Whenever I went on family trips as a child, we stayed in chain hotels. My relatives chose big-name accommodations because the standard was reliable. Unfortunately, the "safe choice" tends to be the boring one. I remember these rooms as a single beige blur.
Nowadays, I rest my head in more colorful environments. Watch my new "Travel SOS" video to explore two of these alternatives.
1) Boutique hotels
"Lifestyle hotels" have an indie rocker spirit. There are fewer rooms, and the staff puts extra effort into personalizing the stay.
For example, Vancouver's Georgian Court has a modern lobby, a fleet of elliptical machines, and free chocolates. The women-only "Orchid Floor" pampers female guests, at no extra cost.
On Airbnb, travelers can search for a private room or apartment, and rent it securely.
I was attracted to the bright decor and excellent ratings of this Rome apartment. After speaking by phone, the owner met me to hand over the keys.
For the price of a regular hotel, I stayed in an apartment full of personality, and experienced Rome like a local.
In the past, vacationers booked chain hotels because they knew what they were getting into. But now, it's easy to find user reviews online and determine if the room is right. The next time you're traveling, give these quirkier accommodations a try.
What's the most memorable hotel or rental you've ever stayed in?
Unlike standard hotels, this Airbnb rental had a large, modern kitchen -- and a welcome on the fridge.
The Rome apartment cost about as much as a chain hotel per night, but was far more spacious.
Airbnb's listings include photos, maps, and user reviews. The company handles the transactions and aids with any disputes.
Staying in a private apartment allowed me to meet a fascinating musician (the owner, Francesco IV), and live like a local in Rome.
The apartment owner shared his favorite neighborhood spots.
Boutique hotels like the Georgian Court (Vancouver, BC) put extra effort into the decor, and services like a full gym and free wireless internet.
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