You've often heard that you don't have to spend a fortune to travel, and we're here to prove it. For those who don't mind sacrificing a central location, or are perfectly fine sharing a room with strangers, there are ample budget-friendly accommodations in popular cities around the world. We plugged in travel dates for May 7 to May 8 to find the cheapest hotels with availability. Not surprisingly, they're almost all hostels -- and not the cleanest, most modern properties. Scroll down to see the cheapest hotels in places like London and Cancun, and where we think you should stay instead for a still affordable (but more enjoyable) getaway.
1. New York City: World Hotel
The World Hotel in New York City should not be designated a hotel: It is a hostel, and not a good one. Cleanliness issues are apparent throughout the property, with heaping garbage bags in the stairwell and stains covering most surfaces. All rooms are small, and only some have private bathrooms. Most share bathroom space with others in the hall. There are no on-site amenities or features to speak of.
Instead, check out the Broadway Hotel & Hostel. Located in the Upper West Side, it's fairly close to Central Park and the subway is located just two short blocks away. The hotel is low on frills, but you can rely on free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour snack shop, spacious lounges with a kitchenette, and cozy, colorful rooms with pristine bathrooms.
2. Madrid: High Tech Nueva Castellana
The High Tech Nueva Castellana is an upper-middle-range, business-friendly hotel situated in a fairly desolate neighborhood in northern Madrid. Rooms are large and strive for a modern feel, but are starting to show their age, and furnishings look more cheap than chic. However, the hydro-massage showers, iPod docks, computers and flat-screen TVs are luxe touches, and some rooms even offer stationary bikes. Property amenities are few, but it's an adequate pick for business travelers who need to be close to the airport and want to avoid the city center.
Though the above hotel is a solid option, we think the Eurostars Suites Mirasierra is a slightly better value. The all-suite hotel has several spacious, well-appointed accommodations and ample meeting spaces. Though the neighborhood lacks dining options, the sunny lobby atrium, poolside cafes, lobby bar and Japanese/Spanish fine dining restaurant offer great alternatives.
3. Cancun: Hostel Mundo Joven
The Hostel Mundo Joven in downtown Cancun is a no-frills budget hostel with a festive party atmosphere and a central location, and provides exactly what it advertises. The hostel staff do what they can to add activities and flair for the guests, with free walking tours and hand-painted decorations on the walls, but some guests complain about the dated hostel's grime and wear and tear. Guests have a range of accommodation options, from segregated men and women dormitories, to shared dorms, to private rooms, to a room with its own whirlpool and fold-out sofa.
It's a little more expensive, but the Mezcal Hostel Hotel is worth it. Opened in 2014, it has a festive atmosphere backed by the Party Rocker tour agency that owns and operates the hostel, and a reputation for being the place to go for those seeking evening socializing. Prices are higher than at other downtown hostels, but for a reason; the rooms here are nicer, and the rates cover breakfasts and dinners by the pool, nightly themed events, and barbecues every Sunday.
4. London: The Pride of Paddington
Travelers on tight budgets who want to stay in central London will find The Pride of Paddington -- a dormitory-style, five-room hostel -- a decent option, albeit with a few caveats. Rooms can be noisy, and only one of the rooms has its own bathroom, while the others have bunk beds and a shared bathroom. The interiors, cheerful and basic, could do with a bit of cleaning and repainting. A full English breakfast is served for free, and guests receive discounts for other meals and drinks at the on-site pub.
For travelers who don't mind being outside the center of London, the Glenlyn Guest House is a smarter-than-most, family-run B&B in the pleasant, residential suburbs of North London. Rooms are simple, but clean and well-equipped for this sort of property, with large TVs and free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is also included, and free on-site parking is a bonus.
5. Miami: SoBe Hostel
South Beach Hostel is an inexpensive alternative in pricey Miami, and it's cleaner and newer than most hostels. It has all the usual hostel amenities, including four- and eight-bed dorms, small private rooms, lounge space, and a communal kitchen. Extras include laundry facilities, an Internet cafe, free Wi-Fi, an outdoor terrace, bicycle rentals, free continental breakfast, free dinner, and a free airport shuttle. However, beds aren’t the most comfortable, many rooms are windowless, and Wi-Fi is only available in common areas.
Sure, it's more expensive, but the Sobe You Bed & Breakfast is a tranquil hideaway that's still close to the action. The all-white rooms are clean and comfortable with huge TVs, but not much space overall. Free breakfast is served by the outdoor pool set in a lovely courtyard.
