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If you were to sum up Leipzig in one word, what would that one word be?

It was a question I asked a few locals when revisited Leipzig last month. I got a different answer from everyone.






Crossroads is a word that definitely comes to my mind when I now think of Leipzig.

I was lucky to visit Leipzig 5 years ago. Well before the hype that had earned the city the dreaded epitaph of Hypezig or the New Berlin. I’ll be frank with you. I didn’t really warm to the city at first. I had booked myself into a hostel in the city’s east. The hostel was situated in a classic plattenbau, prefab concrete buildings that were typical of the GDR era. After the imposing modern architecture and grandeur of cities in the west like Munich, Dusseldorf and Stuttgart, the rundown eastern half of Leipzig provided a brutal contrast and reminder that the benefits of German reunification had not been evenly spread.

I remember the eerie silence screaming in my ears, as I walked through the neighbourhood, a mass of crumbling high-rise apartment flats with abandoned buildings on virtually every street. Some of them had boarded up windows while other had fallen-in roofs, often a mesh wrapped around their upper floors to prevent chunks of the buildings from falling and hitting pedestrians. I briefly ventured out in the evening in search for a bit to eat and stumbled across a few alcoholics and a guy offering me some crack heroin. I retraced my steps back to the hostel quickly and after a sleepless night, shifted to a hostel in the more lively city centre.

After dumping my bags in the room and a quick breakfast, I walked out aimlessly into the city. I had no map. The desire was to walk and get some sun on my skin. I had a slight headache from the lack of sleep. I soon wandered into a beautiful square, flanked by bare branched trees showing the first green shoots of spring. At the heart of the square, St Thomas’s Church stood tall, a grand gothic romanesque church where apparently a certain Johann Sebastian Bach had been cantor. I walked into the church and heard someone practising on the church’s famous organ. Hair on the back of my spine stood up as the music boomed through the cavernous church. Suddenly the weight of all the history and the significance of the place weighed on me. I was left a bit overwhelmed. I stumbled out into the fuzzy April sunshine and was soon drawn to the sound of a blues musician strumming his stuff in the square.


Right beside him I noticed a plaque that commemorated a famous event that took place here, one momentous day in Leipzig 24 years ago. A group of musicians had organised a street music festival here to protest against the communist regime of the GDR. Performing music without permission was a punishable offence in the GDR. As expected, the festival was banned by the authorities. However, much to the delight of locals, musicians from all over the GDR defied the ban and turned up in numbers in Leipzig in front of St Thomas’s Church on the morning of 10th of June, 1989. By 12 o’clock the local police had gathered in numbers to breakup the concert. Using excessive brutal force they forced the musicians onto trucks. However that did not stop the festival from continuing. It inspired more people to take their place, spontaneous solidarity actions taking place right till the evening. Small but significant moments like these all contributed to the gradual demise of the GDR regime.

Old sign at the Feinkostgelände

Reading this piece of history on the plaque moved me to tears. I don’t know whether it was the lack of sleep or the fact that I had been on the road for a while but the moment I read that, the earth beneath my feet moved a little and my view of Leipzig changed.

The fact that change is possible, even when the odds seems insurmountable is something worth holding onto. It’s a message that has a powerful resonance, particularly now when the world, ruled by megalomaniacs and despots, seems to be sliding towards a very uncertain fate.

5 years later

5 years later and I find myself on a similar fuzzy sunny day in Spring heading on an IC train to Leipzig from Berlin. I wander through the city centre and soak in the familiar sights like the Gewandhaus, Nikolaikirche and of course St Thomas’s Church.

I visit the former industrial neighbourhood of Plagwitz in the city’s west. A bohemian district and home to lot of artists, back in the day, this used to be a pretty run down area with lots of semi derelict buildings with artists squatting in them and a handful of cafes.

Schaubuhne Theatre, Karl Heine Strasse

Karl Heine Strasse

I walk down the district’s main thoroughfare, Karl Heine Strasse and  the street has cleaned up nicely. Locals are huddled into an old favourite Noch Besser Leben which was cool before Plagwitz was cool. Another local landmark for drinks, food and entertainment is the Schaubuhne Theatre is going strong. There are a few visible changes too. I count while walking down the street not one but three guys with man buns, two Audis, a grand cafe serving handcrafted artisanal coffee plus an independent shop selling handcrafted leather goods that were beautiful but ridiculously overpriced. Yup. The hipsters had left Berlin and were taking over Leipzig. I visit a well rated local Mexican eatery, Gallo Negro on the street. The food is delicious but for a bunch of tacos and beers we pay close to €20. I was surprised at how expensive the food was. Maybe I should have done my research better. Later on in the trip I had a delicious meal on Karl Heine at the Moroccan eatery called Casablanca. Lovely food, lots of vegetarian options, good portion sizes, great mint tea and well priced. Maybe the Mexican was an exception.

The point I’d like to make here is that the inevitable consequence of change is that it will lead to progress, a lot of which will be good and some of it may be unpalatable.

A few years ago, I remember lamenting the lack of choice of places to eat and drink in Plagwitz. It wasn’t clearly geared up to meet the needs of tourists. Now Karl Heine Strasse is thriving, bursting with cafes and bars packed with locals and tourists. I am weirdly nostalgic for the former Karli and its moribund silence. Which is better? I guess it is a matter of personal perspective.


Guy Buss, Mensa

As I spend a good half of the day exploring Karl Heine Strasse it starts to rain and I take cover in an old factory building.

I wind up the staircase and amidst the extensive graffiti strewn walls , find odd pieces of beautiful art works on the wall. On one floor there are a few artist’s ateliers. I walk past one and suddenly hear the deep thud of techno music. Maybe this was home to some of the illegal raves we heard Leipzig was famous for? I’m inclined to knock on the door but common sense prevails and I take one more flight of stairs and suddenly find myself in the midst of a hub of frantic activity. A few guys are heaving crates of drinks up the stairs into a huge room that is filled with pool tables. I am terrible at pool but decide its worth grabbing a beer and playing a round given the deluge of rain outside. Luckily, owner of the place, Guy Buss, a former Bundesliga pool champion was on hand to share some pro pool tips and his views on the changes taking place in Leipzig.

Open day, Spinnerei

It is an exciting time to be in Leipzig. Rents are still affordable, more young people are coming to live here, more companies are investing here so there are more new opportunities available for everyone. It is still a small city unlike Berlin and everything is within easy reach. I came from Finland here to study and fell in love with the city. I cant think of a better place to live and work in Germany at the moment.

Guy has a day job working in a software company and in his spare time, runs the place along with his two other business partners. He wants to move away from the stereotypical image of pool halls and attract a younger clientele. He has big plans for the place which include bringing in school groups to pick up the finer points of the game, pool tournaments and also games nights which will hopefully pull in locals looking for a different kind of night out.

I pick up a few pro tips from Guy and after one game, already feeling much more confident about my game. I leave the place, hopeful that Guy will do well.


Lovers, Tapentenwerkfest


A weekend of art: Tapetenwerkfest and the Spinnerei

On the weekend we visit, the art galleries of Leipzig have an open doors evening. This only happens twice a year so I’m feeling smugly happy. On the first night, I visit Tapentenwerk, a former wallpaper factory converted into an artists residence. Among the tenants are photographers, artists, architects, a longboard manufacturer and a feng shui practice.

In the evening when I arrive, the place is packed with locals.The air is thick with the waft of grilled meat and beer. It’s April and there’s a nip in the air but you can almost taste summer. The idea is fantastic. People are invited behind the scenes to explore artist ́s studios, celebrate and dance the night away. There’s a raw intimacy about how artists talk to visitors and talk about their work. The pieces of work are on sale but I don’t see much money changing hands. Instead I see more a celebration of humanity. There’s lots of wine being poured, lots of curious faces and a general air of contentment. There’s a large outdoor terrace upstairs where locals huddle together and sway to the moody beats of techno. After another uncertain start, I’m beginning to really warm to Leipzig again.

Spinnnerei Open Days

The following day I visit the Baumwollspinnerei, another stalwart of Leipzig’s art scene. Its a gloriously sunny day. Once holding up to 4,000 people in a vast complex of 19th-century factories, the area was so vast it was often considered ”a city in the city”. After a rapid decline in cotton production, after the fall of the wall, the complex slid into oblivion and was then rescued by a group of artists. Home to now working studios of architects, fashion designers, and artists, exhibition halls, galleries, a theatre and dance groups, cultural initiatives and lofts which you can rent for the night, the city within the city has been reborn. With over 15000 people visiting the ateliers over the weekend, it can be a little overwhelming trying to see all the studios but I come away reinvigorated and a head full of new thoughts and ideas.

Mendelssohn House, Leipzig

Leipzig’s music scene: The old vs new 

Continuing the pilgrimage of art and also music, before leaving Leipzig I had the chance to take in a concert at the Mendelssohn House and a rehearsal of a new initiative, Two Play to Play.

Built in the late classicist era, the Mendelssohn house has been beautifully preserved, retaining the same layout when he lived here  back in 1845. It was the composer’s last private address, and the only one of his residences that can still be visited. I had the chance to listen to some of his works as part of the weekly Sunday morning concert series. I enjoy the music in the historic setting. The only disconcerting thing is that I am by far the youngest person in the audience. The average age of the audience is well close to the 80’s. Its worrying to see how classical music seems to be the preserve of a much older audience. My mind wanders as to how does a city of Bach, Mendelssohn and Wagner make itself more relevant to the musical tastes of younger people?

Two Play to Play- Gregor Meyer and Martin Kohlstedt

I find the answer in the next concert I attend. I attend the open rehearsal of ‘Two Play to Play’ a seasonal initiative that invites musicians of the Gewandhaus Orchestra to interact with musicians of the independent scene. The idea is that they together compose a new piece of music combining different approaches and styles of music.

The rehearsals are open to the public. This season sees a 150 voice choir, the adventurous choir director Gregor Meyer and the introverted yet expressive pianist and composer Martin Kohlstedt find common ground to hopefully produce a masterpiece.

The music of Kohlstedt is hypnotic and quite grand in scale creating a dramatic soundscape which dovetails nicely with the vocal harmonies of the choir. Its a difficult balancing act but the result feels quite modern but still classical in sound.

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Budget Traveller by Karen Sargent - 2M ago

Greetings fellow BudgetTravellers- excited to share with you another instalment in my Cheap Eats series. This edition, we are discovering the best cheap eats in Malta thanks to a collaboration with Dealchecker and a little help from my Maltese friends Karen and Kylee. Plus if you are planning a visit to Malta, do checkout my earlier guide to backpacking in Malta and Gozo.

If you’re anything like me, travelling is basically an excuse to try out all the wonderful food the world has to offer. However, trying to decipher where locals like to eat and which restaurants are tourist traps usually leaves me a little hangry and I end up eating at the nearest place that sells anything resembling food.

Malta’s cafe’s and restaurants can be hard to navigate, so with a little help from my Maltese friends, we’ve come up with a few places that the locals have been enjoying for years and won’t break the bank.

Café Jubilee

Originally from Malta’s sister island Gozo, Café Jubilee became a hit with the locals, opening an outlet in Malta’s capital city Valletta, and in the bustling town of Gzira.

For just €2.25 you can grab a bagel smeared with their delicious homemade orange marmalade. Their famous ravioli (which I’m pretty sure are made by angels) are a mere €8.95 and they are generous with their portions.

The rest of their extensive menu also ranges between these prices, which makes it a perfect place to get bang for your buck. And it’s open from 8 am till about midnight so you really don’t have any excuse not to go.

The bonus? This dimly lit cosy café is full of quirky décor (think tables and chair glued to the ceiling) which makes it perfect for those Instagram posts.


Nenu the Artisan Baker

Set in one of Valletta’s quieter side streets, Nenu’s is ideal for both relaxed date nights and group dinners. They’re open for lunch too but be prepared not to get much done after.

Nenu only serves Maltese products. Everything on the menu, from the food to the wine to the liqueur is produced locally. A small exhibition depicting an old Maltese bakery gives Nenu’s that extra kick of culture.

Now I won’t lie we racked up a slight bill here. Our server did say something about our order being able to feed a small village but what does he know right? (We regret nothing)

However, if you’re a normal person, I suggest you try their Maltese ftira which is what Nenu’s is known for. Their ftira is a layer of amazing dough, similar to a pizza but not quite and then topped with local ingrients such as goat’s cheese and Maltese sausage. Divine. One of these is enough for 2 people and at € 12.50 each ftira, it makes it a pretty sweet deal.

If you’re lucky enough you might even get serenaded by two elderly Maltese men. Plus, our waiter was very passionate about the food and even took us back to see the olden baking ovens!


The Bakery, 143,

St Dominic Street,

Valletta, Malta  

Tel: +356 22581535

Pure Living

This is probably one of my all-time favourite place to go to when my health conscience kicks in (usually post weekend indulgence)

Whilst their menu offers their own delicious creations, I tend to go for the ‘Make Your Own’ section. Their starter salad starts at €3.50 and has a great choice of vegetables and grains to create your base with. You can add other items for an extra charge and has a list to suit all different (food) walks of life.

Personally, I’m a little in love with their broccoli balls (I hate broccoli) which are an extra euro. And when I feel l like throwing in some extra delicious points (aka calories), I’ll add grilled goat cheese drizzled with honey.

When ordering ask for a ginger shot. It’s free!  And if it’s warm enough take your order to go and enjoy some sunshine and maybe a quick dip along Sliema’s seafront.


Windsor street

Sliema SLM1800
Tel: +356 27136306


Ah the beloved pastizzi (sounds like past-it-si). Malta’s answer to street food. If you walk 5 minutes in any direction in Malta you’ll stumble upon one of these grab-and-go eateries (a.k.a  pastizzerias)

Any time of day is fair game when it comes to eating these deliciously stuffed filo pastries of goodness. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks.  No-one bats an eye. And at a whopping €0.30c (or so) each, would you even care?

Fun fact. ‘Serkin’ in Rabat, already popular with the locals, had their fame grow exponentially after Malta’s prime minister took Belgian, Luxembourg and Slovenian PMs for an afternoon tea and a snack. Rabat is also a beautiful town where you can wander around, visit museums or enter the walled city of Mdina, Malta’s silent city.

‘Champs’ in Malta’s little pub hub (Paceville, St. Julian’s) is open 24 hours and ready to assist in getting rid of the shrapnel you acquired throughout the night.

The pastizzerias have a long list of other Maltese favourites like Qassatat – pastry with ricotta or tuna & spinach or curried peas, Timpana – baked macaroni and the square pizza – greasy but oh so fluffy and tasty.

Oh and nothing is above €2.50.

Kazin (Maltese band clubs)

What if I told you that you can walk in to a bar with the intention of having a beer and walk out three hours later having eaten enough to feed a family of four and it wouldn’t have cost you more than the beer you bought?

Enter the Kazin. (sounds like kah-zeen) These bars are usually off the beaten track and the old-time locals from the area frequent such places. They’re not much to look but don’t let that stop you. Once you order a drink, plates of complimentary food will start flooding in. We’re talking anything from cheese and crackers, to pasta, wings, seafood… if they have it, they will serve it.

Hop on a bus on a Sunday from Valletta (take the 92 or 124) and head down south to Marsascala. The band club Awwista is a minute walk away from bus stop Polo. The area itself is very scenic and you can work up an appetite by enjoying a nice stroll right along the seafront before heading to Awwista for a drink or two.

Hobz biz-Zejt (Maltese bread)

No summer is complete in Malta without having hobz biz-zejt by the sea. The literal translation means bread with oil but there are plenty of variations.

The main ingredients are usually tuna, olives tomato paste, basil and mint. People tend to creative so it really depends on what floats your boat.  It sounds simple enough but the combination of the soft yet crunchy Maltese bread together with the ingredients make it so filling and tasty.

I haven’t been to a kiosk or restaurant – especially ones by the sea – that did not sell Hobz biz-Zejt. They’re usually the cheapest thing on the menu too.

So there you have it! A little insight on what people living in Malta go to for a quick bite or a nice cheap and cheerful meal.  And as a bonus, if you’re in Mdina, head to Fontanella and try one of their cakes. You will NOT be disappointed.

We hope you enjoy Malta and all it has to offer and enjoyed this article too!


Karen is Maltese and had made London her home. Along with her partner Paul she writes about culture and adventure for responsible travellers at globalhelpswap. She is passionate about good food and runs an Instagram dedicated to the food she discovers around the world. You can find her on Instagram at @globallocalfoodie and @globalhelpswap


This post was produced in collaboration with Dealchecker but the views expressed here are entirely Karen’s with a little help from her friends in Malta.

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Following my recent guides of the best budget places to stay in Amsterdam, London, Paris, Berlin, Edinburgh, Lisbon and Venice, excited to be finally be able to share with you 5 of my best budget places to stay in Rome. There’s a nice mix of my favourite luxury hostels and budget hotels to choose from, depending on your budget. Hope you find the guide useful and if you are visiting Rome, do checkout my other guides to the best cheap eats in Rome and 16 local Roman dishes you can try The RomeHello

Perfect for : Couples ,Solo Travellers and Art Lovers

The RomeHello has the unique distinction of being Rome’s and possibly the world’s first street art and social enterprise hostel. World famous street artists from all over the world such as Alice Pasquini, Facte, and Victoriano were inviting to decorate the walls of the hostel and the end result is colourful, inspiring and adds energy to the place. It reminded me a lot of one my other favourite luxury hostels, Gallery Hostel… the idea that a hostel can double as a creative space and act as a platform that allows local artists to showcase their talent. The idea of inviting street artists to decorate the walls of the hostel was born from owner Lorenzo Busi’s passion for graffiti art. As a former graffiti artist himself he had witnessed first hand the power these artists had of inspiring change in places where there is little chance for change. That theme of inspiring change continues with the hostel’s unique identity of being also a social enterprise. The problem of high employment amongst the city’s youth and also people from disadvantaged backgrounds inspired Lorenzo to focus on employing hostel staff from disadvantaged backgrounds. One staff has Down’s syndrome, few are asylum seekers and refugees. For this reason alone, this hostel gets my thumbs up.

