Room at the Apartments Presidential Palace in Bratislava

25-Second Cheap Hotel Adviser – Apartments Presidential Palace, Bratislava

Just a ten-minute walk from the main train station to the north and a ten-minute stroll from the old town’s central square to the south, The Apartments Presidential Palace rank high for convenience if you plan to hoof it during your stay in the Slovak capital.

The pictures say pretty much all that needs to be said: a comfortable bed, a laid out kitchen for those who need one and a dining/work table. Free wifi, a private bath and a quiet location. The proprietor Martin is accommodating and quick with answers to any questions you may have.

Room at the Apartments Presidential Palace, Bratislava

Note: This property is very easy to recommend. But for those trying to squeeze even more from a limited budget note that my stop in Bratislava was a last minute decision so by then my choices were quite limited. With a little more pre-planning a similar private room could be found for a few euros less –but probably not much less.

Apartments Presidential Palace
Lermontovova Street No. 4,
Stare Mesto, 811 09 Bratislava, Slovakia
€33/ per night via, breakfast not included

I stayed at the Apartments Presidential Palace on 22-Jun-2014

A note about hotel scores and reviews: My ratings are based primarily on value for money — that, along with simple common decency. There’s no other way to compare a $15 a night room with one that costs $150 or more. More about Piran Cafe’s review policy.



Room, DS Za Kolumnami, Krakow

25-Second Cheap Hotel Adviser – DS Za Kolumnami, Krakow

DS Za Kolumnami
ul. Armii Krajowej 9a, 30-150 Kraków, Poland
€22/ per night via, breakfast not included

DS Za Kolumnami is a student dormitory in a beautiful modern high rise building, with a friendly staff and comfortable rooms. For € 22 per night, you could do much worse in Krakow, one of Poland’s most popular destinations.

Depending on the route you choose, it’s 3-4 kilometers from Market Square in Krakow’s old town, an enlightening hour-long stroll. The Przybyszewskiego bus stop (single journey tickets 3.80 zl) is 100 meters away, a convenient route with service every 20 minutes. A ten minute taxi ride to the main station will set you back about 20 zloty (4.80 EUR / 6.50 USD).

The building has a small restaurant with cheap but decent food –10 zloty for a hefty breakfast—and free wifi in the lobby. There’s internet in the rooms, but with cabled connections only. I’ll likely stay here again; please remind me to bring an internet cable.

And just because there was a high point of view available, a few more shots of the views from the ninth floor in each direction.

I stayed at DS Za Kolumnami from 19-22-Jun-2014

A note about hotel scores and reviews: I base everything on value for money. There’s no other way to compare a $15 a night room with one that costs $150 or more. More about Piran Cafe’s review policy.

[More Krakow-related posts] [More Poland-related posts]


Room, Pokoje Gościnne Saritas, Katowice

35-Second Cheap Hotel Adviser – Pokoje Gościnne Saritas, Katowice

Pokoje Gościnne Saritas
ul. Józefa Wolnego 14, 40-857 Katowice, Poland
€19/ PLN 80 per night via, breakfast not included

To really see Katowice, you need to be away from the center but not too far; in that regard, the €19 you’ll pay for a night in a single room at the Pokoje Gościnne Saritas will be a sound investment.

As advertised, the rooms in the four story multi-use building are simple and utilitarian but clean, with a helpful non-English speaking staff that will be thoroughly entertained by the way Polish tries to roll off your tongue. Free and decent wifi, private bath and a towel, too.

The main train station in the city center is about three kilometers away, a ten minute taxi ride (25 PLN / 6 EUR / 8.20 USD) or 25-45 minute stroll, depending on how often you stop to take photos of the less-than-inspiring socialist era architecture. There are plenty of modest shops, restaurants and cafes along nearby Gliwicka Street; if you’re feeling inordinately lazy and don’t feel like walking, the nearest tram stop is about 200 meters away.

I stayed at Pokoje Gościnne Saritas on 18-Jun-2014

A note about hotel scores and reviews: I base everything on value for money. There’s no other way to compare a $15 a night room with one that costs $150 or more. More about Piran Cafe’s review policy.


45-Second Cheap Hotel Adviser – Haus Höllental, Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Haus Höllental
Höllentalstraße 39
82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
€38/night via, local tourist tax of €2/night not included.

There is no shortage of places to lay your head in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany’s most popular winter sport destination.  At under €40/night, my guess is that you could do much worse than the Haus Höllental.

A traditional, family-run inn, the 15 rooms are comfortable and beds cozy –I was given a double— with ample sitting space that’s generally offered by hotels charging twice the price.

Breakfast was the standard bountiful fare typical of this part of Europe: a big pile of fruit, yogurt, a heaping basket of rolls, a pair of nice jams, a hard-boiled egg and a plate of cold cuts with juice, coffee or tea.

Best is the location: it’s a casual ten-minute stroll to the central Marienplatz to the north, and about five minutes to the nearest bus stop to the south. Train station to hotel was five minutes by taxi (red light not included), about €6.

Added bonus on a misty morning: the view of Kramerspitz to the north, a peak that juts 1,985m into the sky and with frost gripping the trees visible through breaks in the cloud that shrouds it, is spectacular.

