The Affordable European Hotel Brands That Will Save Your Trip

Hub by Premier Inn hub by Premier Inn
Every American knows the big, affordable U.S. hotel brands in their own country: Hampton Inn, Best Western, Hyatt Place, Motel 6, and others. But which brands do you look for when you need a cheap hotel in Europe? You won't find many of those North American names overseas. In the United Kingdom and Continental Europe, locals turn to different brands (like Hub by Premier Inn, pictured) when they need a clean, reliable hotel room no matter where they sleep. Take note of these brands, some of which are new to the scene; each one costs much less than most of its competition in the same neighborhoods.


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CanteenM and CitizenM London Bankside CitizenM
Dutch style hotel CitizenM is making inroads in the United States, but its origins are in Europe. The design is eclectic and modern, and lobby areas combine hangout space with  dining. This is the CanteenM at the CitizenM in the Bankside area of London, near the Tate Modern—in the morning, breakfast is served here, and in the evening, it becomes a cocktail bar that guests actually use. 

CitizenM London Bankside
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CitizenM room CitizenM
CitizenM's lobbies are effortlessly hip, but rooms are wonders of compact design: The one class of rooms isn't suited to families but they come standard with huge platform beds piled with a soft duvet, a shower/WC kisok, LED lighting that can change color according to your whim, truly fast free Wi-Fi, motor-controlled blackout curtains, a library of free streaming movies on the TV, and a bedside tablet to control everything. You'll find CitizenM in the Netherlands, London, Scotland, Paris, and New York.
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The Hoxton Hoxton Hotels
Like CitizenM, the Hoxton Hotels in London and Amsterdam (properties are often called "The Hox") are buzzing with activity in the lobby—self-caffeinators, telecommuters, creative kids getting together. Wi-Fi is free, and the lobby may even come with a hair salon or a coffee bar. This is a lifestyle brand for milennials: It's cool, but it won't break the bank.

Pictured: The Hoxton, Shoreditch, London
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No two rooms at a Hoxton Hotel are exactly alike, but amenities are standard: free Wi-Fi, an hour of free telephone calls (to anywhere) daily, loaner bikes, and a little bag of granola, orange juice, and a banana hung on your doorknob before you wake up. Each property also prides itself on advocating the best local shops and tours in its neighborhood, favoring local-owned business over corporate formula consumerism. The Hox is in London, Amsterdam, and soon in Paris and Brooklyn.

The Hoxton, Shoreditch, London
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Qbic Hotels Qbic Hotels
Radically unconventional yet inexpensive, the growing Qbic Hotel group, too, began in Holland before expanding to London's Whitechapel district. At Qbic, the ethic is about sustainable materials at affordable prices. Count on a communal lobby, free Wi-Fi, free artisan coffee machines on every floor, and an emphasis on local flavor that even carries over to the décor. Here, in the company's location in Whitechapel, London, the neon lobby sign is a greeting in Cockney rhyming slang—it means "How's your day, sweetheart?"

Qbic London City

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Qbic Hotels Qbic Hotels
You're looking at the signature of Qbic: the Qbi. Rather than renovating existing buildings excessively, it invented and builds units from sustainable materials that can be easily slotted into the rooms of the buildings it leases. Each Qbi may not be ideal for families, but for singles and couples it contains everything you need for a comfortable cheap stay: lots of plugs, a TV that's at eye level when you're in bed, and in the back, a bathroom with a hot rain shower. That yellow knot at the foot of the bed is actually a lamp fashioned from an old garden hose. Even the breakfast is organic.

Qbic London City
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Tune Hotels Tune Hotels
An import from Malaysia, Tune Hotels is growing fast based on a simple concept: Give customers a basic, clean room—often for $50 or less—and let them pay for any extras they want.
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Tune Hotels Tune Hotels
This Tune room (which is a 10-minute walk from the London Eye) has windows, but not all of Tune rooms do—they're another extra you have to pay a little more for. But if you don't need those, or the TV, or Wi-Fi, or towels, you can shave all those optional add-ons from your bill and only enjoy the one thing you want to pay for: a room maintained to a high corporate standard. Tune is in the United Kingdom, including London and Edinburgh, as well as in Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, and India.

Tune Hotels
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easyHotel room easyHotel
Like Tune Hotels, easyHotel has a pay-as-you-use-it system. At its cheapest, you get a prefabricated room without a window—the person who stays in this room opted for a splurge—but all rooms have their own bathrooms. They start cheap and prices rise the more options you add, such as Wi-Fi, TV, or housekeeping services. EasyHotel is a cousin of the bare-bones European airline easyJet.
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Z Hotels Z Hotels
Z Hotels—pronounced "Zed," of course—began in London, where cheap rooms are precious discoveries, and is expanding from there to Scotland, Liverpool. Book far enough ahead and prices can be less than US$100 a night, but even at their highest, prices are almost always a fraction of rival neighboring hotels. There's a daily free wine mixer for guests, a breakfast that includes fine cheeses and comb honey, and a casual energy that fits its price point. 

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Z Hotels room Z Hotels
Z Hotels rooms are designed to be simple and comfortable but not Spartan. Each unit has its own "en suite wet room"—or bathroom unit—enclosed in fogged glass. As with all of these new-brew budget style hotels, Wi-Fi doesn't cost a penny more.

