Where to Stay in Europe, Part 1
After airfare, the priciest part of your vacation will be accommodations. "There are big hotel chains in Europe, but one of the great things about alternative lodgings -- rentals, B&Bs, self-catering cottages-is that these give you a taste of what local life is like," says Pauline Frommer, creator of the Pauline Frommer Budget Guidebooks. However you choose to experience Europe, there's an array of affordable places to stay.
BUDGET HOTELS You can find simple, clean, no-frills family hotels in most European cities for $100 to $180 for a double room per night. Try eurapart.com and travellerspoint.com.
B&BS A cozy choice, B&Bs often have "family rooms," specially priced double rooms that include bunk or single beds for the kids. Ask when booking. Some B&Bs charge a per-person rate, but stays do include breakfast. In England, you can expect to pay about $50 to $60 per person. For a variety of family-welcoming options, check out ciaobambino.com, which has reviews written by parents for parents for small properties all over Europe.
A HOME OF YOUR OWN If you're staying for a week or more, consider renting an apartment or a house, says Frommer. "The cost will usually be a good 20 to 45 percent less than the equivalent hotel stay." (I found a three-bedroom cottage in England's Lake District for $900 for seven nights in June at lakescottages.info, just one of many search sites.) You'll get a kitchen, a living and dining room, and sometimes a grassy area where the kids can play. Wimco.com features local concierges who can assist you with everything from babysitting to dinner reservations. Untours.com includes pre-trip planning assistance and ground transportation packaged with its rentals. Homeaway.com is another popular site for home rentals.
FARM STAYS For about $100 a night, your family can bunk at a working farm or horse ranch in a bucolic area. These basic, rural accommodations are known as agriturismos in Italy, schlaf im stroh (sleep and straw) in Switzerland, and gites in France.