More about the hostel. It enjoys a fantastic central location just a short walk from Termini train station and Repubblica Metro station.  The Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and the Spanish Steps all within a 20-minute walking radius.

Other impressive feature of the RomeHello are their rooms, a mix of spacious dorm and private rooms, all with extremely comfy beds and en-suite bathrooms. You have the added bonus of a reading light, a USB charger plus also spacious storage locks beneath every bed. Just remember to bring your own lock. On the ground floor, you’ll find a very well equipped guest kitchen and cosy lounge, complete with a PlayStation and sofas to sink into with one of our travel guides from the bookshelf.

Prefer to chill with a beer? Socialise with guests and locals in the hostel’s bar, The Barrel Bar -an American, post industrial style-bar which features live music from the best of the Roman and international music scene.They also serve a very generous buffet breakfast with fruit, fresh bread, beans, bacon, scrambled eggs, coffee, tea and cake for an extra €8. ( €6 if you book online in advance)

Book your stay with the RomeHello hostel

Average price of a bed in a dorm is €20 and €70 for double booking via Hostelworld.com Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Or book directly via the RomeHello website and if you quote ‘BudgetTraveller’ you get 10% off!

In the Giardino degli Aranci on Aventine Hill with Maura from the Roman Guy and the rest of my blogger mates. Photo courtesy of Katie Dawes, ‘The Hostel Girl’

The hostel also has excellent partnerships with local tour providers. If you are short on time and want to discover all the sights of Rome in a few hours, then I highly recommend a tour with the Roman Guy. Besides packing the main sights on foot, they offer the added luxury of a car to drive you around the sights and several hills of Rome. So from capturing the perfect panoramic shot of Rome from the dreamy Giardino degli Aranci on the Aventine Hill to capturing sunset over the magical Ancient Roman Forums behind the Campidoglio-this tour allows you to do everything. Plus if you are in a group, you can choose to customise the tour. I was keen to checkout some of Caravaggio’s works and our lovely guide Maura took me to Church of San Luigi dei Francesi which houses three paintings of his on the theme of Saint Matthew the Evangelist.

Book this tour with the Roman Guy?

You can book the Best of Rome Driving and Walking Tour I did here. It last 3 hours and costs €95 which is by any means not cheap but if you’re short on time and want the luxury of someone local, knowlegeable to guide you and take you across the city in a luxury vehicle, this tour is for you.

Stefano from The Big City Life Project standing in front of Parisian artist, Seth’s mural ‘The Redentore Child’

If you are interested in discovering more of the street art scene, the hostel can connect you with Stefano from the Big City Life project which has set up an open air street art museum in a former run down housing project in the suburb of Tor Marancia. Thanks to the initiative of Stefano and the locals from the housing project, artists from all around the world were invited to create a unique piece of art onto the side of each block of flat.

This painting is a remix by Guido Van Helten of a photograph by Francesco Paolo Michetti which is entitled “io sarò”.

The families living in each block of flats chose the imagery. The result are 22 breathtaking pieces of art, each one with a unique story. 

Book a tour with Stefano? 

A tour with Stefano of the open-air street art museum costs just €5 which is a bargain for street art lovers and for those who want to experience a different side to Rome. To book your tour, drop a line to Stefano at visit@bigcitylife.it with your desired time and date you’d like to visit.

The Beehive Hotel and Hostel, Rome

The Beehive Hotel and Hostel, Rome

Perfect for: Couples, Solo Travellers, Vegans

Right next to Termini station, this eco-conscious hostel-meets-hotel in Rome is an oasis of calm in this fast-paced city, complete with a garden and an organic vegetarian café that offers generous portions of locally sourced, home-cooked goodness.

A hybrid of a hostel, hotel and a holistic retreat, The Beehive is the perfect place for unwinding after a day of exploring Rome. Just two blocks from the chaos of Rome’s Termini Station, guests are ushered into their blissful garden area, an oasis of calm and the perfect place to mingle with fellow guests while enjoying a glass of their organic wine from Umbria (€8 a bottle, €2 a glass) .

Enjoy the contemporary design elements of the place like the Phillipe Starck inspired chairs at the reception, the warm coloured interiors, Steve’s beautiful family portraits and facilities like the basement organic café.

The owners, Steve and Linda Brenner are passionate locals and have some great tips to share to make your stay more enjoyable, like recommending the best Gelateria in town (a subject of fiery debate amongst the Romans). Breakfast is not included in the room price, but if you do splash out, it is a real treat. You have some exciting options ranging from scrambled tofu with veggies or Juk: Korean Rice Porridge (has to be ordered a day in advance) or French toast with fruit and honey. They also host pop up dinners, lunches from local chefs, a yummy weekly vegan aperitivo buffet, cooking classes plus a fab monthly storytellers’ event.

There’s an option here to suit every type of traveller and budget, from their dorms  ( including several female only dorms) to their stylish privates and guest rooms with self-catering facilities off-site. Privates are the top pick for guests with their bright colours, beaded lamps, huge windows that breathe in light, lots of wardrobe space plus your own private sink and locally sourced, handmade vegetable soaps.

If you like places with a personal touch and attention to detail, then the Beehive is the place to stay for you in Rome.

Book your stay at the Beehive Rome

In the low season dorms start from €25, singles from €40, doubles from €60 per room booking via Hostelworld.com

The Beehive Price: Buy Now Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Address: Via Marghera 8, 00185 Rome, Italy.

The YellowSquare

Perfect for: Couples, Solo Travellers, Party Lovers

The YellowSquare Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. is possibly the greatest party hostel on earth. This hostel has been designed with the idea of you having the wildest night of your life. There are a lot of cool spaces within the ‘Square’ where you can easily meet your fellow guests: greatest of which is the Yellow Bar. However, it would be a huge mistake to label the YellowSquare as just a party hostel. The YellowSquare is a bold concept in hospitality where guests can eat, party, sleep and work in one space. A hostel is no longer just a place to rest your head. You can catch a local band in action.

Cooking classes at the YellowSquare

Go on a food tour of Rome with a local or enjoy a cooking class preparing something typically Roman like a pasta guanciale. If you are travelling for work you can catch up with work in their brand new co-working space. Even get your hair cut in their recently launched hairdressing salon. There are plans for even an escape room. Yellowsquare is a very exciting fun space.

The Yellow caters to all types of travellers. If you are travelling solo and want to meet people and party in Rome then the ensuite dorms are perfect here. (There are non-ensuite dorms available too). Equipped with reading light, power outlet and lockers- they are comfortable and clean. Plus, most importantly in summer the ensuite dorms have air conditioning.

If you are looking for something more peaceful and relaxed, their private rooms in the newly launched Yellow Hotel across the road are great. They are equipped with a private en suite bathroom, direct-dial phone, independent Air Con, heating, a safety deposit box, hair dryer, mini fridge and wired Internet access.

Tonika, Yellow Bar

The Yellow Bar across the road is where all the action happens. With some of the cheapest drinks in town, a regular programme of events that includes great local bands and DJ nights in their basement nightclub, Arcade. The cherry on the cake is the downright bizarre yet entertaining Tonika -a kind of x-rated fitness live video is one way of describing it. If that doesn’t get your pulses racing, you can sign up for a fee and grab a seat on the ‘Rollin Bar’: a magical mystery tour of Rome by night. Imagine a van with strobing lights, half crazed backpackers knocking down unlimited booze on offer accompanied by the surreal beautiful view of Rome at night.

The hostel serves a la carte breakfast available from €2.50 and up. Plus most importantly, they have a proper coffee machine here. There is an all day menu where you can help yourself from burgers to salads. Pretty decent fare for a hostel. My preference would be to dine at Mamma Angela’s Trattoria across the road. Great selection of antipasti, fab bruschetta and amongst many other dishes they serve a fantastic Roman classic: cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper)

Hostel offers a variety of great walking tours and organises cooking classes in the new basement kitchen of the hotel area. Kitchen is available for use by all hostel guests.

In the new hotel building, there is also a ‘movie garden’- a hidden inner courtyard where you can watch classic movies or just relax with a book during the day and chill.

In terms of other key facilities, the hostel has a laundry service. For a small fee they will take care of your dirty clothes.

To summarise, crazy, sexy and fun are the three words I would use to describe the YellowSquare experience. If you feel young at heart and want to party like its still 1999, then you will love the YellowSquare forever. If you are not the partying, social type and looking for something placid then look elsewhere. YellowSquare is so much more than just a party palace. It is an experience that will stay with you for years to come.

