Take a look at the five following examples of budget hotels in Europe that offered comfort, convenience and low price. They aren't perfect examples, and you could do even better in your searches. But they will provide some insight into how to spot and book a simple, economical discount hotel in Europe.
Example #1: A small town hotel
Der Torfkrug restaurant and inn is located in the "flower city" of Wiesmoor, in the northwest corner of Germany. This is not a high-traffic tourist destination, and this place was found because of its proximity to the town's bus station at the time of a driving rainstorm. A spotlessly clean room here and an excellent breakfast the next morning are €80 ($91 USD). The staff speaks some English, but the ability to speak a little elementary German is helpful here. There are thousands of towns like Wiesmoor across Europe where such inns exist. Ask a local tourist office or even the restaurant help where to find the best one in town.
Example #2: A no-frills hotel in a high-traffic area
Hotel Prinsenhof is a place where families find economy. It is not particularly fancy, and it's likely you'll climb multiple flights of stairs to reach your room. But two people can spend the night here for as little as $113 USD/night, or $232 for four people, which isn't too bad for expensive Amsterdam. One caveat: paying by credit card incurs a 5 percent penalty. Your breakfasts, service charges and taxes are included in the rate. As is the case at many budget hotels in Europe, not all rooms here have private toilet facilities. Each room does have wash basins with hot and cold water. The location of Hotel Prinsenhof is a few steps along Prinsengracht from the route of Tram 4, which runs directly to Central Station and the nearby Rembrandtsplein.
Example #3: Hotel in a quiet residential area of a big city
Arco Hotel in Berlin offers the best of two worlds: It is situated in a quiet residential neighborhood, and yet it is a short walk from Germany's largest department store. A few more minutes of walking will take you to Berlin's busy Zoo Bahnhof train station. The space now occupied by Arco Hotel was once an apartment building, and a walk around gives you the feel for life in Berlin in the 19th century. But a recent renovation added an elevator and other comforts you would associate with a three-star hotel. There are cheaper options in Berlin than Arco Hotel, but given the value and the location here, rates are good: single rooms start at €75 ($85 USD).
Example #4: Larger budget hotel in a capital city
As budget hotels go, Hotel Reytan is large: it offers 162 rooms in the heart of Warsaw, a short distance from the center of the commercial and entertainment districts. It is an example of a three-star hotel that offers a number of nice amenities without extravagant prices: A single room on weekend days in the off-season starts at about $64 USD, sometimes including breakfast and VAT. Summer rates are significantly higher but still reasonable. There are discounts for booking online. You will even find mints on your pillow and other personal touches often associated with much more expensive places. High-speed Internet and satellite television are also available in guest rooms. Within a short walk of the hotel are markets where you can buy the ingredients for a low cost meal for pocket change. It's a refreshing opportunity in the heart of a European capital.
Example #5: A budget hotel located on prime real estate
Hotel Casci couldn't be much more conveniently located for the Florence visitor. It is 500 meters from the Ponte Vecchio and Uffizi Gallery. It is even closer to the Duomo and the Museo dell'Accademia and its famous statue of David. Think of the time and money you can save walking to these locations. Rooms rates vary quite a bit by season. In the off season, a single room here might cost less than half the rate in high season. If you are able to pay in cash, you will receive a 10 percent discount on the published rates. If you can stay at least three nights, the management will provide one free admission ticket to the museum of your choice.