10 Questions For (23): Tom Meyers of EuroCheapo.com

Happy to present a community and team builder: Tom Meyers (@Budtravel?), brother of @Pete Meyers, of EuroCheapo.com.

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Tom Meyers in Paris

1) Who are you?
I’m Tom Meyers, the founder and editor of EuroCheapo.com, a guide to budget travel in Europe. I’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 don’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 “grown up” 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 (“where to celebrate Thanksgiving in Europe”), and do “on the road” reporting (our “Wandering Cheapos” series allows us to post while working abroad).

5) Your top 3 destination experiences you’ve ever stayed to date and why?
A bike trip in the south of France – 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 – because it was just so different from any of my European travels. It blew my mind.

St. Petersburg and Riga – I spent two weeks in these cities in January 2009. It wasn’t “fun,” but it was immensely interesting and very educational.

6) Your top 3 accommodations you’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 “Grand Hotel” just north of Ajaccio—and I don’t even remember its name!

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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, desserts… happiness.

During that bike trip through Provence, in Baux les Romains, our “monastery” offered dinner, with only local ingredients. I remember a steak au poivre, cheese platter, bottle of Cote de Provence, and my bed.

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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 “opened the stomach”) and we all pushed on…

8) Your 3 worst destination/accommodation/food experiences to date an why?
Reviewing Venice hotels in December 2001 was pretty depressing. It’s already hard being a single guy in your 20s in Venice, much less in December when it’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 café car, and had to scream for ages to get anyone’s attention.

As someone who tries to find “food deals,” I’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 city’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?
Don’t pay full-price for admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art! Their entrance fee of $20 for adults is only “recommended.” You can pay anything you like.

Don’t fall for the midtown “delicatessen” restaurants (like Carnegie Deli or Stage Deli). The food is fine, but it’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 you’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 you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?
Well, you didn’t ask the one question on everyone’s mind in the United States:

Is this a good time for Americans to travel abroad?

The answer, as you know, is a resounding “yes!” Despite a shaky economy and uncertainty, the dollar is stronger than it’s been for years and many hotels are lowering their rates to attract tourists. It’s a great time to travel, and not just for those of us States-side, but for everyone.

Thanks for the interview! It’s been a pleasure.

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The EuroCheapo Team

My observations:
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?

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2 Responses to 10 Questions For (23): Tom Meyers of EuroCheapo.com

  1. Hi Happy Hotelier–Thanks so much for the interview!

    First off, a correction: I’ve just been informed by my biking partner that I got my towns confused. The amazing hotel was, in fact, “Le Beffroi” in Vaison-la-Romaine, not Les Beaux de Provence. Check out their site: http://www.le-beffroi.com/

    We had cycled to the top of Les Beaux de Provence, took in the view, ate some ice cream, and then blasted out of there. (If was gorgeous, but crammed full of tourists.) We found Vaison-la-Romaine charming, less-touristy, and full of Roman ruins (which was the theme of our bike ride).

    Regarding Berlin: Yes, ask away! The city has changed quite a bit since I lived in Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg in 2001. However, it remains one of the most budget-friendly destinations in Europe, and a Mecca for art, nightlife, history, and more. I go back as often as I can.

    Finally, regarding the origins of the “Meyers” name: We do, indeed, have a Dutch connection. Our great-great-great grandfather Meyers came from a small village in the Netherlands. I’ll have to get back to you with the name! After screwing up “Vaison-la-Romaine,” I’m going to fact-check my towns first!

    All the best,
    Tom

    ps. the @Budtravel link in the intro is actually Sean O’Neill of BudgetTravel.com!

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