Monday, March 31, 2008

Avoiding Euro Woes

With the euro at near record levels, travel in Europe this summer is likely to be a pricey proposition. One way to avoid the issue is to travel to countries in Europe that have not yet adopted the euro as their currency. This group includes some relatively low-cost countries like Romania, Croatia and Serbia as well as higher cost countries like the UK, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

A quick survey on disclosed no great difference in the cost of the lowest-priced hotel rooms in various European cities, but there can be significant differences in the amenities available for the price. For example, the Vanadis Hotel in downtown Helsinki, Finland is charging $88 for a room with no bath and no window, while the Gromada Hotel near the airport in Warsaw charges $67 for a room with bath and breakfast. (Both prices were for the same dates in April.) Both Poland and Finland are in the euro zone. I stayed at the Gromada back in the 90s and found it ok, though I had to request a move to a different room because rain was dripping into my room. The hotel is located in a forest near the airport.

In general, you are likely to get a little more for the money in countries of the former Soviet bloc, except for Russia itself.

For true budget travel in Europe, consider getting to a nunnery or a monastery or a youth hostel. My old favorite the Foyer Hottingen in downtown Zurich is run by nuns and they now charge $40 a night for a bed in a shared room, with breakfast included. This option is for women only, but there are more expensive rooms available for couples.


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