Book your stay at the YellowSquare

The YellowSquare, Rome Price: Buy Now Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

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Travelers visiting Oslo will love its striking scenery, historical buildings, and state-of-the-art architecture. While it may not be the cheapest city to travel to; you could still enjoy a good night’s sleep with the affordable accommodations that won’t break your bank. We at the BudgetTraveller, searched the best cheapest hostels and hotels in Oslo, so you don’t have to and found these accommodations all at impressively a-fjord-able prices! PS If you’re planning a trip to Oslo checkout our earlier post about our 13 budget tips for Oslo and also our cheap eats guide to Oslo

1. Anker Hostel

Old and worn, but clean and quiet.

A decent budget hostel in Oslo, The Anker Hostel is located in a quiet neighborhood with lots of amenities nearby. Rooms are clean, spacious and well-heated.

The hostel also features a small food dispensing facility at the nonstop reception which is managed by friendly and helpful staff round the clock. There is a restaurant and bar in the hostel. The atmosphere in the hostel is nothing to write home about but if you’re looking for something central and convenient, this hostel should be a decent option.

What’s more? It’s only a 10-minute walk to go downtown.

Pro Tip “Please pack bed linen and a towel if possible to keep the price low. Many hostels in Scandinavia charge a hefty price for linen and towels so if you are planning to visit this part of the world, definitely recommend making space in the luggage for these items.”

Price  Starts from €50/per bed, per night booking via Hostelworld.com 

2. Oslo Hostel Haraldsheim

Haraldsheim Youth Hostel, Oslo provides perfect accommodation to anyone on a budget who still expects high standards of service and quality of a room. Located on a beautiful hillock, it is a great place to stay with your family and children, thanks to the lovely gardens and lawns that bolster its communal vibe.

The hostel offers a good quality dormitory accommodation in addition to the single and double rooms that are clean, bright and comfortable enough to exceed the standard of an average youth hostel with their bathroom, TV and modern interiors.

Catering to a wide variety of breakfast, the hostel also features a well-equipped kitchen where you can cook your food. Moreover, a small supermarket nearby means you can avoid blowing all your money on the high cost of Norwegian food.

Pro Tip “Choose a room in the separate wing when you’re traveling with less than four people.:

Price  Start from €60/per bed, per night booking via Hostelworld.com

3. Cochs Pensjonat

Cheap, central and bohemian, Cochs Pensjonat is a popular pension that offers a friendly atmosphere with its clean, bright and comfortable rooms. The hotel is well located and within walking distance of the main train station.

Situated behind the Royal Palace, this quaint and historical accommodation offers nearly 100 rooms in three different categories: Best, Standard and Value. While the value rooms have shared washrooms and no cooking facilities, the Best and Standard rooms not only feature an exclusive kitchen area but also provide the luxury of an ensuite private shower room.

Pro Tip “Even though breakfast is not included, you can buy breakfast packages at a special price at Kaffebrenneriet on the ground floor.”

Price Start from €65/per bed, per night booking via Hostelworld.com

4. Saga Poshtel Oslo Central

Aimed to attract all types of travelers and jet-setters, Saga Poshtel Oslo Central offers ten different room types ranging from standard doubles to a dorm with twelve beds. Hostel features free wireless internet throughout the building. The standard doubles in the ‘hotel section’ all feature large flatscreen TVs.

Situated in downtown Oslo, the hostel is a 10-minute walk to the train, tram & bus station as well as various museums and tourist attractions. Guests love their generous free breakfast buffet where you can help yourself to toast, ham & cheese, cereals, salad, boiled eggs, juice, coffee and fresh fruits.

Pro Tip “When staying in a dorm room, you should bring your padlocks for the lockers.”

Price  Start from €65/per bed, per night booking via Hostelworld.com

5. Comfort Hotel Express, Youngstorget

An immaculate and budget accommodation, Comfort Hotel Express makes another great choice in our “value hotels” list. The hotel embarks upon not only the idea of saving money but also the planet, thanks to its vibrant green theme that endorses affordable vegan food and overall caring about the earth.

The hotel showcases state-of-the-art amenities such as the magnificent rooftop terrace, a chill-out bar in the basement, a fitness center to keep you active, and heated floors in the bathroom for a quick shower after a cold day in Oslo.

Just a stone’s throw from nearby clubs and bars, this 3-star hotel also allows guests to explore what the local nightlife has to offer easily. So, if you are traveling on a not-so-low budget and like to Do It Yourself, then Comfort Hotel Xpress Youngstorget is definitely for you!

Pro Tip “Smile and be friendly, no matter how jet lagged you might be and then ask for a room with a view!”

Price  Start from €70/per bed, per night booking via Booking.com

6. First Hotel Millennium

The Millennium is another comfortable, central and value for money option in Oslo. Some of the wood panelled rooms feel a little tired but overall the beds are comfortable, bathrooms are clean and some of the suites have balcony rooms which offer great views of the city.

Located in close proximity to the main train and bus station, the hotel also serves a excellent complimentary breakfast buffet.

Pro Tip “You’re in the middle of a busy city; avoid rooms facing the street!”

Price  Start from €70/per bed, per night booking via Booking.com 

7. Scandic Karl Johan

This hotel offers a great location, a fully licensed bar on premises plus neat, clean and spacious rooms in addition to a comfortable lobby with a range of seating.

Wake up to the luxury of delightful breakfast served in the dining room. From freshly baked croissants to oatmeal porridge to the creamy ham and cheese, this hotel caters to everything you could want for breakfast in a breakfast buffet.

Pro Tip: “If you need a table to work in your room, then you should request it in advance while reserving the hotel.”

Price  Start from €80/per bed, per night booking via Booking.com  

8. CityBox

Citybox combines simplicity with both comfort and affordability. Located right in the center of the town, the hotel offers an automated check-in and check-out via kiosks which makes it pretty convenient.  While the rooms are small, they are surprisingly cozy and minimalist in décor. Guests praise the comfort of their high quality mattress and also their free wifi connection which is present throughout the building. Clean, comfortable and cheaper than most other hotels in Central Oslo, Citybox is a convenient value for money option when visiting Oslo.

Pro Tip Even though the hotel doesn’t offer breakfast, one could grab 10% off on meals at the cafe Rent Mel which is in the same building.

Price  Start from €60/per bed, per night booking via Booking.com

9. Smart Hotel Oslo

If you are in Oslo for just a day, then Smart Hotel Oslo makes a great stay as you could use it as a quick base to return to change, take a shower, etc. The hotel features small rooms (As small as it’s possible for a hotel room to get) with a double bed fixed into an alcove. But the rooms compensate well with great space-saving devices.

The hotel also houses a large breakfast room, a conference room and a “Smart bar” area which is mostly a smart shop that is equipped to quench your thirst and fill your stomach.

Pro Tip: The hotel makes an ideal place for a solo-stay but if there are two of you – it is recommended to upgrade to a bigger room for a small additional fee.

Price  Start from €68/per bed, per night booking via Booking.com

10. The Apartments Company – Parkveien

The last tip in our roundup is an Aparthotel : Apartments Company Parkveien is great value for money alternative to the hotels in Oslo. The aparthotel is located in a quiet street, just a few minutes walk from the Royal Palace Park. The beds are clean, comfortable and the bathrooms are nice. The self catering facilities ( great for saving money on eating out) include a fully equipped kitchen, microwave and dishwasher. There is also a comfortable seating area and cable TV. Wifi is free and works well.

Price  Start from €90/per bed, per night booking via Booking.com

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Amsterdam can be silly expensive, so following last year’s guide to some of our favourite stylish budget places to stay in Amsterdam we’ve compiled for you the 11 best cheap hostels and hotels in Amsterdam. As with everything that comes cheap in life, we advise not to have too high expectation- if you are looking for just a cheap bed to sleep in for the night and a roof over your head, these hostels and hotels will be perfect for you. To help your Euros stretch further, do checkout our guide to the best cheap eats in Amsterdam plus this excellent new guide from local Frankie Bird on her top 100 free things to do in Amsterdam

1. Stayokay Amsterdam Stadsdoel

Kloveniersburgwal 97, 1011 KB Amsterdam, Netherlands

Backpackers love staying at this quiet hostel thanks to its complimentary breakfast, friendly staff, nice onsite bar and also the location: the property faces the canal on either side and is within walking distance of tourist hotspots like the Royal Palace,  Waterloo Square, and the Red Light District. Beds are ok but in terms of price/value, this is a good option for Amsterdam

Price Per Bed: Starts at €23.25/night Book via Hostelworld.com

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, bed linen, a launderette, bike shelter, tourist info and electronic door locks, lockers, and safes.

2. Hans Brinker Hostel Amsterdam

Kerkstraat 136-138, 1017 GR Amsterdam, Netherlands

Hans Brinker markets themselves as apparently ‘the worst hotel in the world’ but delivers the basics for an ideal cheap break in Amsterdam. This is a hostel for party animals and enjoys a great location (majority of the galleries and libraries are located at a five-minute walk from the hostel ) near Leidseplein, the city’s dynamic hangout spot. The beds are clean but basic, there is a complimentary breakfast plus Happy Hour between 5 and 6pm where you can enjoy some of the cheapest beers in town. The other star feature is their underground club which stays open till wee hours in the morning.