The Z Hotels
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Ibis Hotels Accor Hotels
One of Europe's most pervasive budget brands is Ibis. These aren't terribly cool—in fact, the buildings can be downright utilitarian—but they contain everything you need in an affordable hotel, and they're all over the place. This one's the Roma Fiera location in Rome, halfway between the city and the airport, although many of its properties are smack in town. Ibis actually runs few major brands that are a little different from each other: Ibis, Ibis Styles, and Ibis Budget.
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Ibis Hotels Accor Hotels
Plain, cheerful rooms (this photo—somewhat idealized—is in the Ibis Paris Tour Eiffel Cambronne), a double bed, a bathroom with a shower, free Wi-Fi, a basic desk, and often, a simple square window—those are hallmarks of the Ibis brand. Downstairs, there's an inexpensive café for light meals and both food and a receptionist available at all hours. Because Accor Hotels, its parent company, is French, there are usually excellent baguettes served at breakfast.
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Ibis Styles Accor Hotels
Ibis Styles hotels have rooms with amenities that are just as basic as the ones in standard Ibis properties, but it costs a little more because food is included in the rate. Ibis Styles are also more likely to have family rooms and, as you can see, a little more effort has been put into personalizing the décor (here, at the Ibis Styles Madrid Prado).
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Ibis Budget room Accor Hotels
Bed, shower bathroom, TV, free Wi-Fi—that's pretty much all you get. Not even a phone. If those things are all you need, then the stripped-down Ibis Budget brand can make a trip to an otherwise expensive European city possible for you.
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Hotel F1 Accor Hotels
Accor does super-no-frills hotels that are even cheaper than its Ibis brands—that's Formule 1, or Hotel F1, which you'll find mostly in France. There aren't showers or toilets in the room; instead, there are self-cleaning units in the hall. Staff is not available at all hours, and food is by vending machine. For this, you can wind up paying less than US$40 a night in many locations.
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Motel One Accor Hotels
Distinguished by its characteristic teal accents, Germany-based Motel One is a modern delivery of a budget hotel—it aims to have style without forcing guests to pay a lot for it. The lobby space in every property, The Lounge, flips from breakfast (which costs extra) to cocktails and wine as the day wears on. This one is in its Berlin Hautpbahnhof property.
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Motel One Motel One
Rooms are nicer than to be expected at this level, but still clearly budget—bathrooms are made with black granite, for example, but only have showers. Beds are king-size, linens of Egyptian cotton. This combination of comfort and low pricing is flourishing in Germany but has also expanded to Austria, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the Czech Republic.
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Nadler Hotels Nadler Hotels
The Nadler hotels (in London and Liverpool, and growing) go for "affordable luxury" and hit the nail on the head—sane prices are charged because they don't have cost-inflators such as in-house spas, bars, or restaurants. Instead, staff makes the effort to show you truly local places to eat and hang out.
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Each Nadler room has some forward-thinking twists. Every one has a bar area like this one that dispenses free Brita-filtered water. You'll also often find a Nespresso machine for free use, which is something only the luxury hotels tend to have, and a half-hour of free phone calls to anywhere in the country. Meanwhile, the TV systems stream from a free music library, mirror movies from your laptop, walk you through the morning papers, hook you into your own free and private Wi-Fi signal, and guide you through the secrets of the neighborhood.
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hub by Premier Inn hub by Premier Inn
Technologoy is also a mainstay at hub by Premier Inn (yes, they want the H to be lowercase because it's supposed to be daring). A special app can do everything in your prefab room with prefab bathroom unit: stream from a library of free movies, control the lights, order some food, or activate the air conditioning. Hub is pretty much designed so you never have to spot another human (although its café is social and friendly). After all, check-in is by kiosk and rooms don't have windows you can see out of. But this is all about creating budget-priced cocoon in the heart of the city—the hotel's Covent Garden property is a just few doors up from Trafalgar Square.
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hub by Premier Inn Hub hub by Premier Inn
The pre-fabricated rooms in hub by Premier Inn are controlled by this bedside panel called, of course, The Hub. 
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Premier Inn Premier Inn
Hub's parent brand is Premier Inn, found all over the United Kingdom in hundreds of locations and newly in Germany. Here's a standard room; there's also a casual café downstairs. Prices are great if booked way ahead, but they're not competitive with other hotels if you wait until the last days to make a reservation.
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Travelodge Travelodge
Not related to the Travelodge of North America, the European ones are simple and reliable, if uninspiring. You get a king-size bed, a little desk, bathtub and shower, TV—but no phone, hair dryer, or toiletries. Simple, and so are prices: If you buy many months in advance you'll find prices that can be lower than US$50, but wait too long and you'll overpaying for a bare-bones room, and properties are formulaic, with little regard for local culture or attractions.
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Travelodge Euston, London Travelodge
Now that you know the names of the major European budget brands, make sure you include them in your research when you plan your next Europe trip. After all, you may not find any of these cheap hotels unless you set out to look for them—and they are almost always cheaper than the Sheratons, Hiltons, Marriotts, and Hyatts you're familiar with.

Pictured: Travelodge Euston, London
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