Cheap-skate business travel

I hate waste – food, money, time – it all drives me nuts.

In the last month or so I have taken two trips to work in Auckland. Typically my colleagues stay in a serviced apartment, but the choice is ours, as long as we stay within a reasonable budget. As an experiment, I decided last time I was in Auckland, to see what I could get for under $NZ50 a night (its around 3 times this for a serviced apartment).

Checking reviews online at Tripadvisor, I found the Auckland YMCA Hostel. For $42/night I could get a single room or “cell” as I now affectionately call it.

Great ratings and my first impression was “spotless”. As I’ve said before, I don’t need fancy facilities, wide screen TVs and room service. I liked it so much, I chose to return last week for a another trip. I even had a view of the Harbour Bridge.  Staying for 7 nights or more, you get a further discounted rate!

The funny thing is, the comments from some of my colleagues “you don’t have to stay there“, “Ewwwww, the Y” and “I’m sure we can put you somewhere better”.  Some were more open minded and I’m hoping someone else at least gives its a try.

I confess I was a little disappointed initially that there were no cowboys, indians, constructions workers and firemen but you can’t win them all. 🙂

I have stayed in a lot worse places for work and paid a lot more! Its clean, its warm. Sure, I have to share the bathroom facilities, but I have never had to wait and its spotless. Its bustling with activity – people playing pool and watching TV in the reception. A massive bookcase to swap a book. Movie nights and other activities are organised. No children running up and down the corridors! Even a security guard after hours to ensure everything is ok.

Not to mention its a short walk to heaps of ethnic restaurants and right next to the 50 cent bus to get you to the other end of Queen St.

No fancy maid service, they empty the bin and do a quick vacuum. I’d be happy if they never came into my room at all. You need to keep your own room clean and if you want your sheets & towel washed, you have to either do it yourself or leave it out on the specified day.

I’m hoping to start a trend, or at least get some of my other colleagues to try it or find another location that suits them. Maybe I might succumb to trying their fancy serviced apartment some time but right now, I’m happy with the YMCA Hostel.

For dining, I’m not into fancy restaurants and Auckland is brimming with some pretty affordable ethnic foods. Most of my dinners are costing around $15 as I’m usually heading to one of the many foodcourts around the CBD – the pretty crappy looking “International Foodcourt” downstairs on Queen St, the hidden gem by the Asian supermarket on K Road (the Malaysian place has an amazing vegetarian menu), and the one by the Aotea Centre (where I’m currently sitting typing this).  You might like to read my post about vegetarian dining from last time I was in Auckland.

Business travel needn’t and shouldn’t be expensive. I’m not saying you have to eat toast and jam for each meal and sleep in a tent, but one of the main issues for most businesses is watching its bottom line. As a responsible employee, its surely my responsibility to keep my costs reasonable too?

I’m heading back to Dunedin for work in August and I’ll be on the look out to see what options are available there.  Dunedin has a large student population and should I hope have a number of great accommodation choices that don’t break the bank.  And at least I know from past experience that the dining options are wonderful!



  1. Well first of all, I was happy to hear that there is a Malaysian place serving good vegetarian food! There where I am from! On another note, I have never tried staying in YMCA or hostels, I might do it soon considering good reviews like yours. If I ever do, I will make sure I blog it.. 🙂

    • I’m increasingly a fan of the YMCA – I have stayed at the YMCA (or might have been the YWCA) in Singapore and also in Hong Kong – they were more basic hotel than hostel but couldn’t beat the locations for either of them. Definitely worth checking out.

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