Inside the Cheapo 100: What exactly is a “Super Cheapo” hotel?

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The Circus Hostel in Berlin, Germany
Outside the Circus Hostel. Photo by masck.

Last month we announced our “Cheapo 100″ list of our favorite cheap hotels in Europe. These 100 hotels were chosen from 20 cities and selected for five categories, including “Best Location”, “Best Budget Theme”, “Best Budget Style”, “Best B&B or Pension” and “Best Super Cheapo”.

But what exactly is a “Super Cheapo”? Is it simply the cheapest hotel in the city?

One commenter, Olivier, logically noted that our pick for Berlin, the Circus Hostel in Mitte, offers double rooms for $69-86. Sure, that’s cheap-ish, but you can easily find cheaper in the city. He writes:

“As far as I see, this list is a bit poor…. for ex. in Berlin : room for 2, shower/toilets outside but very clean = less than 30 euros in Berlin city hotel (located on the subway ring); another one : 30 euro as well, for a room+shower+toilets+free wifi, in the funkturm hotel (near ICC)…”

Why didn’t we pick one of those hotels?

Defining a “Super Cheapo”

Our definition of a “Super Cheapo” hotel is one that provides the basics in a great location and at a rate that’s low for the city. They’re mostly “no-frills” kind of places. Here’s a more detailed look at the criteria followed for picking a “Super Cheapo”:

1. Editor’s Pick

For starters, our “Cheapo 100″ list drew on hotels that are already featured as “Editor’s Picks” on the site. This isn’t because we’re lazy, but rather because these hotels have all been personally verified! They have each been visited by a EuroCheapo editor, inspected and photographed.

2. Central location

In order to be an “editor’s pick” or make the “Cheapo 100″ list, a hotel needs to be central. This is certainly not a criteria for all budget travelers, but it has always been a priority for our editors. We like to be located in a central part of the city—be it Berlin, Paris or Rome. Nearly without exception, all of our editor’s picks are located within walking distance of major tourist sights. We don’t have anything against public transportation, mind you. It’s just that life is a bit easier when you can walk home at night.

3. Private rooms

We focus on budget hotel recommendations on EuroCheapo. Sometimes, however, we also recommend hostels—provided that they also offer private rooms. By “private,” we mean rooms that you don’t share with strangers. (You may still have to share a bath.)

For most cities in the Cheapo 100, we choose a hotel as our “Super Cheapo.” In Berlin, however, we couldn’t resist giving the award to the Circus Hostel, as it offers plenty of private rooms.

4. Clean

It goes without saying that the hotels on our list need to be clean. We inspect the rooms, baths, hallways and shared baths.

5. Room rates

Finally, and most obviously, the hotel needs to be cheap. For our “Super Cheapo” award, the room needs to be notably less expensive than others of its caliber and location. We also considered “extras,” such as breakfast, Wi-Fi and room amenities, although they were not of chief importance for this award, as we were mostly concerned with the basics.

Back to the Circus

So, why did we choose the Circus Hostel in Berlin?

The Circus has been an “Editor’s Pick” for the past five years. I remember visiting for the first time in the fall of 2005 and being impressed by the rooms, especially the privates with balconies (and fabulous views) on the top floors. The location is great, too—just at the border of Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte, within easy walking distance of museums, cafés, shopping, restaurants, clubs and public transit. We were initially hesitant to give the award to a hostel, but, as I mentioned, the Circus offers plenty of privates. Finally, the low rates sealed the deal.

The hotels that Olivier mentions sound interesting. He notes that they’re clean, cheap and well-equipped. Their location, however, does not seem central. (Some, especially those on business, will find the second hotel’s location near the ICC conference center convenient, although it’s not our favorite part of town.) Lastly, neither has been visited by us, and thus don’t qualify.

We’ll look into them, however, and consider a visit in the future.

How do you choose a “Super Cheapo”?

We invite you to check out all of the “Super Cheapos” from our “Cheapo 100″ list.

Of course, your “Super Cheapo” criteria may be different from ours. Search away, sort by price, read through user reviews and you may find something perfectly acceptable and cheaper that we haven’t yet visited. Maybe you’ll also find something central. Maybe, in fact, you’ll find a hotel we should add to our list of editor’s picks.

If you do, we invite you to email us and suggest a hotel for us to visit and inspect during our next hotel update. We’re always looking for great new cheap hotels to add!

About the author

Tom Meyers

About the author: Tom Meyers created and launched EuroCheapo from his Berlin apartment in 2001. He returned to New York in 2002, set up office, and has led the EuroCheapo team from the Big Apple ever since. He travels to Europe several times a year to update EuroCheapo's hotel reviews. Tom is also a co-host of the New York City history podcast, The Bowery Boys. Email Tom. [Find Tom on Google Plus]

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One thought on “Inside the Cheapo 100: What exactly is a “Super Cheapo” hotel?”

  1. I’ve just tried out the new Tune Hotel in Westminster in London. It definitely fits your criteria – basic, clean and cheap. You have to pay extra for add-ons (so do a Douglas Adams and remember to bring your own towel!) and the rooms are decidedly cosy, but overall it’s a bargain for such a central location.


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