Beyond the Cities
Bulgaria has plenty of accommodation options, ranging from luxury accommodation in cities to hostels and rural guesthouses in the countryside. Bulgaria is a surprisingly beautiful country and it is recommended that you get outside of Sofia and Plovdiv and venture into some small towns so that you can experience the rural countryside. Coastal communities also have no shortage of accommodation facilities. You are unlikely to have any difficulty finding accommodation in most places around Bulgaria, but you should be conscientious about the quality of the facilities. While most are reliable and comfortable, you don't want to be unpleasantly surprised with your selection. Read some reviews and understand the location of the hostel or hotel you are selecting.
Finding the Best Prices
There are many great options for budget travelers in Bulgaria. In Sofia, there are many affordable hostels that are clean, comfortable and cheap. Booking in advance will ensure that you have the space you desire, as many options do fill up, particularly in the peak season. If you're heading to the smaller towns, you will likely be greeted by local women at the train or bus stop. They'll have pictures of rooms in their home that are available for rent. You can usually get some great deals, but do negotiate. Also be sure and ask where the home is before you hop in a car. Ask them to point out the location on the map so you understand where you're headed before you leave with them. Usually the quality is quite good and this option is very safe. It also gives you a very authentic experience and allows you to stay in the home of a local resident which can be a lot of fun.
Types of Accommodation
Bulgaria has most types of accommodation, particular in Sofia. You'll find hostels, guesthouses, and hotels of all levels. In rural areas the most interesting option is to stay with a local and rent a room. You'll likely share a bathroom and have a basic room, but it's a great way to see how families live and you'll likely have the opportunity to interact and chat with them for a while. It will definitely give you a unique perspective on life in Bulgaria.
Another interesting option is to stay in a monastery. There are about a dozen monasteries sprinkled throughout the country that offer accommodation to travelers. Bulgaria is also well known for its ecotourism options for budget travelers. These facilities are most common in the rural small towns in the mountains or along the shore. They offer a very pleasant experience as well.
There are plenty of good hostels to choose from in Sofia. Many up opening up regularly so it's not hard to find a new place with modern and new furnishings. Many hostels have a great atmosphere and interesting character. They almost always have a lounge area where you can relax with other guests. There's usually a kitchen attached where you can prepare yourself some home cooked food. Breakfast is often included in the price of the bed as well.
If you're looking for a mid-range option there are some decent international chain hotels around the city. Some of the more famous options include the Holiday Inn. There are also bed and breakfasts, a few small guesthouses, and some boutique style hotels available. Many are in close proximity to downtown so you can easily walk to some of the most popular attractions.
If you're looking for something more luxurious there is a great selection as well. The Sheraton is a popular option but some other famous choices include Maria Luisa Hotel which is in a beautiful building, and Park Inn Hotel Sofia, which looks like a beautiful baroque castle.
There is a decent selection of hotels in Varna. They range from two star options to five stars. You'll find many of the most famous resorts stretched out along the twenty mile stretch of beach just north of the city. Some of the more popular options include Constatine and Helena, Euxinograd, Sunny Day, Riviera, Chaika, and Golden Stands. There are many different hotels to choose from and there are a few villa communities that also provide private lodging options.
There are some good budget hostels available, some of which are only a short walk from the beach. Many offer fun activities for guests including pub crawls, social nights, bike tours and excursions.
Mid-range options are typically small hotels, some of which are quite close to the beach. Others are closer to town. The prices are reasonable but it is recommended that you make reservations in advance, particularly if you are traveling during the peak season.
While there are plenty of large, chain style hotels and resorts around Varna, you'll have a more interesting experience if you decide to stay in a smaller, family run option. You have to search a little harder to find these options as some are not listed on the major hotel booking websites. Still, the experience will be much more enjoyable if you know you've found somewhere unique to stay. It's worth the effort to seek out something a little more off the beaten path. Your holiday will be all the more unique and memorable if you think outside of the box a little bit. These family owned options are available for every price range. Budget options are plentiful, but so are higher end, more luxurious places. Each is more individualized and you'll feel like you're staying somewhere uniquely special if you avoid some of the more popular chain hotels.