God I’ve stayed in some awful places. I’ve lay awake, listening to the sound of snoring, under my years-old bed sheet, wondering what the rest of my 30-something year old friends are sleeping under and in that night.
Then I wake the next day and decide yes, life is on the course I wanted, it was my sleep-deprived brain wishing me under a duvet somewhere, one where I know who slept in it last night and whether the sheets had been changed in between.
Where you stay is such an important part of travelling, I’ve decided to dedicate a whole blog post to the trials and terrors of where I’ve stayed this year, and of course, the incredible places too.
I’ve stayed in 114 different accommodations this year. That’s almost, kind of, 1 every three days.
114 different beds, in a year, madness.
My Accommodation Awards
My longest stay
The longest I’ve stayed in one place is my mum and dad’s house, this last run, over Christmas at 13 days. Other than that it’d be the flat in Barcelona we rented for 10 days in June, or the 7-night cruise I did (see above), which was obviously technically the same room, but not the same place.
Even my 27 days in an apartment in Stockwell, London, was intercepted with trips home, trips to Paris and festivals.
And there was that 10-day stay at Drifter’s in Austin – more on that later.
The unusual sleeps
– My accommodation at Festival No 6, in the gale force winds
This year I’ve spent seven nights in a tent, three nights on planes (NYC to London // Costa Rica to London // Minneapolis to London) and 7 nights on sofas.
– Jen and I could barely fit in the room on the boat at the same time
I’ve spent a week on what equated to a shelf on a boat in Croatia, one night on a train from Swedish Lapland to Stockholm and a night in an old sugar plantation in southern Louisiana, where I got totally spooked by what must’ve gone on in there in the past. I’d swear a ghost moved my curtains.
Scariest places I’ve stayed
Red Roof Inn, Montgomery
– from their website, see how exposed the doors are?
The motels I stayed at in America, particularly in Montgomery, had me convinced there was going to be some sort of shoot out. I know it doesn’t look that scary above, but in these kind of places you can get to the rooms without any sort of keycard, and from what I’ve seen on the films, you could definitely kick the door down, if you desired.
My imagination is way too vivid and overactive to stay in places like this. Barely slept.
Pilgrim House, Montgomery
– photo from HostelWorld, tempted?
Pilgrim House in Memphis was so weird. I didn’t realise at the time it was some sort of religious halfway house mixed with a traveller’s hostel, where you had to carry out chores to stay.I should’ve known from the name.
The woman in the next bed kept asking if she could have my things – “God would want me to give them to her”. Thankfully the two nights passed pretty quick and I got out of there ASAP.
Worst hostel of 2016
Drifters Hostel, Austin
– Not my photo of Drifters, imagine it dirtier, stinking,
and with questionable sheets
This was a definite toss up between Hipstel, in Hua Hin, Thailand, and Drifters, Austin, but I think the rudeness of the staff just get Drifters to the top of the leaderboard, over that bug-infested bed in some kind of garage at Hipstel.
Hipstel Hostel, Hua Hin
– Not my photo of Hipstel, you could hear and smell everything going on, and there was a weird padlock on the door that could be locked from the outside
I’ve written more about my Drifters experience here, but basically I was there for 10 nights for SXSW. During SXSW it was alright, I was exhausted every night, I slept.
After that there were parties every night, they decided to use the toilet in my dorm room WHERE I WAS ASLEEP, as a public toilet for everyone at the party, the guy on the front desk OUTSIDE MY ROOM played heavy metal all night and one of the staff members was pretty much DRY HUMPING a different guest every time I went in the lounge.
It was a horrible atmosphere, a dirty hostel, and they way overcharged me because it was SXSW week. Hated it.
Best hostel of 2016
Hostels aren’t always on that kind of level of grim, in fact, I’ve stayed at some really good ones around the world. Special mentions have to go out to HK Austin in Austin, Madame Isabelle’s House in New Orleans and Holiday Jones in Chicago.
– Photos from HostelWorld.com
Madame Isabelle’s House in New Orleans
Holiday Jones in Chicago
My future in hostels
I’m done with hostels. My last stay, at the Generator near Euston was the final straw. Snoring, rustling of bags, doors going at all hours, people stinking out the room, staff who didn’t care, blocked toilets – enough. I can’t do it any more.
