travel blog part 4: a home away from home

20 Jan

This travel blog series is written by friend and I as a means of sharing our advice and experience from our trip to Europe this summer. Blogs discussing research and planning, travelling with friends, and booking flights have been posted already and future blogs will discuss packing lists, what to do before you leave, daypacks, London, Paris, Nice (and surrounding area), and more! We hope you find this series interesting and useful. Comments are welcome and appreciated!


In this blog, we’ll be discussing the hotels and the one hostel we stayed in during our trip and how we booked everything. All links in the blog go to either or Hostel Bookers (except the Apex Hotel which goes to its actual site).
To start with, we planned on staying in hostels for most of our trip but we ended up staying in hotels mostly for two reasons:
  • Cost – in Paris and Nice especially, it was almost the same price or a little bit more to stay in an average hotel than share a hostel.
  • Safety and privacy – We like having our own bathrooms, ok?
In London, we stayed at two places. One near Kensington Gardens and the other nearby the Tower of London. I’m glad we switched places because we were able to experience different neighbourhoods in London and planned our trip to minimize travel time by visiting sights closest to wherever we were staying as each place was on different sides of London.
To find our one hostel, we considered its location, safety and cleanliness as our top priorities. Our hostel was Meininger Hostel and we could never remember how to properly pronounce it (my-nin-gr? main-inger?).
Our messy (but shared) hostel room. The feature photo at the beginning of this blog was taken from the balcony. Pretty sure we weren’t supposed to go out there cause the door wouldn’t open any more than the amount shown in this pic but we did it.
  • For 4 nights from August 3 -7, our total was $225 CDN for two people in a 4 person hostel room. For the price, we were pleased with it. It was clean and we had a great room with a balcony.
  • They had a buffet breakfast for 5 pounds (if I recall correctly) and it was OK. Ate a lot of beans on toast ( so British. I would say it with a British accent too…) and nutella there.
  • Would stay there again and booking on HostelBookers can be found here.
We decided to treat ourselves to a nice hotel in London upon seeing it featured in a friend’s Facebook photos, hehe. We stayed at the Apex City of London Hotel for 2 nights for a total of $343 CDN for two people. This was one was pricier but so nice. We found a deal on the Apex website for a king size room that included a nice buffet breakfast. The deal page of the Apex website can be found here. Additionally, you could check and see how the prices compare.
Ah, so nice…@ Apex
Luxe (by our standards) bathroom @ Apex. Oh hey, you can see my bag. I still can’t believe I brought everything I needed with me in that bag + purse. Packing blog to come!
NiceIn Nice, we stayed at the Campanile Hotel Nice Centre Acropolis which was located a bit of a walk from the beach but not too far from Old Nice. It was a decent hotel and reminiscent of a Best Western or Holiday Inn here in Canada. For 3 nights, it cost $368 CDN for two people. Booked through No pics.We also stayed at the Kyriad Hotel Nice Gare for 2 nights because it was close to a train station and for a change of scenery for a total of $354 CDN for two people. This one was nicer than the Campanile hotel. Booked through

Room @ Kyriad. That was Ada’s big bag. Twin beds! Yay. They were comfy. One time, Ada took a nap for 1.5 hours while I watched an Asian movie with French dubbing. I think I understood 1/4 of it.
We also stayed at the Campanile Aeroport Hotelin Nice because it was close to the airport for our early departure. For 1 night, it cost $112 for two people. Booked through was expensive…
In Paris, it was almost the same price to stay in a hotel instead of a hostel so we originally booked 5 nights at the Port-Royal hotel. It was decent for the price of $326CDN  for two people for 3 nights. We originally booked for all 5 nights but decided to switch hotels for a number of reasons:
  • A lot of shops near the area (Les Gobelins metro stop) were closed because of the August holidays so food choices were limited
  • Somewhat far from central Paris
  • No internet in the room (we had to go to McDonalds across the street for internet)
  • McDonalds (pretty sure we ate there several times…)

I would stay there again if they offered internet and during a different time of the year when shops and restaurants nearby were actually open. Forgot to take pics.

Our second hotel in Paris was the Libertel Montmartre Duperré near the Red Light District (Moulin Rouge) in Paris. It was a nice hotel and the area wasn’t that bad because there were a lot of tourists around all of the time. It was well priced because we got it last-minute. Again, no pics. I wasn’t planning this blog at the time.

Summary of Hotels and Hostels

  • Good prices and free cancellation can be found on It was easy to use and we really liked the free hotel cancellation in case we found a different hotel at a better price. Also didn’t have to deal with a language barrier when booking because it was all in English. A lot of the hotels on are free cancellation and some aren’t so make sure you know which one you are getting! There were lots of reviews on the site and we didn’t even have to check with Tripadvisor.
  • was good for hostels. There were lots of reviews and it was easy to book.
  • If you want to take a risk, you can leave hotels to the last-minute to book. I think we got a really good price on the Libertel hotel because we booked it the day before arriving. On the other hand, there is a good possibility that a lot of hotels are booked already so there are pros and cons.
  • Places that offer breakfast are handy – it was nice to not have to find somewhere to eat in the morning that wasn’t McDonalds.
  • Ideally, have an idea of where you want to go before you book hotels/hostels, or once you book your accommodations plan your days around where you are staying for convenience.

6 Responses to “travel blog part 4: a home away from home”

  1. kiran January 20, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

    you found some pretty nice places by the looks of it

    • shannon January 21, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

      because they weren’t cheap 😛


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