Price Per Bed: Starts from €23.50/night Book Via Hostelworld.com

Amenities: Free Breakfast, free Linen including towels and free WiFi

3. Dutchies Hostel, Amsterdam

Sara Burgerhartstraat 21a, 1055 KV Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you’re looking for a quiet but social hostel then this graffiti-covered, contemporary hostel is the perfect choice for you.Established on the ground floor of a structure with student residences, it provides good transportation connectivity through buses, trams, and metro. The rooms are spacious, comfy and well-furnished.

Price Per Bed: Starts from €26.59/night Book via Hostelworld.com

Amenities: Free linen, free WIFI, free luggage storage, free city maps, free lockers, and locks.

4. Stayokay Amsterdam Zeeburg

Timorplein 21, 1094 CC Amsterdam, Nertherlands


Treat yourself to the luxury of a relaxed stay by checking in at the Stayokay Amsterdam Zeeburg. Grab a bike from the hotel rental or hop on the  tram and visit popular nearby spots like the Natura Atris Magitra zoo and Anne Frank House. The place offers colorful, simplistic rooms in addition to housing an open eatery complimented by a classy wooden panelled bar.

Price Per Bed: Starts from €27.25/night Book via Hostelworld.com

Amenities: Free WiFi, Free Breakfast, and Linen

5. Meininger Amsterdam City West

Orlyplein 1 – 67, 1043 DR Amsterdam, Netherlands

This hotel is ideal for couples looking for a peaceful stay, Meininger is situated in close proximity to the Sloterdijk Railway Station which is just a 6 minute ride from Amsterdam Central Station ( trains run till late). Schiphol Airport is just a 11 minute ride away. The interiors of the place reflect Old Master-style art. As is standard  with most Meininger hotels there’s a games area with pool and table football, a fully equipped kitchen plus also a washing machine and dryer.  Staff are friendly and helpful. There’s a small bar in the lobby, perfect for  putting up your feet in the lobby with a cold beer after a long day of meandering along the canals of Amsterdam.

Price Per Bed: Starts from €17.85/night via Hostelworld.com

Amenities: Free WiFi

6. Flying Pig Beach Hostel/ Flying Pig Uptown/ Flying Pig Downtown

Parallel Boulevard 208, 2202 HT Noordwijk, Netherlands

Experience the real hustle and bustle of Amsterdam at the Flying Pig hostels. The three youth hostels are world famous for their relaxed atmosphere in true Amsterdam style.

The Flying Pig Downtown hostel, for example, is the place to party. Located in the city center, this 18th century building has been transformed into one of the best party spots in all of Amsterdam.

The Flying Pig Uptown Hostel, on the other hand, is situated right in the heart of the city and caters to you the luxury of a plethora of clubs, pubs, coffee shops, restaurants and bars in Amsterdam.

Last but not the least, If you are looking to party by the beach, then The Flying Pig Noordwijk is simply the one for you. Located merely 50 meter away from the beautiful coastline, this hostel is also an excellent alternative for backpackers who want to see more of the Netherlands than just Amsterdam.

Price Per Bed: €41.80/night

Amenities: Free Breakfast, Linen, Free WiFi and Free City Maps

7. The Bulldog

Oudezijds Voorburgwal 220, 1012 GJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

Location. Location. Location. Wake up in the heart of Amsterdam’s Red Light District with the some of the most stunning views of the city’s dreamy canals from its rooftop terrace. multilingual staff, 24 hours access, free WIFI, on site security, lockers and bag storage plus a social atmosphere that makes this hostel a popular choice amongst backpackers. A great option for the party lovers, the hostel’s lively Lounge Bar invites you for unlimited drinks, laughs and FUN.

Price Per Bed: €30/night

Amenities: Free Wifi, Free Towels

8. ClinkNOORD

Badhuiskade 3, 1031 KV Amsterdam, Netherlands

Treat yourself to a memorable stay at this Creative Dutch-styled Hostel in Amsterdam Noord, one of the city’s most creative and culturally vibrant areas. With its Dutch-style interiors and chilled out friendly vibe, this hostel is perfect for those who are looking for a perfect blend of a hostel and a hotel.

Various features make this a really cool hostel. Friendly staff. Love the interior design and features like the stained glass windows, the library and the atrium. Their in-house ZincBAR with an affordable food menu is a winner. Plus you have the really cool location in the hip and upcoming district of Amsterdam Noord. Atmosphere can be lacking at times which is the one area they need to work on more. Otherwise this is a pretty cool hostel and great value for its location.

Price Per Bed: Starts from €20/night

Amenities: Library, free Wi-Fi, in-house bar, affordable café, self-catering kitchen, luggage lockers.

9. Pension De Laurier

Eerste Laurierdwarsstraat 52, 1016 Amsterdam, Netherlands

Located in a historic little building in the Jordaan area, rated 4.5 on TripAdvisor, Pension De Laurier is one of Amsterdam’s best value stays for those looking for a bit of privacy and also with a good location. The rooms here are clean and cosy with everything you need, kettle, WiFi, hairdryer, hot shower, heating, TV plus added bonus of a fridge.  The hostel provides close access to the number of tourist hot-spots such as the Anne Frank House, Royal Palace, Historical Museum and Madame Tussaud.

Price Per Room: Starts from €75/night via Hostelworld.com

Amenities: Free WiFi, Free Linen, and Free Towels

10. Hotel Jupiter

Tweede Helmersstraat 14, 1054 CJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

Come visit Amsterdam, and enjoy the services of this small yet convenient hotel. Housed in a historical building built in the beginning of 19th century; this hotel is perfect for couples who want to be left undisturbed. Masterly-crafted in the middle of the silent street, this small three-star property is convenience complimented by ease.

P.S. You will definitely fall in love with its continental breakfast which is loaded with a wide variety of Breads, Meat, Cheese, Sweets, Fruits, salad and more.

Price Per Room: Starts from €64/night booking via Hostelworld.com

Amenities: Free City Maps and Free WiFi

11. Frida Badoux B&B

Sijsjesstraat 2, 1021 CW Amsterdam, Netherlands

Frida Badoux B&B is located next to Beurs van Berlage in the hip upcoming neighbourhood of Amsterdam Noord. Hostess Frida is warm and helpful and the rooms here are bright and cheerful. You have the added bonus of a free excellent breakfast and the location is fantastic just a short ferry ride from Amsterdam Centraal Station.

Price Per Room: Starts from €75/night via Booking.com

Amenities: Free parking, Breakfast, Free WiFi, and non-smoking rooms

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It has been almost 2 weeks since I’ve returned from South East Asia. It is pretty cold and gloomy in Berlin right now. I can understand why my friends warned me about winter in Berlin. I’m finding it tough to adjust to the lack of light. I also find the people all around me gloomy. The cold, damp streets are strangely sterile and quiet. Walking them every day, I strangely miss the chaos and sounds of Asia. Then there is the food. The Asian food scene in Berlin is pretty damn good but there’s nothing like the real thing.

The real thing. At 38. I finally experienced SE Asia. I signed up for G Adventures 18 to Thirtysomethings shoestring tour  of Cambodia. I don’t know why it took me so long to visit SE Asia. A rite of passage in your 20s for backpackers, I felt that my time had passed. I didn’t want to be the oldest guy in the hostel. I wanted to socialise and meet people. I wanted to experience the fabulous food that SE Asia is famous for. Plus also discover the rich history and natural landscapes that make this part of the world unique. I felt traveling solo, a tour would be a nice way to get my bearings and feel for the region.

So. To help you decide, I’ve summarised my experience of the G Adventures Cambodia on a Shoestring Tour below, sharing with you what I loved and what I didn’t like about the tour.

Sey aka Bamboo, CEO for the tour

Each G Adventures tour has a CEO. This is not your traditional CEO for a not very traditional tour. CEO stands for Chief Experience Officer. For my tour I had the pleasure of having Sey aka Bamboo. Proud Cambodian, Sey’s a native of Tropoung Run village which is part of the Bakong commune in Siem Reap province. As someone who has deep roots in the area, extremely well connected to all the people involved in the tourism industry, and has himself experienced considerable hardship to build a career in this industry, Bamboo was the best possible person to introduce me to Cambodian culture, customs and the people. Plus he was incredibly open in sharing his personal stories and life: from the stories of his experience of being part of New Hope Outreach Centre (a project G Adventures supports that gives local Khmer people access to training programs, education and vocational training opportunities) to the incredible courtship of his wife (amazing story) and his dream of setting up an English language school for kids in his village. When I look back at my trip, I remember the stories of Bamboo and he was the essential glue that made the experience worthwhile for me.

