have become a huge fan of renting apartments in the last couple of years. I find that you not only have much more space but helps save on money, big time. Apartments in touristy areas can actually be cheaper (and nicer) than hotel rooms. Plus, you can save money on cooking most of your meals yourself. When I’m planning on staying in a city for more than a week I always look into getting an apartment. So far I’ve had such great experiences in places like the Philippines and Colombia 🙂

  2. I used to be a luxury hotel and boutique hotel kind of girl, but lately I’ve really enjoyed Air B ‘n’ B – staying in apartments really gives you a feel for the area, the culture, plus I love nosying around people’s places! Can’t beat a good ol’ apartment for the personal factor x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

  3. I love Airbnb but I think saying the apartments are always clutter-free is a bit optimistic! I think it depends very much on the host you rent from. If they are going it as a commercial thing, the apartments don’t have clutter but if someone is planning to be away for a while and renting their place out, it can vary.

    I stayed at one place where the guy worked weekends away so rented out his flat and it was definitely like staying in someone else’s apartment (but, hey, it was super cheap).

  4. There really are so many choices when you put them together. I’ve always been a fan of more quirky places to stay – converted buildings, boutique hotels and love the idea of home stays. Since travelling with my daughter I’ve really got into AirBNB – and sometimes clutter is perfect as she’ll get the owner’s toys and baby paraphernalia to use which is a bonus.

  5. I think now there are too many options. I have used mostly hotels but in London the both times I visited I stayed in rented apartments – one through Airbnb and the other through Owners Direct and had no issue with either of them. I’m not a hostel – dorm kind of person so when I look at hostels I tend to look at the private rooms which really aren’t that much cheaper than hotel rooms to be honest.

    I think it’s a case of definitely doing your homework when it comes to accommodation.

  6. I usually travel solo so my first preference always remains to stay in hostels and if any, good hotel not available around I prefer to stay in guest houses. It is because of the fact that hostels are cheap, a good way to make variety of friends while travelling, how to deal with different peoples, adjustment and many more things.

  7. I’m actually planning on doing quite a bit of traveling later this summer. While it’ll be a little longer than a weekend break, I imagine it would be really nice to stay in a luxury hotel for most of my trips. At the very least, there are two different trips I’ll be taking that would be nice to do that with. Outside of that, I should be able to stay with friends.

  8. In traveling time I am always selected hostel to stay there because I really like hostel environments and its management my first and last preference is hostels. Thanks

  9. I think choosing the accommodation is one of the most exciting things about planning a trip. Whether you’re choosing which campsites to stop at or which hotel you’re going to have a week-long adventure, both are equally as pleasing.

    One thing I’ve always found difficult and I’m sure many people will agree, is arriving to a new destination with no idea where you’re going, just an address. That’s why I got involved with the development of Triporia a new travel site which provides users with a comprehensive street view of their accommodation surroundings in order to add a little familiarity when they arrive – and, of course, to ensure they don’t choose a dangerous or questionable district. it’d be great if you could take a look and let us know what you think! 🙂

  10. I totally agree with your points mate. Its always great to choose apartment rather then having a hotel on rent. As in apartment we get a feeling of home which is most important. Comfortable rooms, bathrooms, bed, kitchen and everything what we normally need in home on regular basis can easily available in apartments. Rather going on big portals and paying off their 2 nights or 3 nights package cost, its advisable to contact apartment dealers for making your holiday happy.

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The Travel Hack

The Travel Hack is a blog about stylish adventure travel and affordable luxury.

We believe luxurious travel can be affordable and isn't just for the rich. Follow along with our worldwide adventures as we share our trips and tips for incredible travel experiences on a modest budget.