From Luxury to Misery, 8 Weeks of Accommodation

We traveled over 6000km in Spain & France and stayed in all types of accommodation.  We covered it all from Luxury to Misery, ya know the “Get me out of here!” kind.  Now it’s time to share it all with you, every place we stayed during our 8 week European road trip. Yes, we will include what we thought and the costs too.  Keep on reading!

From Luxury to Misery 8 Weeks of Accommodation - European Road Trip. Click to read more on WagonersAbroad.com

When planning this trip, I decided to take a little stress off of myself and prebook the first 6 weeks.  This isn’t usually our style, as it locks us into locations for a set duration.  That said, we have learned that internet isn’t something we should always expect.  Even though a places lists that it has wifi, sometimes it feels as if we are back in the dial-up ages.

Anyway, we booked it in advance and only seemed to have a couple of hiccups along the way.  So as far as that was concerned it worked out well for us and I wasn’t up all night trying to find a place for us the next day.  The final week or so of our trip was booked last-minute and there were slim pickings to choose from in August.  Even though that was the case, I still think it was the right approach to take.  

I wasn’t sure if the family was going to be willing to add an additional week or not, which turned out to be the “not”.  Okay, this is where I share with you every single place we stayed.  This time, we tried to take a video of most locations, so you could see more than just a quick photo.  We shared them on Facebook along the way, but we also have them embedded below.

When searching for accommodation, these were our target priorities:

Cost: €60/night budget
Type: 2-3 bedrooms or comfy sleeping for 4 people (we don’t like to share beds), parking, free WiFi and AC.  As an extra bonus we wanted a pool.  Many times we selected our accommodation based on price or location, but often made compromises.

Map guide:

Green is where we stayed over night.
Yellow was a day trip.
Orange was a stop by, on driving day.

Road trip = Life on the Move for Us

We were gone a total of 59 nights and stayed in 17 different accommodations:

  • House / Villa in 2 locations
  • Apartments in 9 locations
  • Hotels in 5 locations
  • Campground Bungalow just once
  • Anya lost 4 teeth and Lars grew at least an inch or two

We packed and unpacked a grand total of 34 times!  (including our initial pack and final unpack at home).

Here is where we stayed during our 8 week European road trip (Spain & France)

  1. Mallorca, Spain – Port de Pollensa private Villa 

    June 25 – July 2, 2016 (7 nights)
    Cost:  €0 – Value for this date range €1050
    Type:  Private Luxury Villa with 3 bedrooms (2x twin rooms, 1 Queen), 2 bathrooms. Parking, pool, fruit trees, wifi, and AC in the bedrooms.
    Mallorca Villa - Travelopo Porto Pollenca (Puerto Pollensa)Thoughts:  This was the first week of our road trip.  We actually drove 5 1/2 hours to Valencia and parked our car at the airport.  Then it was a quick flight over to Mallorca for the week.  We worked with the booking agency Travelopo in exchange for our villa.  We provided a full write-up and review about our stay here!  This was really a spectacular place to stay and plenty of activities to do nearby.  Here is our recommended list of Things to do in Mallorca.

  2. Valencia, SpainValencia Flats Centro Ciudad 

    July 2 – 5, 2016 (3 nights)
    Cost:  €0 – Value for this date range €280
    Type:  A 1 bedroom apartment with king bed, pull-out sofa and we requested a rollaway bed as well.  Paid parking, wifi, and AC.  Excellent walking location in Valencia.
    Valencia Flats Centro Ciudad apartment collageThoughts:  This apartment was very modern and clean.  The bedroom didn’t have a door, so it was more like a very large studio with kitchen.  They do however offer other apartments with actual bedrooms.  We worked with Valencia Flats in exchange for our apartment.  A full write-up was done and you can read our review here!  Of course we love Valencia and would even consider moving there for a city life experience.  There are plenty of activities to do nearby.  Here is our recommended list of Things to do in Valencia.

  3. Madrid, Spain – Airbnb Rental 

    July 5 – 7, 2016 (2 nights)
    Cost:  €110
    Type:  A 3 bedroom apartment with 3 queen beds and pull-out sofa.  Street parking, wifi, and AC. Located a few block from the metro and bus stops.
    Madrid Apartment neighborhoodThoughts:  This apartment was nothing like the photos advertised.  It was dirty, sparcely furnished and in a questionable neighborhood.  Luckily it was just for 2 nights, but we did almost move.  The only thing keeping us there was our busy schedule, great AC and no time to search for a new location.  The owner was nice and it worked for just 2 nights.  If it were any longer misery would have set in and we would have moved.

    There was a powdery grit on all of the floors, the tub was filthy and the bedrooms were very dusty.  With a good deep clean it may have left a better impression on the inside, but the neighborhood was also a bit dirty.  It was our second time using Airbnb and our second disappointment.  This had us worried, as we had a few more reserved for this trip. We would not recommend this particular rental.

