Creative Ways to Stretch Your Euros

You don't have to sleep in a drainpipe to save money . . . but you could.
You don't have to sleep in a drainpipe to save money . . . but you could. (By Dietmar Tollerian)
By Sue Kovach Shuman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 6, 2008

At the Hotel Galeno, a two-star in a quiet Rome neighborhood close to the Porta Pia, the double bed filled my room, with about eight inches to spare on three sides. To get in the shower, I wedged my body around the toilet near a salad-bowl-size pedestal sink. But the bed was comfy, the breakfast filling (Italian coffee, warm yeasty rolls and jam) and the service gracious. And with an air-hotel package offseason, I was paying less than $40 a night -- in a city where $200-plus rooms are common.

Finding affordable lodging in Europe is a challenge this summer, and you may have to sacrifice some comfort, but it can be done. In 2000, the euro and dollar were worth roughly the same; today a euro is worth more than $1.50, a 50 percent loss of buying power for Americans. Things are worse in the United Kingdom, where a British pound is worth almost $2. A survey by the online booking site showed that U.K. rooms went up 12 percent last year, making the average price in London $230 a night.

Venice is even more expensive: $250 a night. In Oslo, lodging was up 18 percent in a year, making $200 the average. Prices also jumped from 9 to 15 percent in such popular cities as Lisbon, Istanbul, Barcelona, Madrid and Milan.

But dollar pains or not, a March survey by TripAdvisor, the Web site that lets travelers rate lodging, said 50 percent of Americans who responded plan to go to Europe this year. And they don't want to pay a fortune for accommodations.

"Budget people need more guidance this year," says Mary Peters of Friendly Travel in Alexandria. "But budget travel is not impossible. Don't stay home because of it."

Amen to that. Our stories on lodging alternatives, plus tips on how to save on transportation, food and entertainment, begin here.

** Click here to Continue to "How to Sleep Cheap, From Cruises to Converts." **

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