I stayed at the Haus Höllental from 17-19 Feb 2014.

A note about hotel scores and reviews: I base everything on value for money. There’s no other way to compare a $15 a night room with one that costs $150. Or more. More about Piran Cafe’s review policy.

Sucre 044

Hotels, Rooms, Hostels & Beds – The Best of 2013

This was at the CasArte Takubamba hostel in Sucre, Bolivia, one of some fifty places where I laid me down to sleep in 2013. All things considered, it was my favorite accomodation of the bunch: comfortable, welcoming and staffed by genuinely nice people. If I ever return to Sucre, I will be returning here.

Since I moved to Europe in 2004 and began traveling extensively, I developed a road routine that includes taking a quick snapshot of my hotel room promptly upon arrival. I haven’t always succeeded, and have probably missed a few dozen over the years, but I was pretty good about this year. When I was putting this little slideshow together — accommodations from Ushuaia in Tierra Del Fuego to my hepatitis A bed in Boquete, Panama  —  I noticed that I only missed a couple, not counting the beds and couches of friends and relatives later on.

Viewed separately these snaps are fairly mundane. Viewed quickly, and with a soundtrack by the jovial and energetic Asian Women on the Telephone, they become slightly less mundane.


In order of appearance:

Buenos Aires, Argentina | Ushuaia, Argentina | Punta Arenas, Chile | Puerto Natales, Chile | Calafate, Argentina | El Chalten, Argentina | Los Antigos, Argentina | Chile Chico, Chile | Rio Tranquilo, Chile | Villa Castillo, Chile | Coyhaique, Chile | Puyuhuapi, Chile | Chaiten, Chile | Puerto Montt, Chile | Puerto Varas, Chile | Puella, Chile | Bariloche, Argentina | Mendoza, Argentina | Santiago, Chile | Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile | near Laguna Colorada, Bolivia | near San Juan, Bolivia | Uyuni, Bolivia | Potosi, Bolivia | Sucre, Bolivia | La Paz, Bolivia | Copacabana, Bolivia | Copacabana, Bolivia to Cusco, Peru | Cusco, Peru | Cusco to Lima, Peru | Lima, Peru | Zorritos, Peru | Puerto Pizarro, Peru | Guayaquil, Ecuador | Puerto Lopez, Ecuador | Manta, Ecuador | Jama, Ecuador | Quito, Ecuador | Popayan, Colombia | Medellin, Colombia | Cartagena, Colombia | San Blas Islands, Panama | Panama City | Boquete, Panama

And if you’re still interested, here’s another similar hotel room & view slideshow consisting of 124 snaps taken between 2007-2011.

And if you’re planning to visit Sucre, check out CasArte Takubamba. A brief write-up with plenty of photos is here.


This post was added to the Sunday Traveler blog linkup which made its debut today. Visit one of the co-hosts, Chasing the Donkey, to check out other blogs or to add your own throughout the week.

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Bedroom at the Maremonti, Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

45-Second Cheap Hotel Adviser – Maremonti, Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Maremonti Bed & Breakfast
Calle San Francisco s/n junto a La Terraza
131950 Puerto López, Ecuador

I stayed in more 60 hotels, hostels and other accommodations in 2013. All things considered Maremonti was my favorite. it was also home to my 2013 Road Office of the Year. Regrets? That my stay here and in Puerto Lopez was limited to just four nights.

It’s a lovely, peaceful place run by Mauro and Marianella, the friendliest hosts one can ask for. Set on a hill with sweeping sunset views of Puerto Lopez and its bay, it’s a casual 15-20 minute walk to the town center or a beach. My room, a small rustic apartment actually, was big and airy with a large comfortable terrace I could have enjoyed all day. Wifi reception was good throughout. All for under $20 a night (May 2013) via

Living room in the two-bedroom apartment at the Maremonti in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Living room in the two-bedroom apartment at the Maremonti in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Breakfast was fantastic, made to order, and featured fresh juices and some of Mauro’s home-made bread. And REAL coffee. With a little advance notice, they’ll prepare dinner as well (extra).

Puerto Lopez is a wonderful place, one I plan to return to one day. And I’ll be staying at Maremonti.

Great views of the Pacific from the terrace of the Maremonti in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Winner, 2013 Road Office of the Year – Maremonti, Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Note: buses and other transports will drop you off at or near the center of town. If you don’t want to walk with your bag(s), you’ll have to get a taxi to reach the Maremonti since mototaxis can’t quite make it all the way up the hill. Yes it’s a bit steep. But worth every step.

I stayed at the Maremonti from 15-19 May 2013.

A note about hotel scores and reviews: I base everything on value for money. There’s no other way to compare a $15 a night room with one that costs $150. Or more. More about Piran Cafe’s review policy.

Hostal San Blas - Quito

45-Second Cheap Hotel Adviser – Quito’s Hostal San Blas

Hostal San Blas
Caldas E1-38 y Pedro Fermín Cevallos
Quito, Ecuador

If you can’t handle a room without a real window, you can stop reading now. If that doesn’t bother you too much and the idea of a room with a private bath for as little as $15/night sounds appealing, you could definitely do worse in Quito.