  4. Salamanca, Spain – Camping Regio

    July 7 – 9, 2016 (2 nights)
    Cost:  €180
    Type:  A Bungalow with 1 bedroom (full bed), loft (3 twins), and a pull-out sofa.  Free parking, wifi, and AC.  Just 4km drive to Salamanca city center.
    Salamanca Camping Regio BungalowThoughts:  This bungalow was about as compact as they could come.  The kitchen was just a sink and mini fridge, with a two-burner stove.  The stairs up to the loft were practically straight up.  The AC worked well in the dining room, but didn’t really make its way up to the loft or in the bedroom.

    The main reason we stayed here was to enjoy the camping experience with all of the activities, like we did on our last road trip in Rome.  They advertise many activities here, but they don’t provide any supplies.  So there are tennis courts, mini golf, basketball, etc., but no supplies.  You need to bring your own.  So that only left us with the swimming pool.  It was hot, so we did enjoy the pool.

    It wasn’t worth the extra price to have all of the amenities, when they weren’t available to use.  The place was a bit old and run down, but it was just 2 nights.  Next time we would prefer to stay at a hotel in the city center.  If you have camping supplies or an RV, this place may work out better for you.  We really enjoyed Salamanca as there is plenty to see and do.  Here is our recommended list of Things to do in Salamanca.

  5. Carnota, Spain (Galicia) – Apartment
    booked via HomeAway (property p6726254)

    July 9 – 16, 2016 (7 nights)
    Cost:  €380
    Type:  A 3 bedroom apartment with 2 queen room and 1 twin room. 2 terraces, free parking, wifi, and large kitchen.  Rural location near the coast of Galicia.  The photo below is the view from the back terrace.
    Galicia view from back terraceThoughts:  This apartment was very modern and clean.  The layout was a bit odd, but it had plenty of space for us all.  At this point we just needed something where we could all stretch out and have our own space.  The kids each had their own room and took full advantage of that.  The owner was incredibly nice and the place was spotless.  This was just what we needed for a relaxing week.  It is about 1 hour from Santiago de Compostela and we found there to be plenty to do nearby.  Here is our inspiration for you to Visit Galicia Spain.

  6. Playa de Catedrales, Spain – PR Cafe Bar Moderno (other options in area)

    July 16, 2016 (1 night)
    Cost:  €80
    Type:  A Hotel – we booked 2 rooms with 2 twin beds and private bathroom.  Street parking, no wifi, no ac.  It is just a 10 minute drive from Playa de Catedrales.
    Playa de las Catedrales morning Galicia SpainThoughts:  Now that the kids are as tall as any adult, sharing small spaces just doesn’t work.  We had originally booked 2 rooms at a nicer hotel, but 4 days before arrival, they cancelled the reservation due to flooding.  This left us with a scramble for the 1 night, in an area with few hotels.

    The only reason we were in this area was to catch the sunset at low tide and then the sunrise at low tide at Playa de Catedrales.  Location was key for our accommodation choice.  This is the only place with availability for the 4 of us. So we booked it, even without wifi!  It was like a hostel above a bar, so not really ideal.  It was basic and worked for 1 night.  Instead we would recommend Hotel Playa de las Catedrales.

  7. Arriondas, Spain (Asturias) – La Estrada Hotel 

    July 17 – 20, 2016 (3 nights)
    Cost:  €175
    Type:  A Hotel with family room, 2 twin beds and 1 full bed.  Street parking and wifi. Excellent location for walking around town and taking advantage of all of the activities and Sidra houses.
    Arriondas Asturias Spain La Estrada Hotel family roomThoughts:  This hotel was basic and clean.  It was chosen based on location and in this area it was difficult to find something with AC.  My guess is it normally isn’t extremely hot here in the hills.  That is except for the few days we were there.  We would recommend this place, if you are certain the temperatures are reasonable.  It was in the upper 90’s and very little ventilation in the room.

    After 2 nights, we looked for a hotel with AC for the 3rd night and couldn’t find one in town.  So we ended up departing early and moving on to our next destination.  We prepaid for the hotel and they were not willing to refund us for one night.  So to keep peace in the family, we just moved to a place with AC near Santander.  This is a great area for adventure sports, river activities, hiking and more.  Check out our post on visiting Asturias Spain.

  8. Santander, SpainHotel San Juan  

    July 19, 2016 (1 night – duplicate night with reservation above)
    Cost:  €110
    Type:  A Hotel with 2 rooms, each with 2 twin beds, free parking and AC.
    Thoughts:  This was a last-minute booking to provide us with some relief from the heat wave we experienced in Arriondas.  The AC was great, until about 11pm, when it seems the hotel shuts off the AC for the night.

