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 kiosk, 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, France, Denmark, and a growing number of international cities.

CitizenM.com
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The Hoxton Hoxton Hotels
Like CitizenM, the Hoxton Hotels in London, Paris, 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 millennials: 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, Paris, and Brooklyn.

The Hoxton
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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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Point A Hotels Point A Hotels
Point A is like Citizen M but with lobbies that aren't such scenes. It's based on a simple concept: Give customers a basic, clean room and don't bother with too many extras or services. Some of its properties offer breakfast (they call it "brekkie") but some don't. But they're always very well located—never far out of town—and within walking distance to big attractions or big nightlife districts.
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Point A Hotels Point A Hotels
This Point A room (which is in London's cool Spitalfields district) shows what you get: an uncomplicated room maintained to a high company-wide level, with free Wi-Fi considered standard, and every unit has a power shower and a safe. This room has a window, but not all of them do. Point A is in the United Kingdom; rooms cost as little as £65 if you can score an ultra-low "Saver" rate far in advance, but usually prices are higher—so to get the most of this brand, book way ahead and do without a window.
 
Point A Hotels
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easyHotel room easyHotel
Somewhat downmarket, 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, and spreads just as wide: Britain, Bulgaria, Belgium, Hungary, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

EasyHotel
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Z Hotels Z Hotels
Z Hotels—pronounced "Zed," of course—began in London, where cheap rooms are precious discoveries, and expanded from there to Bath, Glasgow, and 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. 

TheZHotels.com
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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.

Ibis Hotels
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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).

Ibis Styles
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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.

Ibis Budget
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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.

Hotel F1
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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 Hauptbahnhof 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 across Europe, including to Austria, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Austria, and the Czech Republic.

Motel One
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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.

Nadler Hotels
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hub by Premier Inn hub by Premier Inn
Technology 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.

hub by Premier Inn
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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.

Premier Inn
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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 (like this one at Euston Station in London) 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.

Travelodge UK
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Affordable Hotels Brands that will Save Your Europe Vacation: Room Mate Hotels Room Mate Hotels
Contrary to what the name implies, you will not be assigned a roommate if you book at Room Mate Hotels. You get eclectic, design-hotel style like this. There are now more than two dozen properties in 16 cities, and to underscore their individual personalities, each one is given a human name—Room Mate Óscar is in Madrid, Room Mate Bruno is in Rotterdam, and this hotel, Room Mate Giulia, is in Milan. No two Room Mate properties look the same—each one is designed by artists to suit its location and expected clientele.
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Affordable Hotels Brands that will Save Your Europe Vacation: Room Mate Hotels Room Mate Hotels

At Room Mate properties, breakfast is served until noon—a far cry from those fuddy-duddy B&Bs where night owls are punished with meals that wrap up by 9am. Although they're fairly inexpensive because most units are modestly sized and not packed with frills (rates are frequently in the double digits), you don't sacrifice amenities—properties may have cocktail bars, gyms, or even rooftop pools. Also cool: When you reserve, you can request a mini-router to tote around town with you; the hotel grants free "total Wi-Fi" up to 100MB all around the city, helping you navigate if you don't have roaming. Room Mate is expanding internationally, but it's particularly strong in Italy and Spain (this room is the in Room Mate Anna, in Barcelona). 

www.Room-MateHotels.com

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Affordable Hotels Brands that will Save Your Europe Vacation: Moxy Hotels Moxy Glasgow Merchant City

Moxy is actually American, but it's sweeping through Europe. It's Marriott's bid for millennial travelers. Rooms emulate the current trend toward simple yet modern (the bathroom may be a prefab unit and instead of in a closet, coat hangers hang on pegs, but the TV does all kinds of streaming tricks). The lobby is where the life is. Guests may spend most of their time in the lobby—the check-in desk may double as a bar for coffee and cocktails, food is usually served, and there are plenty of loungers, books, and games to arrest your development. There are downsides: there aren't as many freebies as there are with a brand like Citizen M or hub by Premier Inn (streaming movies, for example, are charged), and many of the Moxy properties are in somewhat inconvenient neighborhoods such as near airports or satellite neighborhoods. But they're much cooler and more relaxed than the standard Marriott product, and at least you can earn and redeem Marriott points here.

moxy-hotels.marriott.com

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