Cool group

I was a bit apprehensive about travelling with a group of strangers for 10 days. As someone who loves travelling independently, I wasn’t sure if the tour was for me. While it means sacrificing some personal space and lack of personal downtime, pleased to say that I got on really well with the majority of the group and made some friends. Despite being the oldest in the group, at no point did anyone make me feel like the ‘oldest’ one. Age is just a number I know – and an attitude. Still, always nice to be part of a likeminded group. While there was plenty of socialising and few beers every evening, which is expected as part of a 18-to-Thirtysomethings tour, I was surprised at how chilled and mature everyone was. Plus some of the group complimented me on how much younger I acted and looked which was a kind of silly ego boost.

Lots of interaction with locals and plenty of good food!

Awesome hosts for our Khmer dinner with locals in Siam Reap

It is difficult on such a short whirlwind trip of a country to get a proper perspective of the city. I was impressed within the tight timescales how the tour manages to fit in a lot of history and more importantly, gives you the chance to interact, meet locals.

One of my highlights of the trip was the chance to have a home cooked meal with a local Khmer family outside Siam Reap. Bamboo had tuk-tuks arranged to pick us from the Mekong Hostel to take us to the host family. Having grown up in India, there are few better quintessential Asian experiences than riding a tuk-tuk. Wind in your hair and watching locals zipping by on their bikes and getting on with their everyday business of living. I love tuk tuks.

We arrived just after sunset and given a warm welcome by our host and their family. While the meal was being prepared, I enjoyed the popular local Angkor Wat beer and observed the elders gathered around chuckling at a very portable TV set. Close inspection revealed that the source of entertainment was none other than X Factor and face of Simon Cowell was pictured, scowling at the contestants. Different country, customs, culture but some things never change.

Finally the food arrived and this was a spread befitting a king and queen! We sat down on the floor which was a challenge for some people in the group. Coming from an Indian family, eating on the floor is something I’ve experienced and so I easily gorged on the food sampling traditional Khmer dishes like cha kngey ginger and chicken stir fry and fish amok: a thick soup cooked with fish, coconut milk and flavoured with chopped chillies, garlic, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and shallots. It was a really delicious meal and one of my standout memories of the trip.

Another unique experience that was part of my tour was the chance to experience a homestay in the Mekong Delta. We travelled to Can Tho which is the main hub of life in the delta. Can Tho is a curious clash of old and new. After jumping off a six-lane expressway within minutes we were walking through paddy fields and in a small homestay. We were spread across several bungalows. The room I spent the night in was pretty basic but had all the amenities you would need: a bed, a fan and a mosquito net. There was a shared bathroom nearby that was clean and with a very basic handheld shower. Nothing fancy but given we were staying there for just the night, it was fine. Being right beside the fields, it was quite a memorable experience going to sleep: sounds of crickets, frogs and toads were the perfect goodnight lullaby!

Highlight of the stay was another memorable meal. We were treated to a live demo by our homestay hosts of making traditional Vietnamese pancakes called banh xeo that are typical of the Mekong Delta. The pancakes come with a filling of pork and bean sprouts which I then dressed with fish sauce for extra flavour. The food just kept coming after that. We had a buffet spread of various local dishes: pumpkin soup, spring rolls, fried pork simmered in a caramel sauce, sautéed green beans and tofu with tomatoes. A very simple but so delicious meal.

Phare, The Cambodian Circus: Clowning with a conscience

Despite a pretty hectic and packed itinerary there was still plenty of room for optional activities where you can go off and do your own thing if you wish. When we reached Siam Reap after a long bus journey from Bangkok we had some time in the evening to go for some food and see a bit of the city. Bamboo, our CEO offered us the option of watching the famous local Phare Circus which Lonely Planet has dubbed as ‘Cambodia’s answer to Cirque du Soleil.’ So naturally, I was very curious to see what the fuss was about. Pleased to say that this was one of those experiences that lived up to expectations. I love how the concept of how the circus has become a platform for locals to practise their arts and make a sustainable living. The performances were pretty spectacular with some eye-catching routines. Definitely something you should check out and support on your next trip to Siam Reap. Bamboo organised tickets, transportation by tuk-tuk to the venue, and also a pickup for us after the event finished which was really handy –another plus of being part of the tour.

Angkor Wat at sunrise

Not much of an early morning person but getting up early for sunrise at Angkor Wat is, I guess, one of those once in a lifetime experiences you have to savour. So, at 4:30am I was up and heading towards the temple. After a not too long queue to get our day pass to the temple, we made our way through the dark into the vast temple complex. Sadly, we were not the only people who had made the effort to get up at the crack of dawn to see this. At times, I have to be honest, the whole experience felt a bit hollow, standing there with a bunch of people wielding their selfie sticks around me with no sense of personal space. On top of that, given the cloudy weather, I did not see any sunrise. Even worse, it started raining heavily which is a risk you take visiting these parts in the monsoon season. Tip: my advice would be to visit these parts from November till March which is the dry season but on the downside this time of the year attracts even more tourists.

The Angkor Wat temple complex is huge and you can easily spend a whole day walking around exploring the vast complex of temples. This place is really something out of this world.

My tip is to lose the crowds and go for an aimless wonder. It is pretty easy to find some space for yourself to appreciate this monumental complex of temples.

The Angkor Wat temple complex is huge and you can easily spend a whole day walking around exploring the vast complex of temples. This place is really something out of this world.

My tip is to lose the crowds and go for an aimless wonder. It is pretty easy to lose the crowds and find some space for yourself to appreciate this monumental complex of temples.

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You don’t need a princely income to go to bed in some of Europe’s finest historic buildings. With access to former palaces, forts, keeps and prisons, Germany’s Jugendherberge Youth Hostel Association can facilitate an exciting trip with a royal theme. Kirstie Pelling and Stuart Wickes from the Family Adventure Project toured five of the country’s best this summer and in this guest post they bring you their suggestions for a week ultimate German castle hostel tour.. Seven nights and no knighthood

First things first; you are unlikely to encounter a King or a Knight on your road trip of German castles and you won’t be woken up by a handsome prince unless you take your own. But if you always thought castles were either remote, draughty ruins or lofty homes for the rich then this post may pleasantly surprise you. Because Germany’s Jugendherberge association has made a fine job of opening up castle hostels to members, preserving the history and unique character of each, while modernising facilities and offering some quirky experiences. On our trip we kissed a frog, met a convention of Harry Potters, slept in castellated beds, escaped from a famous prison and luxuriated in the rich gold sunsets of the Rhine. We immersed ourselves everything from F1 racing to folk song karaoke and gingerbread icing. In this ultimate week-long castle hostel itinerary, we show you a route you can do if you want to be the king of the castle.

Our Castle Hostel Route

Day One: Burg Bilstein and Sauerland

The 13th century Burg Bilstein in Lennestadt isn’t the most impressive of the castles on our tour but it is definitely one of the most characterful; a frog in the well is just one of the humorous touches. You’ll also find crows tangled onto the walls and suits of armour standing to silent attention beneath the grand wooden staircase and chandelier. Strange instruments hang on the walls which you are invited to play and outside the bedrooms an artist has been hard at work creating scenes with damsels and knights. While we were there a scouting convention meant just about everyone else was dressed as Harry Potter and doing Hogwarts related activities, yet this didn’t seem out of place at all.

Take a look at this video to get a sneak peek of what you’ll find in Burg Bilstein:

Burg Bilstein Youth Hostel - Take a look around this great German Castle Hostel - YouTube

Things to see and do Boating and blobbing

There are some imaginative attractions in the immediate vicinity of the hostel, including the annual Karl May Wild West Festival, and the Galileo park – Sauerland’s creative version of the Pyramids. But many people visit this region for the outdoors. There are a huge range of hiking trails as well as great biking and boating. We split our time here into two and began at Sauerland’s Biggesee reservoir. We hired a pedalo at Sondern and swam off the back of it into the cool, still, reservoir waters. If you fancy the thought of bouncing on inflated pillows on the water you can head over to the nearby Blobbing Station. But we had our eye on the family run Gaststube Zum Minigolf where staff gave us refreshments before sending us off uphill with balls and clubs towards the perfectly formed mountain church; Kapelle Hanemicke.

Relaxing on a pedalo on the Biggesee at Sondern, Sauerland, Germany

Barefoot walking

An hour’s drive (60kms) from the hostel lies Winterberg, a winter resort town in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. We had fun tobogganing down the Sommerrodelbahn toboggan run before going barefoot at the nearby Langewiese Barfusspfad. At this simple, free to enter barefoot park we picked our way around 13 stations, feeling the earth between our toes, and the chippings and pebbles beneath our feet. If you are more of shoes-on kind of person then bring your trainers and bike straight to Bikepark Winterberg. The newest mountain biking run, Flow Country, is 1.6kms long and there’s a lift to get you up to the top.

Read our post on flying around a magical destination for more ideas: 48 hours at Burg Bilstein – Sauerland: Activities, Adventures and Castle Magic

Barefoot Park – the little pebbles are the worst!

