Designer Philippe Starck is getting into the boutique-budget market with the Mama Shelter hotel in Paris.
Chic boutique hotels on a budget
Like airlines, low-cost hotels are changing the way we travel. Here's how to stretch your travel dollar without killing the buzz of a hip stay. When rifling through accommodation options in big cities, choosing budget hotels can be a miserable exercise in bullet-dodging. Tune Hotels It’s a netherworld of threadbare towels, mould-dashed showers in the hallway, sweaty box rooms more suited to prison-based fever dreams, and mattresses with the weight-bearing capabilities of a soggy cardboard box left outside in a thunderstorm. It doesn’t take many visits to the curiously interchangeable budget hotels in London’s King’s Cross area, for example, to make the Tune Hotels concept sound relatively attractive.   In short, base rates are low, while you pay for any add-ons – be it air-con, wi-fi, in-room safes, a TV or towels and toiletries. That’s not quite as annoying as it may sound. With rooms in London starting at $60, I don’t mind paying an extra $5 a day for 24-hour web access and $2.50 for towels and toiletries. (I’d not use the safe or TV anyway.) The rooms are undeniably small, but crucially, they’re furnished to a high standard with comfortable beds, power showers and an overall sense of clean, smart slickness.   CEO, Mark Lankester, reckons that low-cost airlines have conditioned travellers to recognise that spending less doesn’t have to equate to poor quality. And paying extra for some amenities is a matter of choice.   But he also points out a new breed of traveller – known in marketing speak as the ‘Millennial’. “They’re voracious travellers and world citizens,” says Lankester. “For them, the size of the room is less important as long as it’s affordably priced, comfortable and – importantly – has great internet connectivity.”   Over the last decade, a handful of other design-focused budget chains have cropped up – all pushing a variation on the quality, cool and affordable shtick. Motel One Motel One – all egg chairs, trendy lamps, iPads and rates from $73 a night – is expanding out from its German base and now has five UK properties, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Manchester and Newcastle. Citizen M and Chic&Basic The artier, minimalist Chic&Basic has invaded Amsterdam from its Spanish hub, while Citizen M has expanded into New York, Boston and Seattle after tagging in Glasgow, Paris, London and Copenhagen to its Dutch properties. The latter has buzzy common areas and canteen-style self-service restaurants to complement pod-style rooms where all electronics – mood lighting, electronic blinds, the works – are controlled from a bedside screen.   Each brand has its quirks, but in common is the assumption that guests will trade space and supposedly outdated services for affordability, connectivity and centrality.   Natasha McLaughlin, Land Product Manager for STA Travel, says these hotels aren’t just appealing to budget travellers – guests are being pinched from mid-range chains. “The likes of Novotel and Holiday Inn have their appeal as they are internationally consistent. However, everyone wants something boutique, stylish, and something a bit special, so I can understand why these hotel styles are trending.” Moxy The big boys are now getting in on the act – Marriott has joined forces with IKEA for the Moxy chain, which first opened its doors in Milan in 2014, and has since expanded across 14 European countries, the UK, Japan, Indonesia and across the USA. Mama Shelter Even legendary luxury designer Philippe Starck is dipping his toes in, collaborating on Mama Shelter, which kicked off in Paris in 2008. The brand has since expanded to other French cities,  Belgrade, Prague, and Los Angeles. GM and co-owner, Jeremie Trigano, uses terms such as “urban kibbutz” and “sensual refuge” to describe the hotels. All come with free movies, an overload of in-room technology and high-end bedding. But rates start at $73.   With all of these up-and-coming chains, however, suitability depends on mentality. For wallet-conscious solo travellers and those who use hotels as a necessary base for exploring the city, they’re ideal. For couples, the rooms can be a squash if spending more time in them beyond sleeping and getting changed. Full-on city break or non-expense account business overnighter? Yes. Romantic weekend? No.   But getting a cheap big city room no longer needs to be a grim game of Russian roulette.
Today Show cruise deals: Best domestic and International offers
With 1.4 million Aussies choosing to cruise last year, it’s no wonder there’s a bounty of phenomenal deals on incredible vessels to choose from. Whether you’re keen for a European adventure, or have exploring the Kimberleys on your bucket list – there’s a cruise, and a suitable discount – to suit.