Recently a friend of mine went travelling and lasted two nights in a hostel, before he was too grossed out and booked into a hotel. I think that was my reality check. I need my space. I’ve done my time.
And then comes the hotels…
– Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana
My accommodation isn’t all doom and gloom and complaints for 2016 though – jeez, I have stayed in some incredible places this year.
Obviously I love going on press trips, particularly when we stay in amazing accommodation. I love seeing what I could one day afford if I work hard enough. Here are my most highly commended hotels of the year, and the ultimate gold meal winner too.
Ibis Hotel Florida Keys
Hahnenkammen Lodge, Kitzbuhel
Lomas del Volcan, Costa Rica
L’Auberge Casino Lake Charles
*Henderson Park Inn, Destin*
I loved it here, in Florida. Full on dedicated blog post coming soon.
Family run places
– St Charles Guest House in New Orleans
I do like the family run places, y’know, the guest houses where everything is kept in keeping with the times. Places like the St Charles Guest House in New Orleans, with all its chintz and old school deep south print.
– not my pic again, but we stayed in that room at Crochet House Bed and Breakfast, Grand Isle
Cailin and I stayed at Crochet House Bed and Breakfast on Grand Isle, where the guy packed us up a lunch to take with us once we’d left. How cute is that?
In Montenegro Jen and I made best friends with the owner, despite the fact she had no English and we had no Montenegrin – alcohol played a strong part in that relationship.
The family run ones are often where you have to be a little more understanding of the surroundings, but usually get to meet a real character in the process are great. Someone possibly driven a little eccentric by all the customers they’ve had to put up with over the years.
Sleeping on planes
Our flight on the way back from Costa Rica was business class. Honestly, I hope you get to experience this. I was flat out asleep, with a duvet and everything.
I’m actually pretty good at sleeping on planes, business class or not. A little too good in fact. I’ve been known to fall asleep on the plane as soon as I get on and only awake when we’re in the sky. It’s possible the skill I’m most proud of in life.
Sleeping in 2017
Isn’t sleeping well, great?
– My room at the Tennessee Fitness Camp
The Tennessee Fitness Camp gave me some of the best sleeps ever. Obviously because I was exhausted from minimal calories and maximum exercise, but also because when you feel safe, you sleep better, right?
And oh my gawd I had some good sleeps at my number one hotel, the Henderson Park Inn, too. The sound of the waves, over the silence of the hotel, combined with the super comfy bed meant I was super cosy.
One of the reasons I want to find somewhere more permanent to live next year is because I’m sick of carrying my stuff around. I want things, I want a place for my clothes, I don’t want to live out of a suitcase, but most importantly I want the comfiest bed, duvet and pillows you could imagine. Time to invest.
Accommodation and travelling
– The Bonham Hotel, Edinburgh
From living in a screen cupboard in Thailand to lording it up at The Bonham Hotel in Edinburgh, my accommodation has been as much a part of the travel experience as what I did in the destination. It’s so important to book the right hotel / hostel / Airbnb for the experience you want to have.
It takes a lot of my time to plan where I’m going to stay, and then to find it when I’m in the vicinity, so here’s a list of everywhere I’ve stayed in 2016. I don’t have the highest standards, so if I’ve crossed it out I’d strongly recommend you don’t even go near it.
Thanks for reading this far. I actually really enjoyed putting this together!
