Not Looking for a Hotel? Here are Some Other Options

Magazine Features, Planning Tips

When Organizing a reunion, one of the biggest obstacles planners face is the accommodation of those pesky out-of-town attendees.

With the average daily hotel room rate increasing annually, booking multiple people in a hotel is a pricey venture. And you certainly don’t want your messy cousins staying in your guest room, which makes finding a suitable lodging situation for them a challenging prospect.

These reasons are, at least in part, why many planners opt for alternative accommodations for their guests. From Airbnb to religious housing, reunion architects often forego placing their family and friends in traditional hotels in favor of potentially cheaper options. Here are some of those choices and how to book them.

Apartment and home rentals:

Apartment and Home Rental App

Apartment and Home Rental App

With more than five million listings worldwide, Airbnb is a popular company in the travel world. While Airbnb might be the fastest growing player in the vacation rental market, it’s hardly the only one. Other websites like, vrbo. com and also enable guests to rent a room in someone’s house, apartment or cottage, typically for affordable rates. These options are attractive alternatives to hotels because the properties often offer a more welcoming vibe than hotels, giving guests a home-away-from-home feel.

Using Airbnb as an example, here’s how to book a room in a vacation rental:

  • Before requesting a reservation with a host, guests need to complete a profile that includes photos and verifications.
  • When searching for a property to rent, make sure to include your dates and the number of guests using the room in order to get the most accurate pricing. Read reviews, descriptions, house rules and amenities for each establishment to determine which place best fits your needs.You can also contact the host by sending them a message on Airbnb. Once the message is confirmed, you can message, email or call the host to communicate until the trip has concluded.
  • Once you are primed to book your place, you can choose from a pair of options. You can Instant Book, in which you confirm a reservation at your place on the website immediately or you can Request to Book, in which you submit a reservation request and hosts have 24 hours to accept your request.

Academic Housing:

Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill

Along the lines of Airbnb is academic housing, in which college dormitories rent out rooms to travelers when students have vacated the premises. The most popular time periods in which these rooms are available tend to be during summer, term breaks or weekends.

While it may be difficult to envision your Aunt Helen roughing it in a dorm room littered with Animal House posters, in truth, many colleges offer stays in higher-class locales with rates that are cheaper than hotels of comparable quality.

Perhaps the most festive time to book an on-campus room is when your family or friends have gathered for a university sporting event. Booking guests on campus will most likely ensure they are within walking distance of the stadium and can avoid battling the massive glut of traffic that will accompany the big game.

To find academic housing options, websites like can help you select rooms from across the globe. The site lets travelers book unused rooms at more than 400 universities and more than 100 cities across the world. If doesn’t suit your needs (the site features considerably more rooms in Europe than in the states), you can reach out to a university directly.

When contacting the university, ask about the rates, how to complete the booking and whether you need to bring your own linens and towels. Some colleges require you submit an application for short-term housing, and availability tends to be posted two to three months in advance, so book early.

Religious Housing:

A House

A House

For those family members that are faithful churchgoers, giving them the chance to stay in a convent, monastery, temple or synagogue could enhance their reunion experience considerably.
While religious retreats are distinctively cultural experiences, they also tend to fall on the economical side, with many locales offering free meals.

The best sites to find religious housing include, and

Using as an example, here’s how to book religious housing:

  • When visiting the site’s home page, type in your preferred destination, check-in and check-out date, the number of adults and children and what type of room you would like.
  • Once your information is inputted, the site will show you available locations including a summary, photos, room prices, capacity and a map of the location.
  • Click on the Book Now button to place your reservation.


Colorful Facades Of Houses In

Colorful Facades Of Houses In

Timeshares have gotten a bad rap for the notoriously aggressive nature of their salespeople. Take that element away though and timeshares often offer luxurious accommodations with a full kitchen, living room and a washer/dryer inside the unit, not to mention on-site pools and tennis courts.

In other words, timeshares can be a considerable step up from hotels. And with so many timeshares going unused at various points of the year, you can provide your guests lavish quarters and shelter them from hostile sales tactics by booking a timeshare directly from its owner.

Sites like and will help you rent a property for whatever amount of time you need. On those sites, you can view available properties and learn about their amenities before making a rental offer.


Hostel dormitory beds arranged in room

Hostel dormitory beds arranged in room

These no-frills accommodations tend to fall on the cheapest side of the ledger, as they offer dormitory-style rooms often with shared bathrooms.

While that option might not suit your rich Uncle Herbert, if your reunion is made up of a younger crowd that wants to spend their disposable income on food and liquor, this choice might appeal to them. Plus, with hostels offering six, eight and 10-person rooms, it will give your fraternity brothers a renewed chance to bond, just like the old days.

Sites like and hostels. com have thousands of properties around the world. To utilize these sites, click on the destination of the hostel, select your check-in and check-out dates and the number of guests.

It’s recommended you do your research before booking because a subpar hostel could be filthy and bugridden. On the flip side, some of the best hostels offer flexible check-ins, meaning if your guests arrive in town at noon, they may be able to check in then rather than tooling around town for hours with their luggage in tow. When you have narrowed down your hostel options, call each establishment and ask if they offer flexiblecheck-in times. The one that does should be the one that earns your business.


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