100 tips, tricks and hacks from travel insiders – More for less
Want more for your money? Silly question - who doesn't? Our travel experts have served up just the ticket when it comes to reserving more moolah for great food and drinks...
6 must see tropical treasures of Samoa that won’t stay a secret for much longer
Samoa is the ultimate paradise island full of tropical wonders and luckily remains relatively untouched. Head off to explore the Pacific gem before it gets too crowded, and be sure to include these places on your itinerary.   Samoa, a nation made up of two main islands in the Pacific Ocean, is the definition of a tropical escape. The destinations are gorgeous, the people are sweet and the vibe is chilled. Under 130,000 people visit the small island nation each year, as opposed to the almost 800,000 who jet off to Fiji.   So, if you’re the type of person who likes a little more room around you on the beach, an incredibly local experience in a diner and pure peace and quite everywhere you go, then Samoa is for you. But get in quick, because the islands are only getting busier!   Now, before you screenshot the below list of hidden treasures across the main islands of Savai’i and Upolu, just remember a few things 1.You need a car to get around – as there aren’t that many hire cars on the island we recommend pre-booking 2.Don’t rely on the internet – sharpen up those map reading skills 3.It’s all about cash, cash, cash – fill up those pockets   [caption id="attachment_42809" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Falealupo Western Tip, Savai’i[/caption] Afu Aau waterfall, Savai’i Living up to its tropical nature, Samoa is full of spectacular waterfalls that provide for the most refreshing mid-day dips. Along with Togitogiga, Afu Aau is one of the most popular dipping destinations on the islands, and rightly so. The spring water is so clear and crisp that it will probably be a minute or two before you immerse yourself fully, but once you do, you’ll float in it for hours. You’ll be stopped at a fale (thatched hut) on the dirt road leading to the waterfall and asked to pay the $5 tala (approximately $2.50) fee. Sacred Heart church, Savai’i Samoans put strong value in religion and family. Located in Safotu village, Sacred Heart is one of the largest churches on the island of Savai’i that also serves as a school. Its vibrant nature is exactly that of the beautiful Samoan people. There is no entry fee to have a look around but note that during school hours you aren’t able to enter the grounds. Falealupo western tip, Savai’i Among many things, one great aspect of travelling around the island of Savai’i is that there is a very low chance you’ll ever get lost. There is only one main road that gets you around the island and all your pit stops are along this road.   Once you start to reach the western tip of Savai’i, your route escapes into thick, luscious rainforest that truly ignites your visual senses. Along the road you’ll pass the Se’eti Beach Fales which are a must-pit-stop for a quick dip and tan, before you jump back and continue along the incredible route. If you fall in love with the pit stop however, don’t worry you can actually stay in the fales overnight! Lefagaoali’i village pools, Savai’i Ever wanted to take a dip in a rock pool without having fifty people chatting and splashing around you? The Lefagaoali’i village pools in Savai’i are the perfect park spot for uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean. They are like no other rock pools you’ve ever experienced and much of the time, they’ll be all yours to enjoy! Entry is $10 tala per vehicle and $2 tala per person for a dip. Just note there are separate female and male pools. Aganoa Black Sand Beach, Upolu A long, open stretch of soft sand on the coast of the Pacific, with not a soul in sight? Yes please! Aganoa Black Sand Beach tickles your curiosity and doesn’t disappoint once you arrive. The sand is really black and the beach is really magnificent.   The best bit though; in the late afternoon you’ll usually get the whole beach to yourself. You’ll be greeted by villagers under a fale at the start of the dirt road that leads to the beach. Entry fee is $10 tala per vehicle. Tu Sua Ocean Trench, Upolu There are no words to describe this wonder of the world. Tu Sua Ocean Trench is quickly starting to make waves in the world of Instagram, and rightly so. Once you build up the courage to climb down the wooden ladder on the side of the trench, you’ll never want to leave this place.   Make sure you get there early to avoid a crowd and get a good photo. Entry is $20 tala per person and it is so damn worth it!
Jazz, soul and sights: promises of a walking tour through Harlem
From Morningside Heights to a walking tour through Harlem, Upper Manhattan marches to the beat of its own drum, writes Kristie Hayden.
