Tom Meyers in Paris
1) Who are you?
Iâ€™m Tom Meyers, the founder and editor of EuroCheapo.com, a guide to budget travel in Europe. Iâ€™m American and live in New York City.
2) What do you like about what you do?
First off, I love to travel and feel very fortunate that my job allows me to travel to Europe a couple times a year. After eight years of doing this, I still get a thrill every time I arrive in a city and head off to visit hotels.
I also really enjoy running my own business and, together with my business partner (and brother) Pete, making decisions, and implementing them right away on the site.
3) What donâ€™t you like about what you do?
I wish that I could travel more frequently. In the years following our 2001 launch, I was the only employee and operated EuroCheapo from my apartment in Berlin. My expenses were minimal, so everything went back into travel. I spent years roaming around European cities hunting down hotels. Now, fortunately, the business has â€œgrown upâ€ and we have grown-up expenses, and I travel less.
4) Please tell us all about your site/blog and your aims with it.
EuroCheapo.com is primarily focused on reviewing budget hotels in Europe. Our writers visit lots of cheap-ish hotels in 26 European cities, find the best deals, take photos and write a review. (note from hh: Eurocheapo’s blog is Eurocheapo Blog)
Our blog offers us a chance to supplement that information with other timely tips about how to visit these cities on a budget. With the blog, we can be immediate (for example, updates on rail strikes), write about things of seasonal interest (â€œwhere to celebrate Thanksgiving in Europeâ€), and do â€œon the roadâ€ reporting (our â€œWandering Cheaposâ€ series allows us to post while working abroad).
5) Your top 3 destination experiences youâ€™ve ever stayed to date and why?
A bike trip in the south of France â€“ One week cycling through Provence during the summer of 2007, visiting Roman ruins, enjoying leisurely lunches, and burning off all the calories on our bikes.
A trip to Tokyo and Kyoto â€“ because it was just so different from any of my European travels. It blew my mind.
St. Petersburg and Riga â€“ I spent two weeks in these cities in January 2009. It wasnâ€™t â€œfun,â€ but it was immensely interesting and very educational.
6) Your top 3 accommodations youâ€™ve ever stayed to date and why?
I still dream about a mountain-top monastery-turned-hotel (and amazing restaurant) in les Baux-de- Provence, France.
In Corsica, we stumbled upon a dusty old seaside â€œGrand Hotelâ€ just north of Ajaccioâ€”and I donâ€™t even remember its name!
Photo pinched from Art Luise
In Berlin, I love the artistry at the Kunstlerheim Luise, an art hotel in Berlin along the S-Bahn tracks in Mitte. Every room is designed and decked out by a different artist.
7) Your top 3 most memorable food experiences to date and why?
My work is done on a cheapo-budget, so my memorable meals have been on the budget-side. Call me predictable, but my three favorite meals were in France:
Sunday lunch in Chateauneuf-de-Papes, France in 2002. We feasted on duck, wine, dessertsâ€¦ happiness.
During that bike trip through Provence, in Baux les Romains, our â€œmonasteryâ€ offered dinner, with only local ingredients. I remember a steak au poivre, cheese platter, bottle of Cote de Provence, and my bed.
Tom and Friend
My boyfriend is French. Two years ago at his family reunion in Normandy, I got to experience the kind of feast an extended French family throws after not eating together for four years. Halfway through, just when I thought we had finished the meal, they brought out a bottle of Calvados from the basement, everyone took shots (which â€œopened the stomachâ€) and we all pushed onâ€¦
8) Your 3 worst destination/accommodation/food experiences to date an why?
Reviewing Venice hotels in December 2001 was pretty depressing. Itâ€™s already hard being a single guy in your 20s in Venice, much less in December when itâ€™s practically empty.
Night train from Budapest to Berlin in December 2001. I got locked in the bathroom at the end of the train, behind the cafÃ© car, and had to scream for ages to get anyoneâ€™s attention.
As someone who tries to find â€œfood deals,â€ Iâ€™ve experienced my share of bad meals. I get disappointed and a little depressed by the boring meals thrust upon tourists, usually in restaurants lining a cityâ€™s main square or pedestrian zone. I can think of many lame pizzas, pastas, beef thingies, sad salads, etc.
9) Can you offer the readers 3 travel/food/accommodation/things to do tips about the city you are currently living in?
Donâ€™t pay full-price for admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art! Their entrance fee of $20 for adults is only â€œrecommended.â€ You can pay anything you like.
Donâ€™t fall for the midtown â€œdelicatessenâ€ restaurants (like Carnegie Deli or Stage Deli). The food is fine, but itâ€™s just too packed with tourists and way too expensive (a pastrami sandwich can cost about $20!). We recommend the much more reasonable (and popular with locals) Katz Delicatessen in the Lower East Side.
If youâ€™re flexible about your theater plans, buy same-day half-priced tickets at the TKTS booth at Times Square. If you want to book your show in advance, at least find a discount code from BroadwayBox.com or BroadwayOffers.com. (Discounts are available for most shows.)
10) Any questions youâ€™d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?
Well, you didnâ€™t ask the one question on everyoneâ€™s mind in the United States:
Is this a good time for Americans to travel abroad?
The answer, as you know, is a resounding â€œyes!â€ Despite a shaky economy and uncertainty, the dollar is stronger than itâ€™s been for years and many hotels are lowering their rates to attract tourists. Itâ€™s a great time to travel, and not just for those of us States-side, but for everyone.
Thanks for the interview! Itâ€™s been a pleasure.
The EuroCheapo Team
Thank you Tom. Now I’m very curious which hotel in Les Beaux de Provence you were referring to. In addition I would have liked to pinch your brain for more inside info on Berlin, understanding that you have lived there some time. Finally: What is you Dutch connection with your very Dutch family name?