Homes, Hotels or Hostels in Macedonia? | #TrainLineTravel
When you travel, do you look into apartments, hostels or hotels first? Why? Do you use a booking engine, or book from the source? Why? These are all very relevant questions to booking accommodations while on travel. Though this post is a relatively open post (and not just about Macedonia) Though I figured I’d use this chance to use my experience while in Macedonia with you.
The first thing to answer would be:
Why Homes? Well, the obvious answer would be based on price. Other common reasons would be for location or private accommodations. I think for all those travelling, renting homes or apartments would be best suited for families with children.
Why Hostels? Again, usually selected for price, although I actually prefer to book hostels sometimes simply because it’s a great place to be when meeting new friends, finding cheap excursions and I find hostels are never ripping you off of your free WiFi or complimentary breakfasts.
Why Hotels? Well, it certainly isn’t always due to the price. I believe that most people book hotels for luxury or business stays. Hotels are usually the ‘go-to’ booking as they have been for years. Hostels have just recently made debut online as ‘stylish, affordable and fun,’ rather than the dumps they were once thought of (or the way my mother use to explain hostels when she was my age).
So what did I choose in Macedonia?
For the first time, I used Booking.com to book a villa/apartment rather than a hotel room. To be honest, I thought I was booking more of a room in a small business run villa along the water of Ohrid, Macedonia before I arrived. Though to my pleasant surprise we were staying in a family run villa where we would eat with the family and share accommodation space with the family too.
Though I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here, I can imagine that it could come as quite a surprise for people looking for more of a private accommodation.
So as the title asks… homes, hostels or hotels? I want to share with you my experiences and suggestions on how to ensure you’re really getting what you’re booking.
I spent some time in Uzice, Serbia at a hostel which was run by an extremely passionate and well educated young man. We had a conversation which got me thinking about writing this blog. I had mentioned that I loved saving money and staying in the homes of local families. He then explained why search engines like Booking.com are really starting to lower their standards in terms of ‘appropriate accommodations.’ People are now claiming their homes as accommodations and are making money off of tourists without claiming the taxes. Is this fair? Certainly not for hostel owners like the one I met who has put his heart and soul into following suite the legal way.
Though I alone cannot control the decisions that larger search engines like Booking.com or Agoda make with their potential partners, I can certainly educate you and what to look for when booking.
Homes, Apartments, Family Stays
This is probably the most difficult type of accommodation to book when searching online. Booking accommodations like these run the risk of you staying in some pretty shady places. Ensure you’re doing the appropriate research.
- Check reviews
- Do a background check – are they a legally registered business?
- Check ratings
- Really look at the photographs – are they real? photoshopped?
Websites like Airbnb have started to crack down on the ‘grey area’ between those who are claiming their earnings on taxes and those who aren’t. However, larger booking search engines are starting to relax their rules on who can join as an accommodation partner.
In my opinion, I enjoy the use of AirBnb when travelling and in desperate need of an affordable place with a little bit of privacy. I do however, prefer the hotel search engines to be separate from private homes. It’s now become a guessing game as to what is a hotel and what is a family home.
The nice thing about hostels is that most are fully registered as businesses. If their large enough with a decent number of reviews, travellers photos, etc., then they should be safe to book. Although again, it’s so hard today to see the difference between a home and a hostel. I enjoy staying in hostels because the people are friendly, it’s typically a student (or student-minded) business and they have many local partners to offer travellers cool city discounts and activities. I’ve booked hostels which weren’t ‘hostels’ at all, but run down family homes.
Can I stress enough that you need to read reviews and comments?
Well, it used to be easy to book a 5 star resort or hotel on booking engines like Hotels.com… but is it still? There are certainly enough so called ‘5 star hotels’ that have and will never live up to the standards they claim to be online. However, hotels are usually the easiest to source out and to book when you’ve got little time and a lot of money.
Anywho, Macedonia was absolutely stunning and one of those places I will need to come back to again. Check out our video “In the Blink of An Eye”