Here is a list of the best luxury hostels in the world
Forget backpacker horror stories, Michelle Tchea discovers how hostels are stepping up their game and catering to the luxury traveller.   If you thought luxury travel and hostels could not co-exist, think again.   Call it a trend or perhaps a 'disruption' in the hotel industry, aided by the rise of the digital nomad, a new breed of hostels is demystifying stereotypes of living thrifty, and giving budget-conscious travellers a chance to indulge in hotel perks for hostel prices. Think designer furniture, technology-driven amenities and a private suite with a flat-screen TV and. Imagine a rooftop pool with views of Hollywood, a spa and wellness centre overlooking the Swiss Alps and even a stargazing chalet in the middle of Scotland. And all for some loose change.   Here are some of the best luxury-inspired hostels to help you plan your next holiday destination. The Salty Pelican Yoga and Surf Retreat, Cascais, Portugal Address: R. Madrid 6, 2765-419 Cascais, Portugal [caption id="attachment_45365" align="alignnone" width="600"] The grand exterior of the beach retreat.[/caption] Yoga-junkies and surf-heads, this one is for you. If you thought yoga retreats came with a hefty credit card bill, venture over to the golden bays of Cascais in Portugal and stay at The Salty Pelican.   Created by three backpackers and powered by well-known surf brands Roxy and Quiksilver, expect everything you love in an expensive yoga retreat but for a fraction of the price. Opt for a variety of packages, including the seven-night surf and yoga package from $753 in low season, or simply kick back and relax for a few nights on the cheap: its dorm rooms start at $30 per night and private rooms overlooking the sea from $155. With free wi-fi and daily buffet breakfast, it’s a haven for beachgoers on a tight-budget. [caption id="attachment_45364" align="alignnone" width="600"] Colourful bunks.[/caption] TOC Barcelona, Spain Address: Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 580, 08011 Barcelona, Spain   TOC Barcelona puts trendy Japanese pod hotels to shame. A unique hostel in the heart of Barcelona with designer furniture and excellent hotel-like amenities. There is a terrace with a swimming pool, as well as free wi-fi, bar, kitchen, game zone and technology-charged rooms. [caption id="attachment_45391" align="alignnone" width="600"] Just one of the stylish common area of the TOC Barcelona, Spain.[/caption] Double superior suites come with private terraces and panoramic views of the city from $120 per night; shared rooms start from $47 a night.   Freehand Los Angeles, USA Address: 416 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014, USA   With Freehand in Los Angeles, you can see the city of stars on a budget. Live it up like an A-list celebrity in downtown L.A., with spacious suites and upscale shared rooms which do not look like regular bunk rooms at all, thanks to local designers Roman & Williams. The private loft and largest suite, Burroughs Suite, are extremely spacious and equipped with free wi-fi, retro cinematic furnishings and a giant LED television. There are four bars and eateries to choose from: don’t leave without enjoying a cocktail at the Broken Shaker, located next to the rooftop pool deck. [caption id="attachment_45381" align="alignnone" width="600"] The famous rooftop pool, Freehand, Los Angeles.[/caption] Rooms start at $86 a night. WellnessHostel4000, Saas-Fee, Switzerland Address: Panoramastrasse 1, 3906 Saas-Fee, Switzerland   If you ever dreamed of a white Christmas and wanted to do it in style – Switzerland would be the first choice, right? Rather than breaking your budget in St. Moritz or Montreux, give your wallet a break and visit WellnessHostel4000 in Saas-Fee. The contemporary architecture and high-quality upscale Swiss amenities – which include fitness centre, spa and award-winning restaurant – leave other hostels in the dust. A Finnish sauna, bio-soft sauna and whirlpool are just the beginning of the relaxation and wellness facilities on offer in this state-of-the-art hostel. You might not even feel inclined to leave the hostel and hit the slopes. [caption id="attachment_45387" align="alignnone" width="600"] Chic and simple digs at the WellnessHostel4000, Saas-Fee, Switzerland.[/caption] Rooms from $100 per night. Grand Ferdinand, Vienna, Austria Address: Schubertring 10-12, 1010 Wien, Austria [caption id="attachment_45363" align="alignnone" width="600"] The grand bunks of the Grand Ferdinand, Vienna, Austria.