With the growing consensus that Airbnb isn’t worth its cost these days, you’re probably back to booking hotels as the top choice for your upcoming travel this summer. And if you can afford it, you might automatically assume it’s better to opt for the most luxurious accommodations within your budget. But does a higher price tag really lead to a higher quality experience? (And with room service getting axed in many hotels across the country, what even counts as luxury anymore?)
When you’re budgeting in your pre-travel spreadsheet, your lodging situation shouldn’t be based solely on the numbers you can technically afford. Instead, it’s important to factor in where you’re going, who you’re with, and your travel priorities at your particular destination. The sacrifices in luxury amenities might be well worth the money allocated to other parts of your travel. Here’s what you should consider before you book your next stay.
Is a luxury hotel worth the cost?
When luxury accommodations are several hundred dollars more expensive than budget-friendly options, it’s worth it to take a second and break down what exactly you’re paying for. The difference in cost may not accurately reflect the difference in experience.
Personally, one aspect of “luxury” that is usually worth the price tag is cleanliness. However, a greater room cost doesn’t necessarily lead to a higher standard of cleanliness. A small 2016 study from TravelMath goes a step further and found that budget-friendly hotels are just as clean as or cleaner than five-star lodging.
Then again, if you can afford the few extra hundred dollars, the reasons to splurge on luxury lodging are fairly obvious. You’ll be paying for a greater sense of security, convenience of location, and all the tangible amenities and intangible atmosphere that makes something “luxury.” What your decision comes down to, then, is how high of a priority that “luxury” really is for your travels. Read on to reconsider the benefits of budget-friendly hotels in other areas of your stay.
How much time will you actually spend in the room?
In addition to room costs, budget hotels lead to more savings in other areas of your travel. Think about it: How much time do you really spend in your hotel? What if the money you spent on your sleeping situation could be reallocated to a fancy meal, an extra day trip, or a beautiful souvenir?
Our tip is to look into your daily itineraries for your travel before you book your hotel. Consider whether your hotel is integral to your experience, or really just a place to shower and sleep. For trips where you’re out and about all day every day, it might make more sense to save money on lodging.
Which one offers more flexibility?
Whether due to an emergency, delayed flights, or a desire to keep the vacation going, your travel dates could change. It’s typically going to be easier to extend your stay in budget-friendly hotels, in terms of room availability, as well as your wallet.
Might you actually be happier in a budget-friendly hotel?
If you’re one of those people where the hotel essentially is the destination—totally valid!—then indulge away. But as The Points Guy argues, cheaper hotels come with one of the greatest intangible perks of all: managed expectations. Where a luxury stay might overwhelm you with the need to get your money’s worth on every little offering, a budget-friendly hotel has the potential to pleasantly surprise you again and again during your stay.
Plus, if you’re traveling alone and want to meet people, budget-friendly spaces are a much better bet than the privacy and quiet that people are paying for in luxury hotels.