Cheap Hotels 101
Want to relive your college years, but this time with clean sheets and a stellar view? Many universities, particularly in Europe, fill empty dormitories in prime tourist locations with travelers during the summertime (not to worry, they're spiffed up after the students vacate). London's King's College, for example, rents rooms in four residences starting at about $42 a night in areas where hotels could easily charge twice that. To find out about similar programs, contact your destination's tourist board, or do a quick search of area universities. A little virtual sleuthing could save you cash and put you in a prime location -- or it could drop you on the city outskirts, so be sure you know where you're looking while hunting for that steal of a deal.
MONASTERIES AND CONVENTS
You don't have to become a nun to get a great hotel rate for a night, but acting the part might help. According to Reid Bramblett, former associate editor at Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel and author of ReidsGuides.com, there are two types of accommodations in monasteries and convents. Some of these sanctuaries actually run inexpensive guest houses; others will let you stay in empty rooms for a donation as long as you respect the community's practices and rules. In Europe, Bramblett estimates that the former charge an average of $30 to $70 a night. To find convents in the city of your choice, contact the local tourist bureau or a local church organization. In Italy, for example, the Church of Santa Susanna (www.santasusanna.org) lists convents in Rome, Assisi, San Gimignano, Florence, and Venice.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication