Go for chabakia in the foodmarket on the Djemaa el fna. It's the only cake I've had the pleasure of encountering that you have to dunk into your bean soup. Such dunking is compulsory, and livens up an otherwise boringly healthy dish no end. We were reliably informed that chabakia is made of flour, rolled in lots of honey and sugar, and then fried, which sounds much more believable than it being starfish, as we first thought (not such a startling assumption as we were surrounded by diners merrily tucking into sheeps' heads and giant snails). It's the perfect, sticky cake to chew on while you give away your tourist credentials by drinking mint tea sans sucre and arguing with your boyfriend about whether or not to buy a Moroccan toy drum.
Djemaa el fna at the bean soup stall
It's still an old-fashioned and very cheap train ride along the north of the Peloponnese - much more interesting than any coach equivalent.The engines are brightly painted, too.
The Patras station is right by the quayside. The Corinth end is right next to the modern line that runs to Athens.
A funky 'hostel' (more like a boutique hotel) bang smack in the middle of Fes Old Town. Rooms are spacious and elegantly-furnished, and the shower room is so fabulous you don't mind sharing it.
There's a roof terrace full of sofas (and even an outdoor shower) and also a very useful kitchen and washing machine. Great breakfast, Wi-Fi, cheap rates.
A peaceful yellow haven just a few steps away from the fabulous Djemaa El Fna. The four rooms (three doubles and a triple) are prettily-furnished in Moroccan-style, breakfast is delicious and the staff are helpful.
There's also a roof terrace and a plant-filled internal patio. Prices are good too, coming in at around £30 for the room.
25 derb ben amran , Marrakech 40000, Morocco
You can book it through hostelworld.com
A small and friendly hotel in an historic palazzo complete with frescoed vaulted ceilings. Room 15 is an excellent example, large room with bathroom, fridge, T.V. and views of Via Balbi. Wake up to the smell of farinata/focaccia cooking next door. Close to historic sights and Station Principe. It cost us 80 Euros per night in high season including a good breakfast.
Balbi Family Hotel,
Via Balbi 23/3
Take a chance!
- with accommodation (unless it's peak peak season or there's a festival on). We've always found it much cheaper to go for one of the places offered to ferry arrivals than booking in advance.
- there's almost always room-owners touting as you disembark, and they are competing against each other. If you don't like the room, you can always move on the next day. This way we usually pay €25-35 (for the two of us) and even as low as €20 on one sleepy island. That time the room was new with en-suite, balcony, fridge, kettle. Never had a bad room yet, some mediocre, but let's face it, you're there to explore, eat out, drink... The room is to sleep and shower. Breakfast on your balcony saves money too - usually rooms also have kettle/small stove.
Most islands (except Argo-Saronic which fill with Greeks from Athens); all the Cyclades (except Folegandros where we had to take a bus to the Hora and walk round asking at places advertising rooms). But worth it for the most lovely Hora, food and views.
An affordable alternative to an agriturismo, this B&B is part rural retreat and hippie haven - everything here is 'organic', from the home-made and home-grown breakfast to the natural paint on the walls.
Ten minutes on foot to the sea and surrounded by the pine-forests of San Rossore National Park, the house is surrounded by natural beauty, and the owners treat guests like a member of the family.
It's the homely touches that really make this B&B stand out, from the bikes laid out for guests to use, to eating our (free) breakfast together in the garden - the feast of muesli and yoghurt, sticky cakes and fresh bread and honey was washed down with juice and herbal tea.
If you are visiting Viareggio at Carnival time, the owner will drive you into town to join in with the festivities, and medieval city Lucca, artists's haven Pietra Santa and Puccini's house at Torre del Lago are a short train ride away.
Rooms are around 30 euros a night - a bargain for Tuscany!
Via Moses Levy, Viareggio, Toscana, Italy 55049
If you're backpacking in Bangkok why pay for a dorm when you can get a private room for the same price?
The Roof View is a lovely guesthouse with dirt cheap private rooms, and free breakfast, linen and towels.
The rooms are all pretty stylish,there are comfy beds with fresh white decor and a private balcony.
It's a ten minute walk to the Khaosan Road and a short bus drive to the Grand Palace.
90/1 Samsean Rd Soi 6,, Banpanthom, Pranakorn, Bangkok, Thailand 10200
Just got back from a tour of Thailand and this was the best hostel we stayed in. It calls itself a 'boutique hostel' but it's far cheaper than what Europe charges for a boutique bed - around €9 a night!
There are seven rooms so it's got a real homely atmosphere, and the 100-year-old building is beautiful. Our room was tastefully furnished and there was a peaceful zen-like roof garden.
The staff should get a special mention - the smiliest and friendliest girls I've ever met! It's also a short walk from the center of town. All in all, ideal for backpackers in Bangkok!
204-206 Maha Chai Road, Samranrach Phra-Nakorn, Bangkok, Thailand 10200
After hours of searching for affordable accommodation in Athens we found this delight.
Inside it is clean and friendly, has free Wi-Fi and a lovely garden courtyard where they do a good cheap breakfast in the morning and a good cheap beer in the evening.
When you step outside you're right in the heart of the Plaka and surrounded by tavernas and cafes. A five-minute walk along the cobbled streets takes you to the Acropolis, the new museum and Syntagma Square. A four-person room with facilities is €100 per night.
16 Kydathineon, Plaka
Gorizia is rarely talked about, even by Italians, yet it was at the centre of fierce fighting during both world wars and was split in two by the 1947 Treaty of Paris, leaving part in Italy part in former Yugoslavia (now Slovenia).
Bruno e Valentina self-catering apartments are all modern, clean and simply furnished. Run by the couple with the same name and their assertive four-year-old son, they are situated at the centre of this historic town.
The ground floor rooms have a private back garden and the first floor have beautifully decorated balconies.
The apartments are an extension of the couple's own home and thus by day two, what with the daily change of sheets and towels and the Italian chit-chat, you are practically part of the family.
Travel a couple of days before the 31st of May when the vineyards are open to the public. Bruno will, at your request, secure a certified wine glass for a mere €6 which you can use to drink as much wine as you can.
Price: From €200 a week - shorter stays negotiable. They can pick you up from Gorizia/Treviso airports for a small fee.
Bruno e Valentina
Via dei Leoni 78 Gorizia
Tel: 00 390 481 390 682
A relatively inexpensive small apartment in Pisa. Live like a local: shop in the supermarket around the corner or at the market in town; use the train to visit other nearby towns. No worry about airport transport - the owner will collect you from the airport and return you at the end of your stay.
Two ideas to budget in NYC on holiday:
1. You can get tickets to see TV recordings for free i.e. for Ricki Lake. You need often to apply early though.
2. On the same day, head down to Time Square and the TKTS booth and get theatre tickets half price.
TKTS Booth, 46th st & Broadways
Spent a romantic weekend in Edinburgh in this hostel. Would be ideal for a couple trying to do the Edinburgh festival on a budget - private rooms are spacious and there were no stag or hen parties, or drunk backpackers.
Housed in a charming 19th century building, the comfortable private rooms mean this is a great alternative to a souless hotel - the rooms have antique furnishings and bags of character, as well as amazing views of the castle. Loved all the art on the walls as well.
The location is unbeatable (a minute from the Castle, Royal Mile, Grassmarket), and there's a huge lounge and movie screening room.
This is a top hostel to stay in during the Edinburgh Fringe.
Right on the Royal Mile, this hostel goes all out for the Fringe, with a Festival Pub crawl and competitions to win show tickets.
The arty decor chimes with the Fringe's 'alternative' vibe, and the lively, social atmosphere make it the perfect place to crash post-party.
There's also a bargain breakfast for under £2, the rooms are comfortable and smarter than your average backpacker's hostel, and the staff will give you a guided tour of the Royal Mile.
For family friendly accommodation at the Fringe, avoid overpriced hotels - they'll probably be booked up anyway months in advance. Instead try a family friendly hostel.
Aimed at a higher clientele than cash-strapped backpackers, the Smart City Hostel is a 'boutique' hostel– all rooms are private with ensuite bathrooms, and there are special family rooms with a TV.
The free linen and towels, washing machines and self-catering facilities are a great way to keep costs down (you can make large family meals or prepare a packed lunch for the daytime).
Very comfortable rooms, and a central location in the heart of the old town, so it was easy to cart the whole family to the main venues!
This multi-cultural festival is a great budget alternative to the pricier and overcrowded Fringe and main festival.
Set up by a group of ethnic minorities in Edinburgh, Mela means ‘gathering’ in Sanskrit and is a celebration of cultural diversity in Scotland.
The festival has a laid-back vibe, with food stalls and a craft market alongside the main line-up of theatre, music, film, and visual art from around the world, from Zimbabwean Theatre to Bollywood Dance.
It's only £2 for an all day pass, but some single events are free.
7-9th August, Pilrig Park
A basic Southern Indian restaurant specialising in parathas (stuffed pancakes) located in the heart of Paris's little visited Indian quarter. It is cheaper and more relaxed than the now all too touristy falafal in the Marrais.
The Masala Paratha at just €4.50 includes a large gently spiced Paratha with a fiery dahl along with a couple of dips. There are selections of authentic Southern Indian snacks which you can buy to take away. Friendly service and the sure fire sign of quality - largely frequented by the local Indian population.
Quick, filling and perfectly placed for a pre or post Eurostar meal it is the best value meal I know of in Paris.
189 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin
75010 Paris, France
+33(0)1 40 34 30 70
Google map: bit.ly/lTygle
After a walking through the very chic neighbourhood of St Germain where cash is king, switch to the Quartier Latin for a meal solely based on tartes. It is cheap, very cheap, it is cheerful and above all, the chocolate and raspberry tarte is so good it may make you tear up.
53 Rue Mouffetard, 75005 Paris, France
+33(0)1 43 37 21 89
Google map: bit.ly/gN0ak3
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