[/caption] Spread out over seven floors, the Grand Ferdinand’s 188 rooms range from opulent suites to elegant single rooms but the pièce de résistance is the hostel-like rooms attached to the historical hotel. The eight-bed dorm room is decked out in rich mahogany and marble. Rooms start at $45 per night: affordable luxury comes easily for Grand Ferdinand guests. At your doorstep are all the museums, monuments and coffee houses of Vienna’s old town, as well as the leafy Stadtpark and its golden Johann Strauss memorial.   Bookings for the dorm rooms are available via Airbnb. Generator Hostels, across Europe [caption id="attachment_45382" align="alignnone" width="600"] Inside the common area of the Generator Hostel in Hamburg, Germany.[/caption] A powerhouse of a chain, the Generator Hostels group is known for its one-of-a-kind hostels in cities typically populated with expensive hotels. In Paris, one of the newest Generator Hostels is located in the hip 10th Arrondissement and gives travellers a stylish Parisian escape without breaking the bank. [caption id="attachment_45384" align="alignnone" width="600"] The stylish bunks at the Generator Hostel in Venice.[/caption] Close to the art galleries of Canal Saint-Martin, the hostel has its own rooftop bar that overlooks the trendy Montmartre neighbourhood as well as a notable restaurant, Café Fabien, to entice hungry travellers after a day spent exploring Paris. [caption id="attachment_45383" align="alignnone" width="600"] Inside one of the rooms at the Generator Hostel in Rome.[/caption] The private suites are spacious and come with a terrace and hammock, but the shared dorm rooms are a bargain and not to be scoffed at, starting at $27 a night.   Dream Hostel, Tampere, Finland Address: Åkerlundinkatu 2, 33100 Tampere, Finland   [caption id="attachment_45362" align="alignnone" width="600"] Breakfast is served. Dream Hostel, Tampere, Finland.[/caption] If you thought you could not see Finland on a budget, consider your dream reborn at Dream Hostel. The hostel is attached to a hotel but if you want to save a couple of dollars, the cheaper hostel rooms are equally delightful. A warm Scandinavian design resonates throughout the hostel and the perks of free wi-fi and free dinners on occasion make it more than ample for the average traveller. [caption id="attachment_45361" align="alignnone" width="600"] A two-bed private room. Dream Hostel, Tampere, Finland[/caption] Bunks start at just $36 a night. PLUS Hostel Berlin, Germany Address: Warschauer Pl. 6, 10245 Berlin, Germany   Berlin has some really great upscale hostels but if you are looking for something truly spectacular, check into PLUS Hostel Berlin. The rooftop bar and a variety of wellness options, which include yoga classes, are great for travellers with lots of energy. But it’s the glittering swimming pool that sets this hostel apart from the rest. All rooms come with their own private bathroom and the restaurant, Opera, serves excellent cocktails to wrap up a great stay. [caption id="attachment_45386" align="alignnone" width="600"] The incredible pool inside PLUS Hostel in Berlin, Germany.[/caption] Dorm rooms start at just $24 a night. Star Hostel Taipei, Taiwan Address: No. 50號, Huayin Street, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan 103   Consistently voted as one of the best hostels in the world, Star Hostel Taipei is known for its clean setting and designer-vibe within a rather bustling and gritty city. Free breakfast, tea and wi-fi are great calling cards but the Scandinavian minimalistic feel to the cosy rooms make it a hostel worth staying in. Wooden timber panels encase an urban garden which doubles as a social hub. The private suites are worth splurging on for some extra privacy, and don’t forget to book yourself a bubble tea making class in the hostel to feel right at home. [caption id="attachment_45388" align="alignnone" width="600"] Cosy, interesting sleeping suites at Star Hostel Taipei, Taiwan.[/caption] Dorm rooms start from $30. Skyewalker Hostel, Isle of Skye, Scotland Address: The Old School, Portnalong, Isle of Skye IV47 8SL, United Kingdom   If you find yourself in the middle of the Cuillin mountain range located on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, do yourself a favour and stay in the Skyewalker Hostel. Private suites come in the form of Jedi Huts where you have your own private oasis in a wooden cabin to experience a full glamping experience. The glass solar-dome is a favourite, with excellent views of the night-sky. The hostel is within reach of a whisky distillery, sea eagle-spotting and access to the exhilarating Cuillin mountain range for avid and experienced hikers. [caption id="attachment_45385" align="alignnone" width="600"] The famous glass dome; a popular hangout for guests of the Skyewalker Hostel, Isle of Skye, Scotland.[/caption] Dorm rooms start from $30 per night.  
