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I don’t usually write about hotels on this site, because I don’t want to get into the business of doing hotel reviews. I have been prodded by many people to at least give a list of my favorite places I’ve stayed in the last 4 years, so I figure I’d give it a go. I also don’t normally do lists, but considering this is a list made up of things I’ve actually done, I figure I’ll cut myself some slack.
I should note upfront that these are not necessarily the “best” hotels. I have not done an extensive review of hotels in any city. This is a totally subjective listing based on my personal experiences.
None of these hotels would be considered a luxury or 5-star establishment. In fact, in one particular case, it was down right nasty. What they all have in common is that they have stuck out in my mind over time. Sometimes it might be the location, sometimes it might be the people I met and other times it might be the management of the hotel which made it memorable.
You will notice a heavy bias towards properties in the Asia/Pacific region. There is a good reason for this. I try to find the cheapest place I can that has wifi and where I can get a private room. In Europe, the private rooms in hostels are usually more expensive than just getting a room at a cheap hotel, so much of the communal experience of a hostel was lost on me in Europe. Also, the European hotels weren’t so cheap as to really stick out.
I can’t guarantee that you will have a similar experience if you visit the same place. In fact, some of these properties have negative reviews on TripAdvisor. I would, however, gladly return to stay at any of the places I’ve listed.
I should also note that I paid for every one of my stays in each property listed. None of my nights were comped or were part of a media trip.
In no particular order:
The Village, Pohnpei, Micronesia
I stayed at The Village in 2007 during my brief stay in Pohnpei. Right away I knew this was special. The wood in the bungalows has the smell of wood, the bed was a waterbed, freshly picked flowers were in the room and fresh local fruits and fish were on the menu in the restaurant.
The Village is owned and operated by Patti, Bob and their son who are American expats who have lived on Pohnpei for 40 years. In addition to the bungalows, they also have a restaurant and dive shop on the property. I didn’t go diving on Pohnpei but did manage to take a trip to Nan Modal, which is something I’d easily place on my list of the wonders of the world.
Rates are probably the highest for any of the properties on this list, but cheap in comparison to what you would pay at a comparable resort in Tahiti or Bora Bora. Expect to pay between $100-127/night for a bungalow. Reviews from Trip Advisor
Puri Cendana Resort, Bali, Indonesia
This is a place I stayed at totally by chance. I arrived in Bali after midnight by bus and I had no place to stay. I got a cab driver and told him to take me somewhere which was good and cheap. They took me to the Puri Cendana Resort. I was originally planning to stay for just a day or two while I worked out other accommodations, but I ended up staying there for my entire stay.
It is located in Seminyak which is north and away from the main tourist area of Kuta in Bali. It is about 1 block from the beach and easy walking distance to an internet cafe and restaurants. The one thing which really stuck out in my mind about this property was the gigantic stone bath tub. It was so large it reminded me of an Egyptian sarcophagus. The room itself was very nice with a canopy bed.
Cost per night is rather high compared to the places on this list. The website gives published rates of $80-135/night, but if you bother to do the conversion on their internet rates, you’ll find that you can get the same rooms for $84-60/night. $60/night is what I paid when I showed up in the middle of the night without a reservation. Reviews from Trip Advisor.
Kosrae Village Ecolodge and Dive Resort, Kosrae, Micronesia
Kosrae Village Ecoresort shares many similarities with the Village in Pohnpei: it’s in Micronesia, it is run by an American expat couple, they have a similar name and they both are great properties. It should say something that for a country as small as Micronesia it has two hotels on this list.
Every building on the property was built by local builders, using local materials and traditional construction techniques. They have an on-site restaurant and also run a dive shop. The complimentary lime cordial is what really stood out in my memory.
Rates on their website range from $119-169/night for an oceanside bungalow, but they often run specials which can reduce the price. Reviews from Trip Advisor
Sakura Hostel, Tokyo, Japan
Of all of the true hostels I’ve stayed at, I enjoyed my time at the Sakura Hostel in Tokyo the most. Located in the Asakusa neighborhood of Tokyo, is a large pink building which boasts of being the largest hostel in Tokyo. I have no reason to doubt their claim.
It is very similar to many of the large hostels you will find in Australia or Europe. What stood out for me was the people I met and the beer vending machine. I don’t often meet many Americans during my travels but for whatever reason I did meet many Americans in Japan. In particular, I met an American rap group which was performing in Tokyo and was staying at the hotel.
The wonder of a beer vending machine should not be underrated. So long as you have a pocket full of yen, the bartender is always there for you. I stayed up several nights discussing the issues of the world over vending machine beer with travelers at the hostel.
Everything is expensive in Tokyo, especially so now that the yen has gotten so strong. You can expect to pay $102/night for a single room and $36/night for a dorm bed. Prices were much less when I was there in 2007 because of the dollar/yen exchange rate. Reviews from Trip Advisor
1848 Princess Tui Inn, Apia, Samoa
The Princess Tui Inn was my home away from home when I was in Apia. While not in the middle of the Apia business district, I found it was an easy walk from the property. (Apia is not a big city).
