Cheapo Travel: Guesthouses offer a sense of community

I find one of the most enduring delights of travel is the chance to meet new people, and experience even familiar places in a way that’s new and different.

Sometimes, this means eschewing traditional hotels in favor of guesthouses, where you have a chance to interact with the hosts or other guests in a way that would be otherwise impossible.

Sometimes the guesthouses are small and family owned. Sometimes they’re part of a larger chain, that offers private rooms inside hostel settings.

But what they all offer is a shared sense of community. And you’ll usually save money as well, compared to any hotel above the flophouse level. The website Booking.com is a good place to look for small properties, and you can also find them on sites like Hostelz.com or Hostelbookers.com.

Here are five of my favorite places, but if I missed yours, send me an email and tell me about it:

1. Denali Mountain Morning Hostel and Cabins, Alaska. I was stunned at the exorbitant prices for food and lodging around Alaska’s famed Denali National Park, so I was delighted to find this affordable option. Built on a rushing creek just outside the national park, this rustic cabin complex feels like the real Alaskan outdoors without the price tag of the posh wilderness resorts. There’s a clean shared kitchen in a log cabin, where I met scientists doing research in the Arctic, as well as a woman who worked with penguins in Tasmania. We stayed in the tiny Yanert cabin, with one bunkbed and one twin bed, and saved a fortune by cooking our own food. Yanert is $102 per night, which is a bargain in this pricey region. If I ever went back, I wouldn’t stay anywhere else. They also offer dormitories and canvas tents by the creek. Learn more: denalihostel.com

2. “Experience Nubia” Bet el Kerem guesthouse in Aswan, Egypt. Many people skip Aswan when they plan their trips to Egypt, but it was one of our favorite destinations, largely because of this charming guesthouse. The…

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