Single rooms are small but not awkwardly so, there’s free and relatively decent wifi throughout the property, and if you get the room I had, complimentary coffee and tea just outside your door.

The staff were friendly, helpful and accommodating with someone available 24 hours. The latter was put to the test when I arrived at a few minutes past five in the morning, too early for my room to be ready. Without missing a beat, the owner made up one of the beds in a room two men just checked out of. “Please,” he said, “you look very tired.”

Location is key in the sprawling Ecuadoran capital, and the Hostal San Blas scores big in the location convenience department. It’s set in a nice breezy plaza which gives it its name; an excursion agency, laundry service (ask at the front desk) and a great little restaurant are about 45 seconds away.

It’s conveniently located, just about one kilometer from the main Plaza Grande and Quito’s historical center; the Basílica del Voto Nacional, the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas, is about a 10-minute stroll away.  There’s a trolley bus stop just across from the hostel’s eponymous square; two other bus and/or trolley lines are less than a five-minute walk away.

Below, a few photos of the Plaza San Blas.

(I stayed at the Hostal San Blas for six nights 24-30 May 2013).

Plaza San Blas, Quito Plaza San Blas, Quito Plaza San Blas, Quito

A note about hotel scores and reviews: I base everything on value for money. There’s no other way to compare a $15 a night room with one that costs $150. Or more. More about Piran Cafe’s review policy.

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Sucre 041

Sucre’s CasArte Takubamba, a Brief Tour

Sucre, Bolivia – I don’t normally post reviews of places I’ve stayed on this trip* and don’t plan to start now, but I will make a rare exception for the Hostal CasArte Takubamba, where I’m wrapping up a 16-night stay, today.

Everything about the sprawling hostel was inviting, from the gracefully decorated courtyard and outdoor kitchen to the spacious rooms and friendly staff. In short, relaxing start to finish. And as you may have surmised from the name and will see in the pics, visually it’s a sumptuous, energizing feast. If I ever have spaces like this at my disposal, I’ll be borrowing a few ideas.

Central courtyard, breakfast nook and outdoor kitchen

Central courtyard, breakfast nook and outdoor kitchen

My primary splurge on this trip is to book, as often as feasible, a single room. Here it set me back about USD $18 / EUR 14 a night, a decent breakfast included. Those sharing quarters paid considerably less. There are two wifi networks available, both of which work reasonably well in all public areas. The location is terrific as well; the central Plaza 25 de Mayo is only about a 10-minute stroll away, while several shops, a grocery store, a cinema, a handful of restaurants and cafés are just a short walk away.

What else? Laundry service is 15 Bolivianos per kilogram, Spanish lessons and art workshops are also available. Takubamba doesn’t have its own website, but it’s easy to find on most online booking services. Very highly recommended.

*I do however maintain an updated gallery of hotels, rooms, hostels and beds on my Facebook page.

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Hotel room at the La Surena - Bariloche, Argentina

35-Second Cheap Hotel Adviser – Bariloche, Argentina

Hosteria La Sureña   
San Martin 432
San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

There’s no shortage of low to mid-range accommodation offerings in Bariloche, among them the Hosteria La Sureña, which at about $USD 36 a night, is a solid deal in this popular Andean adventure sport gateway city.

Rooms are small but cosy and clean, the beds big enough, the staff friendly, helpful and courteous. The central Centro Civico/Civic Center and the shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake are just a short stroll away. The absolute center is perhaps a 10-minute walk, but there are plenty of places to eat, shop and plan excursions even closer.

Free and decent wifi throughout, and a basic+ breakfast is included. I would definitely return.

I stayed at the Hosteria La Sureña from 08-13 March 2013.

A note about hotel scores and reviews: I base everything on value for money. There’s no other way to compare a $15 a night room with one that costs $150. Or more. More about Piran Cafe’s review policy.

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45 Second Cheap Hotel Advisor – Istanbul

Sphendon Hotel
Akbiyik Degirmeni Sk no:46
Istanbul, Turkey

That is the view from one of the two small rooftop terraces. It’s taken with a zoom but yes, this budget hotel is really that close to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district. Pretty nice, no?

The rooms were a bit small but comfortable, there’s free wifi throughout, and the breakfast (included) was quite good, a blend of western and local, with the emphasis on the local. All that, plus a very hospitable and welcoming staff, for 35 EUR/46 USD/night (I booked through

What’s most appealing is the location, set on a quiet mostly residential street but less than a 10 minute walk from the Blue Mosque. Both the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market/Eminonu Square were a leisurely 20 minute stroll away. Nearest tram stop is Sultanahmet (2 TL per ride), roughly midway between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, is also a 10 minute walk. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants just a short walk away as well.

It’s a bit difficult to find initially, so be sure you give your cab driver the exact address. Taxi ride to the airport (40 TL/16.50 EUR/22 USD) took just over 20 minutes in mid-morning but you should probably give yourself twice that.

Oh almost forgot: the wall surrounding the courtyard is 1600 years old.

(I stayed at the Sphendon for three nights, 12-15 March 2012).

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