Pumphouse Point, Tasmania
7 unique sleeps in the world’s best destinations
Expedia travel expert, Lisa Perkovic, passionately believes that where you stay can make or break your holiday. When she travels she seeks accommodation that offers something special to add to her overall experience, from hotels featuring a unique history to those that showcase innovative design. Here, she shares her top picks to add to your bucket list...   ***This article was created in conjunction with our sponsors Expedia*** The Warehouse Hotel, Singapore Once an old spice mill, this boutique hotel is still hot property. With only 37 rooms, it is perfect for a work trip, stopover or a longer break. Perched right on the Singapore River in Robertson Quay, it’s clear there is a focus on highlighting the industrial heritage and showcasing local talent in the form of artwork, furniture and cuisine. Singapore is known for its humidity, so the glass-sided rooftop infinity pool is an added bonus. [caption id="attachment_42015" align="alignleft" width="1000"] The Warehouse Hotel, Singapore[/caption] Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali Hidden away on limestone cliffs 100 metres above the Indian Ocean, the Alila Villas Uluwatu are Bali luxe at its best. Designed with locally sourced and sustainable materials, the minimalist villas all have their own plunge pools, private cabanas as well as indoor and outdoor showers – bliss! Make sure you join a morning yoga class in the Pavilion, with spectacular views to boot. [caption id="attachment_42017" align="alignleft" width="450"] Alila Hotel, Uluwatu, Bali[/caption] Pumphouse Point, Tasmania On the shores of Lake St Clair in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Pumphouse Point is another idyllic hotel with a rich history lovingly brought back to life. Built in the 1930s as a hydroelectricity station, the style is suitably understated – rooms are comfortably appointed so as not to detract from the view, and dinner is a shared affair each night in The Shorehouse. Mount Engadine Lodge, Alberta, Canada Regardless of the season, a stay at Mount Engadine Lodge will not disappoint. Tucked into the mountains in Spray Valley Provincial Park, the scenery year-round is simply jaw-dropping. There’s plenty to do during the day and the all-inclusive property kindly packs you a lunch to take on your adventures. After a day spent outdoors, guests can relax in the laid-back, homely vibe of the lodge. [caption id="attachment_42018" align="alignleft" width="450"] Mount Engadine Lodge, Alberta, Canada[/caption] The Ludlow, New York City, USA Smack bang in the middle of the hip and happening Lower East Side, The Ludlow is surrounded by trendy cafes and shops, and oozes style. Combining an industrial lofty vibe and simple, luxe furnishings, rooms range in size though all have large windows perfect for observing the bustling streets of New York below. Dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Dirty French, which is popular with locals, is a must, as is curling up and enjoying some wine in the cosy lobby bar. [caption id="attachment_42019" align="alignleft" width="868"] The Ludlow, New York City, USA[/caption] 54 On Bath, Johannesburg, South Africa Johannesburg is a major gateway to Africa and an essential stopover for many before they begin their Safari experience. If you’re after comfort and convenience, 54 On Bath is located in the cosmopolitan suburb of Rosebank and is attached to Rosebank Mall. [caption id="attachment_42020" align="alignleft" width="450"] 54 on Bath, Johannesburg, South Africa[/caption] The Mall is home to The Grillhouse, a well-known restaurant serving delicious and affordable steaks. Afternoons are best spent relaxing on the rooftop garden terrace by the lap pool with a gin and tonic. Six Senses Fiji, Malolo Island Recently opened on Malolo Island, part of the Mamanuca Islands, Six Senses Fiji is the island nation’s newest luxury resort. It’s safe to say that the property really ups the ante when it comes to the ‘fly and flop’ holiday Fiji has become synonymous with. The 100 per cent solar-powered resort has 24 private villas, each with their own pools plus options for families or larger groups. There are also three dining venues and a gourmet deli to indulge in. [caption id="attachment_42021" align="alignleft" width="765"] Six Senses Fiji, Malolo Island[/caption] To book one of these amazing hotels, visit Expedia.