Day 2: Burg Blankenheim and the Eifel

You’ll need an early start to fit in all the activities on day two of your road trip. Skip breakfast and drive the 160kms to Burg Blankenheim as it’ll take you about two hours to reach the rural hostel, situated in the Eifel National Park. This is a 10,700 hectare volcanic landscape filled with wildlife including wildcats, black storks and around 1,600 endangered species of animals and plants. The Youth Hostel is in Grafenberg castle, above the village of Blankenheim; a beacon of white and charcoal on a hilltop. (We soon discovered they are almost always on a hilltop.) The Burg was built as a hill castle around 1115 but it was most famous as the seat of the Blankenheim family who were elevated from Lords to Counts in the 1300’s. We stayed in a special family apartment in the grounds of the castle with self-catering facilities, a TV and comfy sofas. The main hostel building is light and airy and its walls are studded with interesting objects and images.

Check out our video where we collected our first impressions of the Burg:

A look around Burg Blankenheim - a DJH German Castel Hostel - YouTube

Things to see and do Biking in the wild Eifel

We hired bikes to see as much as possible of the huge and wild Eifel park. Elektro Fahrradverleih Eifel provided us with five shiny bikes with bells and they will deliver to the hostel to save you time on a packed day. We biked a 12km circuit that lasted two hours but there are lots of different trails and paths. Our route took us through beech forest along flat gravel tracks. At the halfway mark we had ice creams at Cesars Ice Café Serafin in Nettersheim. If you have more than a day in the area, check out the mountain bike routes of the Eifel Free Rides or Bad Münstereifel. For families there’s an easy non circular route called the Eifel Radweg following old railway lines.

Cycling in the Eifel National Park

A race around the Nürburgring

A visit to the Eifel region might be an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city but it’s not all peace and quiet and natural pursuits. Around 40kms from Burg Blankenheim you’ll find one of world’s most famous Formula One circuits. The Nürburgring has a 20.832 km track, The North Loop (Nordschleife) which winds around Nürburg village and medieval castle. It was so lethal that Jackie Stewart nicknamed it The Green Hell. These days, races happen on the 5.148km Grand Prix track. We attended The Nürburg Old Timer rally; a classic car race day. We watched the racing, toured the pits and had a go at the linked up simulators. On days when there’s no racing you can drive around the legendary Nordschleife track, hiring a car and/or an instructor to navigate the 20.832 kilometers, 73 curves, 17 percent gradient, and 300 meters difference in altitude.

Parade at Nurburgring Old Timers Classic

Day 3 and 4: Burg Stahleck and The Rhine

172km from Burg Blankenheim, Burg Stahleck sits in an impressive position on the Rhine above the town of Bacharach. It’s hard to beat this castle for its romantic appearance and outlook, or as a base for a couple of days exploring. And castles aren’t exactly scarce round here; on a 65km stretch we find more than 40 defences. Since 2002 the Upper Middle Rhine Valley has been recognised as a UNESCO site of World Heritage significance; there are more than sixty small and interesting towns, with the river as its glittering centrepiece.

Burg Stahleck in Bacharach

A room with a view

Situated on a hill (yes that again!) Burg Stahleck is filled with rooms with spectacular views. You might see the river from the top of the tall round tower or you may see it from one of the fun family rooms, fitted out with wooden castle themed bunk beds. Our room even has its own lookout. This is a classic castle stay; with a half moat and a high princess tower that the hostel manager gave us a sneak peek of. Inside there are lots of ways to entertain yourself including games room, pinball machine room and bistro. One of the highlights of your stay will undoubtedly be watching the sun go down from the terrace over evening drinks. Then later, watching the stars.

Follow our journey around Burg Stahleck in this video:

Burg Stahleck in Bacharach - Hide and Seek in a Fairy Tale German Castle Youth Hostel - YouTube

Things to do Day 3: Andernach and Koblenz

Day 3 has a packed itinerary so another early start may be in order. Do you like bubbles? We do, so we jumped at the chance of viewing the world’s tallest cold water geyser in Andernach, 70km from Burg Bacharach. There’s loads to do at Geysir Andernach. We explored a great educational exhibition, learning about the origin of the geyser by following trails of bubbles. Then we took a boat trip along the Rhine to the nature reserve where we watched the Andernach geyser explode 60 metres into the air, powered by volcanic carbon dioxide.

Then it was off to Koblenz, 20kms away, where we explored historic Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, flew over the river by cable car – spotting the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel at Deutsches Eck, and had tea in the Electoral Palace gardens. We also sang folk song karaoke about the Loreley (more about her in a moment) at the kid-friendly Romanticum exhibition at the Forum Confluentes in the centre of Koblenz.

Cafe in the garden at Schloss Koblenz

Day 4: Loreley and her rocky cliff

Day four began, as all fabulous days do, with a toboggan ride. As we whooshed down the hill we looked forward to learning more about a beautiful and legendary woman. The Loreley rock sits above one of the narrowest and deepest parts of the Rhine, where currents get strong and navigation hard. It’s named after a legendary maiden, Loreley, who used to sit on the rock, combing her golden hair and singing, distracting sailors and causing shipwrecks below. Out at the viewpoint we got great views down onto the Rhine with its endless procession of freight and passenger boats. Although we listened hard we didn’t hear Loreley sing. Thankfully the Koblenz Romanticum exhibition sent our karaoke versions to our phones so could play them back if we felt like it. Thankfully for others we didn’t!

Check out our full post on Burg Stahleck and The Rhine here.

Quick descent of the Summer Toboggan Track at the Loreley

Day 5 and 6: Nuremberg hostel and city

It’s a four hour drive to Nuremberg from Bacharach town so unless your tuition at the racing circuit gave you super powers you are unlikely to arrive much before the afternoon of day 5. And as this hostel is one of the most comfortable and modern we suggest you base yourself here for a couple of days. There’s loads to do in the city and if you buy a city card it lasts for 48 hours and gives you free access to many of the museums and attractions.

You’ll love Nuremberg…and it’s food and drink

Room in the stable

Nuremberg DJH hostel lies immediately beneath the Imperial Castle. The former castle stables provide high ceilings, giant square pillars, grand staircases and wooden beams galore. Canteen style meals are taken in the bistro where you can also chill out with a good German beer or a cocktail. Long low wooden benches with square stools and tables set into red brick arches provide gathering points and places to play board games. Arched windows lead out into a courtyard with tables and umbrellas. It all comes together to provide a modern city base that feels buzzy and alive. Facilities include 93 smart en-suite bedrooms, all with en-suite shower and toilet.

Check out our video to see what it’s like to stay in a modern yet historic city hostel like Nuremberg:

Look Around Nuremberg Youth Hostel - What's it like to stay in modern city hostel? - YouTube

Things to see and do Day 5: Nuremberg’s Imperial Castle

For your first day in Nuremberg, concentrate on the most famous landmark – the Imperial Castle or Kaiserberg. With a base in the youth hostel, you’ll be there in five minutes. You can take a self guided tour of the castle, which was one of the most important of the Roman Empire. Check out the Sinwell Tower with a winding wooden staircase and one of the best views of the city. We loved the Well House with fun demonstration of its depths.

At the end of the day we headed into town to sample the famous Nuremberg sausage. The Nürnberger bratwurst must be no longer than 9cm and no heavier than 25g. Chefs have been making the sausage for the last 700 years and a good place to try some is the Bratwursthausle, a traditional hostelry under the Sebaldus Church. Food is simple and cheap – basically a little row of sausages on a tin plate with potato salad and bread cooked on a beech wood fire. It was so good we ate there twice.

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Been awhile since I launched a giveaway on the BudgetTraveller but trust me, this giveaway is definitely worth the wait.

Prynt Pocket: An instant iPhone photo printer

I’ve teamed up with the innovative cool peeps at Prynt to give you the chance to win a Prynt Pocket – an ultra-portable device that transforms your iPhone into an instant camera, printing really good quality photos.

I am a fan also of Fujifilm’s Instax cameras but the problem there for me has been the affordability of the instant photo paper.

Pack of 20 photo sheets for FujiFilm comes in at $15.99 while a pack of 40 sheets of Prynt is just $19.99

One of the innovative features of the Prynt that it carries no ink or toner in the device. The special zero ink paper they use is activated by a thermal heating technology in the device.

Other v.cool feature about the photographs is that they’re stickers which means you can print and stick them in your travel journal or on the back of your iPhone or your laptop.

The Prynt Pocket retails for $149.99 via Amazon and also in stores at Urban Outfitters + Best Buy. The Pocket comes with 10 sheets of photo paper in the box.

So details of the giveaway!

I am giving away a beautiful lavender coloured Prynt Pocket!

To enter is pretty simple

1. Please hop over to my Instagram page, BudgetTraveller and give me a like. Not just rosy sunsets , naked butts and turquoise blue seas: you’ll find real travel pictures and also some useful tips and hints to save you money on your next trip.

2. Please comment with your Instagram handle, say anything funny and tag a friend if you like them to have a chance to win: happiness is always possible when shared!

Last date of entries is 1 week from now: Friday 15th September, 5pm. Winner will be announced and noticed via Instagram DM’s at 6pm so please keep an eye out for a message that day!

Good luck and have a fab weekend!

