When my friend and I spontaneously booked our trip to the Île de Beauté, lured by rock-bottom ferry prices, we quickly skimmed the Corsica chapter in my budget guidebook. It said something along the lines of “the only budget option in Corsica is camping.” Still on the high that comes from plunking down your credit card for vacation, we were enthusiastic about a rugged adventure.
About three days before our departure, Nevin and I realized that not only did we not own any camping material (although some coworkers had generously offered to let us borrow some), we had no idea how to camp. We both come from families that are more four-star than sleeping under the stars, so our camping experience ranged from absolutely none to not in the last 10 years.
And so we began a frantic search for a place to stay in Corsica. Did I mention that July is high season? The one hostel on the entire island was full, and there was absolutely nothing available in Ile Rousse. The only hotels left in Calvi were three star and above—and none had two nights availability. After flirting with the idea of clubbing all night and sleeping on the beach all day, we finally found a place to lay our heads.
As we exited the train station in Calvi, we wondered how exactly we would go about finding our first night’s accommodation–Le Grand Hôtel. And then we looked up—it was right in front of us! It scored instant points for being easy to find, and less than a two-minute walk from the train station.
Our room with two double beds faced a quiet courtyard. It was clean, simple and—most importantly—air-conditioned! The bathroom was spacious, but it was a hand-held shower with absolutely no shower curtain. I’ve yet to figure out how Europeans manage to shower without getting water all over the place with a set-up like that. The secret gem of the hotel? The panoramic view of Calvi from the restaurant on the top floor: they offer a reasonably priced breakfast, as well as drinks and dinner.
The next night we headed over to Hotel Balanea. While Le Grand Hôtel was a few minutes walk from the center of town, Hotel Balanea was right in the heart of the main shopping and dining street in Calvi and overlooked the port. The location couldn’t have been better! Our room was a bit strangely decorated, but the awesomely modern bathroom more than made up for it. This was my first time since April having a proper shower, with a showerhead that could be affixed to the wall!
I honestly think the highlight of both hotels was the air-conditioning. Nevin and I agreed that it was the best nights’ sleep that we’d had in months, particularly after the recent heat wave in Nice that had me waking up drenched in sweat several times a night. Completely worth going a bit over budget! Speaking of budget, we spent 103 Euros at Le Grand Hotel and 100 Euros at Hotel Balanea. Compared to many other top vacation destinations, 50 Euros a night each for the level of accommodations we had really is quite a bargain.
Does anyone else have any hotel/hostel/camping recommendations for Corsica?