I must admit, I’m usually a hostel-goer. I love the idea of spending very little money, meeting new people, and trying accommodations that might be a little off the radar. However, on this last trip to Norway, Visit Oslo graciously put us up at the Hotell Bodeheimen. With the start of our trip covered, I thought it would be interesting to try a hotel, Couchsurfing, and AirBnB all in one trip to compare and contrast.
Here what I found staying at all of these options and what I would recommend for those heading to Norway.
As someone who personally loves hotel rooms (I always think of them as a mini-vacation), it was such a treat to get to stay at the Hotell Bondeheimen. Located right downtown, it was an easy walk to everything that we wanted to see and offered easy access to the metro if you wanted to see anything outside the city limits. We were given a room with two beds, a couch, TV, and other services.
While I love staying in a hotel, it can be hard to get a taste of a place when you can seclude yourself so easily. We had the Visit Oslo app to help us know where to go and what to visit, but it wasn’t the same as having access to someone who knew the area and who could tell us about what life was like in Norway.
It was a bit extreme to head to someone’s couch after staying in a nice hotel, but we had the urge to get out of Oslo and to see some of the more rural areas of Norway. Jumping on a train, we headed to Moss where were could be crashing on Henning‘s couch.
Let’s just say, Henning was not the usual couchsurfing host. I’m honestly kind of afraid to try it again because I really don’t think I’ll have another host like him. Not only did he cook us dinner, introduce us to Norwegian television, and drive us around Moss, but he also took a day to show us around the nearby town of Fredrikstad. After staying with Henning (who has a very comfortable couch, by the way), I felt as though we had made a new friend.
He also was a huge superhero fan and had a life-size statue of Superman in his apartment. Score.
After working within the travel industry for years and hearing about the benefits of AirBnB, it seemed pretty ignorant that I hadn’t tried it out. I booked a room back in Oslo a little bit out of the city center. The cost was about the same as one night at the Hotell Bondeheimen, but were were highly disappointed in the results. The room that we were staying in was not the room that was advertised on the website, and our host was very strict on when we could leave the apartment and when we should return. She was also very busy and did not interact with us at all.
On our final day, we ended up getting lost and didn’t make it back at the specified time. Our host had already left, so in order to keep the door locked and to leave the key behind, we ended up having to jump out of the window.
Overall? I was most surprised by couchsurfing and how kind Henning was. There was something about how he invited us to his home because he wanted to, rather than as a transaction, that AirBnB lacked.
What are your experiences with these services?