My finest memory of my stay was getting drunk on the veranda one night with a biologist from North Carolina and a student from the Netherlands, watching geckos hunt moths and insects around electric lights on the ceiling.
Samoa didn’t have a very good internet connection to the rest of the world when I was there, but since then they got connected with fiber. I would like to return just to see how things are now.
Single rooms can be had for $29/night with double rooms for $36/night. Dorm rooms can be had for $19/night. Prices include breakfast. Reviews from Trip Advisor
Waya Lailai Eco Resort, Fiji
I have actually stayed at the Waya Lailai ecoresort twice now: once in 2007 and once in 2010. Waya Lailai is one of the islands in the Yasawa chain which is accessible by boat from Nadi, location of the international airport.
To get to Waya Lailai you have to take the Yasawa Flyer which is run by Awesome Adventures Fiji. The boat price is separate from the price of the room for any of the resorts in the Yasawa islands. The cost of the boat ticket is $215 for 7 days.
Quoted rates from their website are $80/night for a bure (bungalow) and $33/night for a dorm bed, but I’m pretty sure you can get cheaper rates if you reserve rooms on the boat. This price does include three meals a day, so unless you want to buy some drinks, this is an all inclusive price. Reviews from Trip Advisor
Livingstone Lodge, Bangkok, Thailand
The Livingstone Lodge is literally the only place I have ever stayed in Bangkok. Located on Sukhumvit Soi 33, Livingstone is a small, boutique hotel located away from the bustle of the street. The owner is a German day trader, so the internet connection is very good and free. (which is obviously the big attraction for me)
There is a Thai/Western restaurant, bar and swimming pool on the property. There is aslo a sports bar which has your typical assortment of Thai bar girls. Unlike most bars in Bangkok, however, the bar is separated from the rest of the property and if you don’t enter, you’d really never even know it was there.
One of the reasons I love staying at Livingstone is that the entire staff knows me and welcomes me whenever I return. I will be staying here again in December.
I’ve spent more time here than any other place on this list. Rooms are very clean with most having a bathtub and shower. Rooms start at $55/night, but you can get a significant discount if you stay more than two weeks (which I usually do). This is higher than what you will pay for Bangkok, but cheap compared to the rest of the world. Breakfast is included in the cost. Reviews from Trip Advisor
My My Art House, Saigon, Vietnam
I got off the bus from Cambodia and arrived in Saigon without any place to stay. Waiting at the bus was a woman with a book of photos of her guesthouse. I asked her the price and if she had wifi. She gave me a price, said yes to the wifi and we hard ourselves a deal.
I ended up staying there for three weeks.
There isn’t much special about the My My Art House. It is run by a family who lives on the first floor. You can see them sleeping if you come in late at night. I was quite and clean so the family took a liking to me.
The cost for a private room was $15/night which included breakfast, which I never ate. There are several nice restaurants in the area and I certainly enjoyed myself if I was willing to stay there for three weeks.
The Chungking isn’t a very nice place to stay. In fact, you could pretty much call it a dump. That being said, the Chungking stands out in my memory as one of the most amazing places I’ve ever stayed.
For starters, the Chungking Mansion isn’t a hotel. It’s a building with several dozen hostels and guesthouses inside. In fact, I can’t even tell you what the name of the place I stayed at was. They are all pretty much the same.
While the conditions aren’t very nice, they are the cheapest you will find in Hong Kong. I got a private room for around $20/night. You will also see a wide variety of people in the Chungking. The ground floor has restaurants and shops with people from all over the world.
One day I’m quite sure I will wake up to find there was a fire at the Chungking which killed hundreds of people. Until then, it is a place I’d highly recommend everyone visit, even if you have no desire to stay there.
Hotel Augustus, Rome
This is the only one of two European hotels on my list. My one indulgence when traveling is that I don’t like to stay in dorm rooms. In Europe, I’ve found that the cost of a single room in a hostel is usually more than the cost of a room in a guesthouse or two-star hotel.
The hotel is actually located on the second floor of an office/residential building. The rooms are new and clean with free wifi. The rooms are very small, but you probably wont be spending much time in your room if you are in Rome.
The Hotel Augustus makes my list because it is cheap and good. The cost of my room was €60/night, which was not only cheap, but cheap for the quality of room I stayed in. From the reviews I’ve seen, you can expect to pay more than €60 during the high season. Reviews from Trip Advisor
The Antigallican Hotel, London
Yes, the word “antigallican” means “anti-French”. That aside, the Antigallican Hotel was the one of the cheapest options I could find in London that was still near a train line.
Located only a block away from the Charlton Station, it is easy to get to Central London and it is also in close proximity to the O2 Dome. Its location is easily its biggest feature.
The building itself is old and the rooms are nothing special. There is a common area/kitchen which is available to guests if you want to cook your own food. There is also a kebob stand nearby if you want something to eat.
Rates range from £55-85/night for a room depending on the size and number of beds. Dorm beds can be had for £14. Reviews from Trip Advisor