Europe on a budget: The best affordable hotel chains

If you’re a frequent traveler in the U.S., you probably have a favorite affordable hotel chain. It’s the one you book when you don’t want to spend a fortune for a single night but still want a decent experience. (We’re fans of Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express, for example.)

Finding similar options in Europe can be a little daunting, since some of the brands we know and trust don’t exist there. Here are a few to consider for your next trip:

Best Western. I associate Best Westerns with road trips through the American West, but the chain has some terrific properties, often in historic buildings, throughout Europe. My favorite so far: Best Western Premier Hotel de la Poste & Spa, housed in a former post office in Troyes, France. 

My CitizenM room felt like a spaceship pod, in a good way.

CitizenM. This “affordable luxury” chain offers small, well-designed rooms in prime locations. You won’t find bellboys or concierge desks. Instead, there’s a self-serve check-in desk that’s part of a larger “living room” that includes a bar, breakfast buffet and hang-out spaces. I stayed at CitizenM’s Copenhagen hotel, nicely situated on a public transit route near the train station and just steps from the old part of town, including Tivoli Gardens amusement park.

Moxy. This Marriott brand started in the U.S. and spread to Europe, where it emulates some aspects of the CitizenM experience, including compact rooms combined with large common spaces. Moxy locations tend not to be as centrally located as CitizenM’s, but if you need to stay near an airport or don’t mind a little extra travel time from an outlying neighborhood, the savings can be worthwhile.

Ibis Hotels. This is a budget brand from France’s Accor Hotels that you can find throughout Europe. If you need extra room for a family, look for Ibis Styles hotels, which offer slightly larger rooms (and included breakfast). I saw some Ibis hotels in great, central locations and others that were miles away from anywhere most tourists would want to be, so check a map before you book.

All these brands have frequent traveler programs. Best Western and Moxy allow you to book with points you accumulate in the U.S.

Do you have a favorite good-value hotel chain in Europe? Please share your experience in the comments.