    It wasn’t the greatest nights sleep, as the room warmed up quickly.  It was still better than what we had the night prior, and at least we had 2 rooms.  We were just staying for 1 night, as we already had a booking for the area for the next 3 nights.  The hotel was in an okay area near the airport and a shopping mall.

  9. Santander, SpainApartment in Castillo via Rentalia 

    July 20 – 23, 2016 (3 nights)
    Cost:  €165
    Type:  A 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment. 1 room with 2 full beds and 1 room with 2 twin beds.  Free parking, wifi, and pool.  A rural location, near surfing areas.
    Cantabria Spain - Cottage outside of SantanderThoughts:  This apartment was a little quirky, but we really liked it.  The owners were extremely nice and there was plenty of space for us all.  We really enjoyed a full kitchen and were just a few hundred meters from the local grocery store.  We liked having a little yard with table outside as well.  Check out what we did in Santander and also our surf lessons experience.

  10. Navarrete, Spain –  Apartment from Airbnb (see discount below)

    July 23 – 30, 2016 (7 nights)
    Cost:  €340
    Type:  A 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment with queen and full bed.  Street parking, wifi, and wine cellar tour.  Excellent location for walking around the village.
    Apartment in Navarrete Spain - La Rioja Northern SpainThoughts:  The apartment was in a historic building full of character.  Lars was volunteering this week, so we just needed something for 3 people.  The kitchen was a bit odd, but seemed to work for us.  Ideally we would have had 3 twin beds or 3 beds, but the apartment was as advertised and we liked it.  Located in the center of the village, it was great to walk around to the shops and restaurants.  It was also easy to access many wineries, plus it was just 10 minutes to the city of Logroño.

  11. Bordeaux, France – Apartment from Airbnb (see discount below)

    July 30 – August 2, 206 (3 nights)
    Cost:  €165
    Type:  A 2 bedroom apartment with 1 bath.  There was a queen room and a room with bunk beds.  We also had a wrap around terrace, wifi, private parking and it was very close to the city center.
    Exploring Bordeaux France Thoughts:  This apartment was very artsy and clean.  We arrived on a Saturday night and the owner was very flexible with our meeting time.  We did enjoy this apartment and wished we had more time in the area.  Like Spain, France doesn’t have much open on a Sunday, so we really just had Monday to go out and explore. There were a couple of restaurants and a large grocery store near the apartment.

  12. Feurs, France –  Apartment from Airbnb (see discount below)

    August 2 – 5, 2016 (3 nights)
    Cost:  €165
    Type:  A 5 bedroom, 1 bath townhouse.  1 room with queen bed, 1 room with 2 twin beds, 3 rooms with a full bed and 1 room with 1 twin.  Street parking, wifi, full kitchen and in the center of the village.
    Feurs France master bedroomThoughts:  This rental was full of historic charm, high ceilings and modern kitchen and bathroom.  There was a very small terrace in the back and it was very clean.  Finally we had loads of space to all just veg and have plenty of “me time”.  We all kind of scattered throughout the house for the week.  We would recommend staying here.

  13. August 5 – 14, 2016 (8 nights)
    Morzine, France – House sit, booked with Trusted Housesitters (US)
    Cost:  €0 – Value for this date range priceless (there is an annual membership fee for the housesitting site.  I think we paid $75)
    Type:  A 6 bedroom luxury ski chalet with rooms and beds everywhere!  🙂  We just used 2 of the rooms, one with king bed and the other with 2 twins.  Free parking, wifi, and a hot tub.  Excellent hiking out the front door and along the river.
    Morzine House sit second floor living area and windowsThoughts:  This was a house sit, which means we were staying at the property and taking care of their puppy while they were away on vacation.  This is our 5th house sit and we just love it.   We wrote a full post on this Morzine house sit, so please feel free to read all about it here.  Read our post on everything you need to know about house sitting.  There were plenty of things to do in Morzine and of course we share our list with you.
  14. Grenoble, France – Residhotel Grenette 

    August 14 – 16, 2016 (2 nights)
    Cost:  €175
    Type:  A 1 bedroom apartment with full bed, pull out trundle sofa.  We ended up getting a second studio apartment with a full bed.  Paid parking nearby, wifi, and AC. Excellent walking location in Grenoble.
    Grenoble France small spacesThoughts:  This apartment was very small, but appeared to have what we needed. That is until we looked in the bedroom and realized it was just a full bed.  That is the thing with European hotels, they will list “double” bed and I guess technically a full is that.  It is tough to find a queen or king, but sometimes they list them as “large double” beds.  The “large double” bed was a full size bed and the “sofa couch” was more like a trundle (which is great if there is room to open it).

    The photos showed a larger apartment than what we received.  I guess you just get the leftovers when you arrive at night.  After a bit of negotiation, we ended up getting a second room, as there was no way the 4 of us would all fit on a bed.  She gave us a good discount, but it was still frustrating.  You can read more about it on our details of the last week of our road trip.