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Lively. Vibrant. Colourful. Room007 Chueca is one of the best hostels in Madrid. The hostel is very much a reflection of its neighbourhood. The rooms are minimalistic and have been tastefully designed by renowned Spanish design group Requena & Plaza. The hostel feels very much like a boutique hotel not like a hostel. Plus it is home to a fantastic restaurant, Saporem which is popular with locals and tourists alike. Location

The hostel Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. is in the triangle of Gran Vía, Malasaña and Chueca close to the most popular attractions and monuments of the Madrid. You are a 4-minute walk from the Sevilla metro station,  9 minutes from the Museo del Prado (art museum) and a 11 minute walk from the Plaza Mayor (city square). You are surrounded by fashionable boutiques, historic tabernas and rooftop bars, great clubs ( fabulous jazz club Bogui is just around the corner on Calle del Barquillo ) plus a host of great places to eat.

Rooms and bathrooms

Room007 Chueca Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. has 32 rooms divided into doubles or dorms of 4 to 11 beds. The coolest dorms here are the spacious duplex rooms with ceiling windows. Every guest has a storage locker that can be opened and closed with your own keycard. Plus as is standard with all good hostel dorms, you have a reading light and power point by the bed.

All rooms here are en-suite. Bathroom have power showers. Towels and linen are included in the price for all guests.


Besides the clean and minimalistic design of the hostel, the other key feature of this place is the roof top terrace. The terrace is adjoined to a fully equipped kitchen and also a chillout lounge area with TV. There are lots of beanbags scattered around to relax on,  read a book or if you are feeling more energetic, there is a foosball table where you enact the bitter Madrid derby: Real Vs Atletico. It is a good place to meet fellow guests. If its a sunny day which is highly likely in Madrid, you can sit on the outdoor terrace with an ice cold beer or enjoy your breakfast in the morning.

The hostel also has a full lineup of daily events : this include daily walking tour and pub crawls, flamenco workshops, roller skating, cycling and tapas tasting. Some of these arefree.

The hostel’s staff is a mix of local and international travellers who all speak English and a number of languages so you should have no issues. I found them to friendly and very helpful in terms of tips. I couldn’t find the time to do either their walking and pub tours but heard positive things about these tours from fellow guests.

Other key things to note. The hostel provides super fast, free Wi-Fi of upto 300 Mbps in all rooms of the hostel. For a small fee of €3, the hostel  provides guests with a simple but classic Madrid breakfast of churros, bread and coffee or milk.

The hostel has an excellent in-house restaurant called Saporem. If you want a break from Spanish food and looking for something modern but varied , this is a good place to visit. Start your meal with one of their excellent mojitos. They do stone baked pizzas and delicious pastas. I enjoyed their chicken curry while my friend had their steak tartar which he really enjoyed. Great value, great service and a nice ambience-highly recommend.

Why is this a luxury hostel?

The design and style makes this one of the best hostels in Madrid. It has an outstanding location in one of Madrid’s coolest neighbourhoods plus features like the rooftop terrace and the in-house Saporem restaurant add to the fun factor.


Booking via Hostelworld.com Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. , a bed in their mixed dorms starts from €15.50 while the doubles are around €75 mark. Prices may be cheaper or higher according to season. 

Calle Hortaleza 74, 280004 Madrid


Here’s a behind the scenes look at the hostel for those of you planning to visit this hostel. For more videos of Luxury Hostels, please subscribe to my Youtube channel

More Madrid inspiration?

24 Hours in Madrid

Cheap Eats Guide to Madrid

TOC Hostel Madrid Madrid’s finest design hostel

Room007 Chueca Hostel in Madrid review - YouTube

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Another year is over. Where did the time go?

While its a great time time to reflect and look back at the year that was it is also a pretty good time to anticipate, start planning ahead and visualise all those potential amazing adventures that await you in 2018. To help give you some ideas of where to go in 2018, I’ve put together ( with the help of the fantastic Midori Patterson ) a list of new luxury hostels you should checkout in 2018. If you missed last year’s update, here was my list of luxury hostels to checkout in 2017.

If you know of any new luxury hostels opening soon, please comment below or tweet me @BudgetTraveller Thank you!

Native Hostel Location: Austin, TX, USA

With a dark and stormy atmosphere representative of Austin’s western charm, the Native Hostel Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. boasts an eclectic array of activities ranging from yoga classes to bar crawls, from tarot readings to DJs. Native puts tremendous effort into cultivating their culture – which, according to their website, is one of “fuck yes” – and is the perfect place for the curious and creative traveler.

Native Hostel, Austin Buy Now Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Freehand Los Angeles Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA

Placed in a historic building in downtown Los Angeles, Freehand Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. strives to create a comfortable respite without losing any of the city’s vibrance. While their location and events at their rooftop pool might scream downtown LA, this hostel’s laidback environment, warm décor, and onsite florist are more welcoming in contrast with the overwhelmingness of the city.

Freehand Los Angeles Buy Now Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.


Option BE Cordoba Location: Cordoba, Spain

Option Be Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. in Cordoba is the perfect place to soak up the Andalusian sun, whether that be on the rooftop pool or near the open central atrium. The immaculate all-white interior design is an inspiring setting to plan your adventures – or you can just leave the planning to the friendly English speaking staff and join one of their daily activities.

Option Be Hostel, Cordoba Buy Now Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Steel House Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Steel House Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. is aptly named as this industrial chic aesthetic is reflected everywhere, from its shiny pod-like bunks to its “turbo dishwasher”. They have everything the trendy urbanite could need: pool, café, bar, and even a gym where the staff arrange weekly workout sessions. But don’t be fooled – despite its modern feel, Steel House still strives to deliver the famous Danish “hygge” and you can experience it firsthand cozied up next to their fireplace.

Steel House Hostel, Copenhagen Buy Now Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Book and Bed Hostel Location: Tokyo, Japan

The noise, color, and crowds of Tokyo can be overwhelming, and tourists may find themselves wanting to just curl up somewhere cozy with a good book. Well, why not just curl up in a bookshelf itself? At Tokyo’s Book and Bed Hostel Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. , guests sleep in bunks that are located within the hostels bookshelf. Be warned though – this place values experience above comfort. Though they admit on their website that “the perfect setting for a good night’s sleep is not what you will find here” they offer in exchange “the finest moment of sleep” dozing off obliviously during your treasured pastime – reading.

Book and Bed, Tokyo Buy Now Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Long Story Short Olomouc

Location: Olomouc, Czech Republic

The high, white, arched ceilings of Long Story Short Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. make you feel like you’re in a cloud. Combine that with climbing up sleek large stairs to the lofted beds in the dorm rooms (this hostel “doesn’t believe in bunks” – you’ll only find them in the 10-person dorms) and you’re sure to feel like you’re in a dream. The historic building also features an in house café that serves delicious Moravian food and baked goods, local wine, beer and coffee. Additionally, downstairs is home to Vault42, an equally beautiful co-working space.

Long Story Short Olomouc Buy Now Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Ho36 Location: Les Menuires, France

Affordable, stylish accommodation for in a French ski town is no longer a thing of daydreams. The established French hostel company ho36 Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. is opening a new location (Dec. 10, 2017) in Les Menuires, just a few meters away from the Croisette. It features two bars and a restaurant, all adorned with wood furnishings that give that cozy ski lodge feel with a contemporary twist.

ho36 Les Menuires Buy Now Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

LetsBunk Poshtel Location:  New Delhi

Backpacking in Asia is now as classy as anywhere else. Welcome to LetsBunk Poshtel Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. India’s first luxury hostel, encapsulating a blend of old and new, of relaxation and collaboration. While the inside is clean and modern, one needs only to venture to the sunny deck to overlook the forest and for views of 13th century buildings. They also feature a gourmet café that transitions into a coworking space that makes it the perfect environment for creative travellers and nomadic businessmen/women.

Lets Bunk Poshtel Buy Now Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Sputnik Hostel and Personal Space Location: Moscow

“Personal Space” doesn’t necessarily mean seclusion at this centrally located Moscow hostel Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. . While you can certainly retreat to a private room or the privacy curtains of your bunk, Sputnik’s owners designed the open-aired common room and kitchen area to be a collaborative, intimate space. With its small size, visa support service, and complementary pair of slippers, you’re sure to feel personally welcomed. Additionally, Sputnik has the unique feature of double-bunk beds, so you and your partner can share a space without splurging on a private.

Sputnik Hostel and Personal Space Buy Now Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Hostel ROOM Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands

The recently refurbished Hostel ROOM Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. exudes energy and fun. If their 17 colourful themed rooms, open mic ( fantastic quiz nights too ) nights, and happy hours aren’t enough to keep you entertained, then certainly their bike rentals and free walking tours will. If you’re looking for something a little more private (and unique!), Hostel ROOM offers an apartment inside their clock tower with its own kitchenette and a beautiful all-white interior. The tower’s round windows provide amazing views of the rooftops of Rotterdam. Regardless of where you sleep, be sure to get a free hug from their four-legged resident Lexie.

Hostel ROOM, Rotterdam Buy Now Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

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