Cheap accommodation in the UK
Travelling on a budget needn't mean cockroaches and dirty sheets. We talk you through your best options, from couchsurfing to caravans, and yurts to youth hostels.
It may be cheap as chips and super sociable, but is staying on a stranger’s sofa really a good budget option? Many people think so, which is why several couchsurfing sites have cropped up, with the system working a lot like liftshare sites. Check out:
- Couchsurfing – The original site, and one that aims to “create deep and meaningful connections that cross oceans, continents and cultures.”
- Globalfreeloaders – Thousands of Hospitality Club members around the world help each other when they’re travelling – be it with a roof for the night or a guided tour through town.
- Roomft – works on a similar basis to couchsurfing, but offers rooms to travellers within private houses on a short-term basis.
Be warned, there are some oddballs on the sites, and you should remember the same sort of safety measures you would with, say, a one-night stand, like letting someone else close to you know the address of where you’ll be staying.
Luckily, most reputable websites offer eBay-type customer review systems so you can see how your potential stranger has been rated by others, and avoid yet-to-be-rated members, or lone males (if a single female traveller). It’s a great way to get to know a new place from the inside, and, if you’re super nice, it’s a fantastic budgeter as food may get thrown in too.
Ah the great outdoors: the freshly manure-scented air, the toilets miles away, flooded fields. OK, so it may not be everyone’s idea of fun, but camping has come a long way in a relatively short time.
All hail the pop-up tents, tents that look like tipis, and tents that really are tipis. You can even stay in a wigwam, beach hut, gypsy caravan or luxury yurt if you’re up for a bit of a splurge (they’re definitely not as cheap as the humble tent).
A tent pitch cost can range anything from nothing up to about £10 per person per night. If you can’t cope with a bit of filth, steer clear, or make sure you pick a reputable campsite with a shower and toilet block.
Not just for young German hikers, there are youth hostels across the UK offering a wide range of accommodation for any age traveller from whole mansions or castles for family gatherings to sleeping in a tipi under the stars.
The best budget options, alongside dorm beds and group bookings at the more conventional hostels, are their camping barns (stone tents), which start at £6 per person per night, and their bunkhouses, which start at £10 per person per night. Many also offer private rooms for couples at a slightly higher rate. For hostels in Scotland, visit Scottish Youth Hostel Association; in Ireland there’s the Hostelling International Northern Ireland and Irish Youth Hostel Association respectively.
Bed & Breakfasts
Brash, gossiping landladies, scratchy sheets, screaming kids and greasy fry-ups? B&Bs may have got themselves a bit of a bad rep, but search a little harder and you can find yourself some real gems. In the better ones the prices way undercut local hotels. Bonuses include themed rooms, eco-friendly options and boutique spaces, packed lunches provided on request, great views, late bookings and good beds. To suss out how good a place really is simply Google it. Everyone voices their opinions online these days. Reviews good and bad shouldn’t be too hard to find.
Photo of sign by Shutterstock
By Susie Wild
Updated on 29-Sep-2015
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