  15. Plan Diderot, Montblanc, France – Apartment from Airbnb (see discount below)

    August 16 – 18, 2016 (2 nights)
    Cost:  €155
    Type:  This was a private apartment above the family winery.  It had one large bedroom with a full bed and 2 twin beds as well as a pull out sofa.  Free parking, wifi, and AC.
    Montblanc-Apartment,-Winery-and-RestaurantThoughts:  This apartment was very spacious and clean.  It’s located in a very small town, but it is just what we need on the home stretch of the road trip.  We didn’t need too many activities to distract us from catching up on work.  The owner was wonderful and even provided us with a tour of his winery and a tasting of 8 wines.  Alan wrote about our stay and the winery, so check it out!

  16. Castellón de la Plana, Spain –  Hotel Sercotel Parc Plana

    August 18, 2016 (1 night)
    Cost:  €116
    Type:  Hotel, 2 separate rooms with 2 twin beds each.  Free parking, wifi, and AC.
    Castellon SpainThoughts:  This was just a place to stop in between France and Murcia, Spain.  It is about 1 hour north of Valencia and really all we could find available for even 1 night.  We arrived in the evening and left in the morning, so didn’t do much of anything here.  The hotel was nice and modern and right off of the toll road.  That said it was really the only thing around for a couple of miles, so pretty isolated.  It worked out well for our purposes and there was free underground parking.  Just what we needed.

  17. Roldán, Spain – La Torre Golf Resort (Murcia)

    August 19 – 22, 2016 (4 nights)
    Cost:  €250 (included in that price was a €50 key drop off and €65 cleaning fee)
    Type:  A 2 bedroom 1 bath apartment.  Each bedroom had 2 twin beds. Free parking, wifi, pool, and AC.
    Murcia Spain apartment rental at La Torre Golf resortMurcia Spain apartment rental at La Torre Golf resort

    Thoughts:  If we were to imagine what it would be like to plop a golfing community on the moon, it would likely look something like this place.  The actual neighborhood and community were well-kept and very large.  There was a supermarket, ATM and a couple of restaurants available as well.  Once you leave the property, there isn’t one thing for many miles.

    It looks like in its heyday, this was quite the upscale place, with a large intercontinental hotel and lake front restaurants, all of which are closed down now.  The apartment itself was clean and basic.  It had AC and was a great place for us to just enjoy the pool and make very few outings.  If you don’t mind being a bit far from other amenities, this place is a deal.

    I would say there are well over 1000 apartments and villas in the community, so I am sure you could find something on just about any search engine.  Here is an example of a villa on booking and we booked ours via HomeAway.

  18. Home Sweet Home in Almuñécar, Spain! August 22, 2016
    Wagoners Abroad Almunecar Spain View! noche de san juan

The booking tools we usually use for any of our accommodation on road trips or any trip:

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From Luxury to Misery 8 Weeks of Accommodation - European Road Trip. Click to read more on WagonersAbroad.com

Please keep in mind we are sharing all of our actual details and costs with you.  Prices may vary based on dates and other circumstances, so we can’t guarantee you will find the same deal we did.  Some of the links included are affiliate links, which means if you make a booking we will get a very small commission.

2 thoughts on “From Luxury to Misery, 8 Weeks of Accommodation

  1. I think it is scary how different accommodation can be from how it is advertised. We have never used AirBnB and whilst I can see that one of your stays through them turned out well that first one would put me off ever booking with them again. I have heard so many horror stories about some of the accommodation on offer through this particular website that I have stayed clear and whilst I appreciate there are many lovely properties on there I think I will continue to stay clear in the future. Love the look of your house sit though – something I think I need to consider for future travels – do you just use trustedhousesitters or any other websites as well? Also, did you struggle to get your first housesit without any references from previous home owners?

    • Hey Tam! It is amazing for sure. I wouldn’t completely write off Airbnb, as we did have a few other nice experiences on this trip. I learned to really read the reviews and to pull up google maps to see exactly where it is located. Then read a bit more about that specific area online too. It is quite a bit of extra work, but I think it paid off for our other rentals.

      As far as housesitting, we do usually use trustedhousesitters. You can browse all of the possibilities for free and then sign up when you find something you would like to apply for. Here is more info about housesitting and a discount code to sign up too! If you are new and don’t have any past formal housesitting, think of a friend or family member you may have helped out in the past. At a minimum get some character references to get you started. A police background check is always nice to have handy as well.

      Just remember when you apply for a housesit, it isn’t about you getting a free place to stay. It is about you taking care of someone’s home and/or pets, so focus on that when you send that initial contact. Make sure you cover how responsible you are, how clean you are, how much you love pets etc… But don’t make up stories, just be real. 🙂

      I hope that helps and safe travels!

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