Planning a last minute trip? Or maybe you’re preparing for next year? Either way, finding affordable European accommodation over the holidays can be tough, thankfully traveller Kelsey has a few firsthand tips.
Christmas can be an expensive time for flights, especially to Europe – and when you’re spending a lot of money to make it to a destination, you don’t want to spend big on accommodation too.
Here’s three affordable spots in places that are open all year round, perfect for a cosy Christmas stay:
1. THE COWSHED, ISLE OF SKYE
Scotland’s Isle of Skye is a gem of a travel destination, and the Cowshed’s boutique bunkhouse & pods are a great home base. Perched on Skye’s northernmost point, in the small town of Uig, the view will make you feel like you’re on the edge of the world.
Within minutes, you’ll feel right at home snuggled up next to a wood-burning fire on comfy couches. The Cowshed’s kitchen has plenty of room for cooking a Christmas meal, with ovens and gas burners aplenty. And while Uig might be a small town, it’s public transport accessible from Skye’s main town of Portree, and there’s a general store down the hill for all your supplies.
By day, hike along the nearby Fairy Glen and Fairy Pools — or for sweeping views, hike up the Old Man of Storr. In the evening, head for gin or whiskey at Talisker’s Distillery. By night, if you’re lucky, you might catch the northern lights.
2. THE INDEPENDENTE, LISBON
The Independente Hostel & Suites are the primo pick for a traveller who wants the peacefulness and beauty and an Airbnb, with a hostel’s social scene in close reach.
The Independente is set in the former Swiss Embassy — and it shows, with sunny rooms, high ceilings and beautiful winding staircases. The property has both lush private rooms and dorm rooms — but even the dorm rooms are spacious, with doors opening up to tiny street-view balconies. The first floor common room has comfy antique couches, a long wooden table for communal dinners, and a television (in case you’re missing news from home).
With free breakfast, a restaurant on site and a rooftop bar next door, you may never want to leave. But if you do fancy venturing out, visit the TimeOut markets for delicious foods (and the most delicious pastel de nata of your life) — or, just duck across the road to the small local Christmas markets for some hot wine. You’re right in the midst of Lisbon’s beautiful neighbourhoods of Principe Real and Bairro Alto, so there’s never a dull moment.
3. Casa Gràcia, Barcelona
The sunny lounge rooms on the first floor of Casa Gràcia are a drawcard enough to book this beautiful hostel. You could spend hours lounging by the Christmas tree in this beautiful space, lined with books in many languages.
Count yourself in for breakfast for a delicious spread of hot and cold breakfast, complete with scrambled eggs and sausages for the savoury lovers, and doughnuts for the sweet tooth — and then work it off in Casa Gràcia’s free yoga, which runs Monday through Wednesday.
If it’s a sunny day, start it in Casa Gràcia’s garden courtyard. In the afternoon, take a walk to see the stunning ceramics at Gaudi’s Park Güell. By night, check out the four restaurants sharing the converted warehouse space El Nacional, for delicious local fare in a fairy-lit, plant-filled heaven.
Dorms from AU$25, suites from AU$115
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What are your tips for experiencing Europe on a budget over Christmas?
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