6. Patong: Club Bamboo Boutique Resort and Spa
Club Bamboo Boutique Resort and Spa is a 47-room, mid-range property set within lush jungle terrain overlooking Patong Bay, within a mile of Patong Beach. Rooms come with minibars, and are elegantly decorated with Baroque-style wood furniture. The resort has a beautiful pool shaded by leafy trees, a restaurant and bar with daily happy hour, a spa and gym, and free Wi-Fi throughout. Some guests have complained about minor maintenance problems in rooms.
Closer to the beach and with better guest reviews, the Andaman Embrace Resort & Spa is a 222-room, upscale property in the center of Patong. It has a pool with swim-up bar, as well as a spa with poolside treatment rooms. Guest rooms are nicely decorated in quiet colors, and offer pool or garden views; suites and thatched-roof cottages are also available. The resort offers family-friendly amenities, such as a kids' club and playground, and breakfast is included in the room rate.
7. Berlin: ONE80 Hostels
With 133 rooms, the ONE80 Hostel Berlin is a large youth hostel with an excellent location in Alexanderplatz near bars and restaurants. There is a modern, sleek bar and restaurant on-site serving drinks and snacks 24/7 and a club in the basement sometimes open for events. The hostel is popular with solo travelers as well as groups of travelers and backpackers. Rooms are clean with en-suite bathrooms and two to eight beds, but showers tend to leak on the bathroom floors.
Our budget Berlin pick is the 33-room Grand Hostel Berlin. It's a cut above the average for hostel accommodation, located in an historic Victorian building. It's in the hip neighborhood of Kreuzberg, opposite a picturesque canal and close to the city's nightlife scene. There's a library bar just off the lobby, and a restaurant and snack bar on-site too. Bicycles are available to rent for a fee from the front desk. There are private rooms and dorm rooms available, all of which are clean and comfortable with neutral decor.
8. San Juan: Dreams Hotel Puerto Rico
The basic Dreams Hotel is not going to impress anyone on arrival, but the friendly staff and low rates (which include taxes and breakfast) help make it a trusted, frugal gem. It's also good for long-term stays, and each room has a mini-fridge and microwave for easy meals, while others have a separate sink and one or two dining sets. Certain rooms are showing their age and experience more street noise, while the updated wing has quieter ambiance and fresher decor.
It's worth checking out the 18-room Tres Palmas Inn. It has a sunny rooftop terrace with a hot tub, a courtyard swimming pool, and is located across the street from Ocean Park Beach. A free, daily continental breakfast is served in an open-air dining room. Rooms have a residential feel and are outfitted with mini-fridges and flat-screen TVs; suites have kitchenettes and private terraces.
9. Dublin: Abbey Court
The two-pearl Abbey Court is a trendy hostel with a young, vibrant atmosphere thanks to fun murals and colorful graffiti gracing its interiors. It's a good choice for both young solo travelers and groups seeking a central Dublin location, with many attractions like the Temple Bar area within walking distance. Its 259 rooms range from private rooms, dorms for up to 24 people, and one-bedroom apartments with full kitchens. Rooms are cramped and may be noisy, while apartments lack Internet connection, but a free breakfast is a nice touch.
If you're not a fan of hostels, The Beacon Hotel is a trendy 88-room boutique that is a breath of hip, fresh air in the Dublin hotel scene. All-white rooms have fun design features including pops of color, bamboo shoots, and ornate headboards. The location is far from Dublin's tourist spots -- but close the tram (LUAS) for reaching the city center -- and parking is free. Hotel features include the Crystal Bar for cocktails, My Thai restaurant, a beer garden, and free Wi-Fi.
10. Dubai: Howard Johnson Hotel Bur Dubai
The mid-range Howard Johnson hotel, located in western Bur Dubai, is an average pick for budget-conscious travelers and families. There is nothing quite outstanding about it, but rooms are clean and feature flat-screen TVs and minibars, and rates are affordable year-round. Nice perks include a rooftop pool, a small fitness center, and three restaurants.
For only slightly high rates, the Arabian Park Hotel has 318 bright and vibrant rooms with fuchsia and marigold touches -- though some overlook a cemetery. There's also a restaurant, a pub, and a deli, meeting rooms, an Olympic-size outdoor pool, and a small fitness center.