You’ve heard of tiny houses – introducing the tiny hotel
As the tiny house movement gains pace across the globe, Rob McFarland checks out some small spaces in Portland, Oregon that are big on style and fun. Once upon a time, hotels were all about lavish indulgence. They’d have giant spa baths, luxury toiletries and towering stacks of fluffy white towels. Of course, some still do, but most properties pay at least lip-service to guests’ increasing concerns about the environment. Baths have been replaced by showers; towels are no longer changed daily and toiletries are refilled rather than replaced.   It’s a good start but many would argue that to really reduce your footprint you need to do something more drastic – take up less space. The tiny house movement has been slowly gaining momentum in the USA, with people trading in their sprawling McMansions for smaller, more eco-friendly properties. Predictably, it was only a matter of time before someone did the same with a hotel. The founders of Tiny Digs spent eight months looking for the right location for their hotel of ‘tiny houses’. Eventually they settled on an old car lot in Portland, Oregon’s vibrant Kerns neighbourhood, six kilometres east of the city centre. After launching in September 2016 with six houses, they now have eight and plan to add more.   I stayed in the Cabin, which is an adorable homage to all things woody. The interior is made from tongue-and-groove cedar, the outside is covered with cedar logs and the bathroom door is fashioned from beetle-damaged pine. Miraculously, the designers have crammed a queen-size bed, a kitchenette, a dining table, a sofa (which converts into a second bed) and an en suite into a floor space of just 14 square metres. Make no mistake, it’s cosy – you wouldn’t want to throw a dance party or attempt to cook a six-course meal – but it just shows what’s possible when you apply clever design to a compact space.   All but one of the houses was designed by one of the hotel’s four founders: each has a different theme and the attention to detail is utterly charming. The Gypsy Wagon (the one exception – it was purchased) is a bohemian riot of brightly coloured fabrics, the Beach is all soothing pastel blues and the Barn has a sink fashioned out of an old whisky barrel. My log cabin is decorated with suitably outdoorsy pictures of grizzly bears and rutting stags, plus there’s an eclectic reading selection that includes a tongue-in-cheek wilderness survival guide with a chapter on how to negotiate with a hippie. The houses are arranged in a semi-circle around a communal fire pit and the compound is illuminated by strings of twinkling lights. It’s a homely, welcoming set-up and guests often congregate around the fire over a drink. Of course, a hotel is only as good as its location and Tiny Digs is ideally situated one block from NE 28th Avenue, known locally as ‘restaurant row’. Within a 10-minute stroll are more than 50 restaurants and brewpubs, offering up everything from Cuban to Thai to classic American comfort food. If you want to explore further afield, there’s a Biketown rental station nearby or downtown is only a 10-minute cab ride away.   To be fair, Tiny Digs wasn’t Portland’s first tiny house hotel. That honour goes to Caravan, which opened in 2013 in the Alberta Arts District. The property is still going strong, with six themed houses clustered around a cosy communal fire pit. [caption id="attachment_41930" align="alignleft" width="1500"] An ingenious solution for sleeping and lounging in the Modern tiny house[/caption] Head an hour east of Portland and you’ll find another collection of tiny dwellings in the Mt Hood Village RV resort. From here you’re well-positioned to explore the spectacularly verdant Mount Hood National Forest.   I’ll confess I was a little sceptical at the prospect of squeezing myself and my suitcase into such a compact space. But by the end of my stay I was a convert. I loved the ingenuity, the irreverent decoration and the sheer, irresistible cosiness of the place. It also made me think seriously about how much space and stuff one person really needs. Which, presumably, is the whole point. Tiny top spots: Tiny Digs Hotel 2646 NE Glisan Street, Portland. From $230 per night. Caravan 5009 NE 11th Avenue, Portland. From $220 per night. Mt Hood Tiny House Village 65000 E. Hwy 26, Welches, Oregon. From $185 per night.

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