Everywhere I stayed in 2016
- Ibis, Edinburgh (2)
- Portree Hotel, Isle of Skye (2)
- Motel One, Edinburgh (1)
- Edinburgh Townhouse, Edinburgh (1)
- The Bonham, Edinburgh (2)
- Novotel, Grenoble (1)
- Le Crin, Tignes (5)
- Turin Pacific Hotel Airport, Turin (1)
- Hotel de Champoluc, Champoluc (4)
- My parent’s house (30)
- EasyJet Hotel, Heathrow (1)
- Ibis Bay Resort, Florida Keys (3)
- Ocean Point Suites, Florida Keys (2)
- My friend Fiona’s (2)
- Hahnenkamm Lodge, Kitzbuhel (1)
- Chalet accommodation, Going (2)
- Das Posthotel, Zillertal (2)
- Munich Airport Hotel (1)
- Centra Government Hotel, Bangkok (1)
2230 Hostel, Chang Mai (3)
- Nimman Resort, Chang Mai (3)
- Eden Walking Street, Chang Mai (3)
Hipstel, Hua Hin (3) Jenny House, Hua Hin (2)
- T-Boutique Hostel, Hua Lamphong (2)
- Lub d Bangkok, Siam Square, Bangkok (4)
- HI, Austin (6)
Drifters, Austin (10)
- HK, Austin (3)
- Sorella, Houston (2)
- Westin Woods, Houston (1)
- Casino Hotel, Lake Charles (2)
- St Charles Guest House, New Orleans (4)
- Auberge Nouvelle Orleans, New Orleans (4)
India House Hotel, New Orleans (2)
- Le Meridien, New Orleans (2)
- DoubleTree, Lafayette (2)
- Crochet Inn, Grand Isle (1)
- Oak Alley Plantation, Oak Alley (1)
Belle of Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge (1)
- Madame Isabelle’s House, New Orleans (2)
- Ocean Terrace Inn, St Kitts (4)
- Timothy Beach Resort, St Kitts (3)
Site 61 Hostel, New Orleans (5) Red Roof Inn Montgomery Midtown, Montgomery (2)
- The Crash Pad, Chattanooga (3)
- Airport Super 8, Nashville (1)
- Tennessee Fitness Camp, Waynesboro (7)
- Nashville Downtown Hostel, Nashville (4)
Pilgrim House, Memphis (3)
- Holiday Jones, Chicago (2)
- HI, Chicago (2)
- Microtel, Minneapolis (6)
- Canal Park Lodge, Duluth (1)
- East Bay Suites, Grand Marais (1)
- White Iron Beach Resort, Ely (1)
- Plane (3) – NYC to London // Costa Rica to London // Minneapolis to London
- Brixton AirBnB (8)
- My brother Matt’s, Barcelona (5)
- Montjuic Apartment, Barcelona (10)
- Hotel Solomou, Athens (2)
- Tour hotel, Athens (2)
- Mykonos Hotel (2)
- Santorini Hotel (2)
- Ios Hotel (2)
- Aristoteles Hotel, Athens (2)
- Generator, Stockholm (6)
- Hemavans Högfjällshotell (1)
- Saxnas Hotel (2)
- Saxnas to Stockholm Train (1)
- Best Western, Stockholm (1)
- Stockwell Airbnb (27)
- Tent, Wilderness Festival (3)
- Hotel Brittany, Paris (1)
- Exelmans, Paris (4)
- YHA St Pancras, London (1)
- Tent, Festival No 6, Wales (4)
- King William, Luton Airport (1)
- Top of the Pops Apartment, Split (1)
- Medsailors ship (6)
- Apartment, Dubrovnik (1)
- Kotor Apartment, Montenegro (1)
- Apartment Sjekloca, Montenegro (1)
- Sky Apartments, Dubrovnik (2)
- Belsize Park Hostel, London (2)
- Friend Kayte’s, Sheffield (1)
- Friend Kellie’s, Manchester (1)
- Friend Mon’s, Chester (1)
- Hoburne Bashley Holiday Park (3)
- Friend Chloe’s (9)
- Adriatic Hotel, Rovinj (4)
- Grano de Oro, San Jose (1)
- Lomas del Volcan, Costa Rica (2)
- Pachira Lodge, Costa Rica (2)
- Namuwoki, Costa Rica (2)
- Ragdale Hall (1)
- Apartment in Barcelona (5)
- East India Airbnb, London (11)
- Qbic Hotel, London (1)
- Miyako Hotel, Little Tokyo, LA (2)
- Days Inn San Diego Hotel Circle (2)
- Days Hotel Scottsdale (1)
- Grand Canyon Lodges Maswik South (2)
- Harrahs Las Vegas (2)
- Pines Resort, Bass Lake (2)
- Hotel Whitcomb, San Francisco (1)
- Haddon Hall, Miami (1)
- Norwegian Getaway Cruise (7)
- Miami Springs Inn, Miami (1)
- Henderson Park Inn, Destin (3)
- Azure Condos, Okasoola Island (2)
- Majestic Condo, Panama City Beach (2)
- NYC Airbnb, Williamsburg (5)
Generator Hostel, London (3)