|Standard U.S. hotel room|
Vacation. Does that make you think cramped hotel room? Lots of dinners in restaurants? Kids, toys, clothes and junk everywhere? While the “traditional” hotel vacation is still widely used, there are so many other options out there.
When considering vacation lodging, the first thought that might come to mind is “hotel.” In Europe, travelers spent an impressive, record-setting 1.6 billion nights in hotels in 2011. The cost of one night in a hotel in the U.S. averages between $90-$150, higher in major cities like New York and Los Angeles. Obviously, accommodation expenses dramatically affect a vacation budget.
- how many people are traveling?
- how much time will you spend in the hotel room? (just for sleeping or will you relax there too)
- do you plan to eat all your meals in restaurants? (particularly important for families with young children or large groups)
- does anyone have special needs? (little kids who need naps or elderly relatives who need some privacy to relax)
Lots of lodging options!
There are so many different vacation lodging options out there that you shouldn’t have to settle. To make your decision making easier, we’ve got the pros and cons for major lodging choices out there.
- Easy booking through the internet, by phone or walk-in
- Discounts easily obtained through travel sites like kayak.com, priceline.com, hotwire.com and expedia.com (others are available as well)
- Reward programs (such as Hilton Honors and Marriott Rewards)
- Predictable accommodations, especially within a chain (though not always. See below)
- Customer satisfaction is often guaranteed (A hotel recently refunded the cost of our overnight stay because the shower rod was loose and the curtain would not stay closed.)
- Amenities: daily maid service, free wifi (often), workout equipment, pools, free breakfast (varies by hotel and location)
- Space is limited
- No kitchen (most hotel chains)
- “Sterile” (Hotel chains tend to offer the same basic furniture. You don’t experience the culture of the location)
- Can be expensive (Especially in Europe and Asia where rooms are small. A family of four would need to book two hotel rooms or pay a premium for a larger suite)
- Inconsistency within a chain (The quality of accommodations and service is impacted by local management)
- Less expensive than hotels
- Adventure is included: hiking, swimming, and biking are readily available. Some state and national parks offer horse-back riding, fishing and more
- Quieter than a hotel (generally)
- Great for groups
- More rustic
- Off the beaten path (though this is sometimes an advantage!)
- Fewer restaurant options
- A bit harder to research
- Limited accommodations available, so plan in advance
On our trip to Paris, France, the cost for two hotel rooms (approximately 300 square feet total) per night would have been $350-$600 US, for a “two star hotel.” For seven nights, the cost would have been a minimum of $2,450, not cheap! Instead, we booked an apartment (living room, dining room, kitchen, split bath, two bedrooms and free laundry) in a neighborhood near the Eiffel Tower and paid only $1050 for the entire stay. We enjoyed leisurely coffee and breakfast in the morning, late evening snacks at home and carried less luggage since laundry was on site. AND, we got to experience life the way Parisians do rather than be set apart in a touristy area.
- More space, including kitchen, living area, sleeping quarters
- Unique accommodations (of course, this might be a disadvantage for some)
- Neighborhood setting where you can experience what it’s like to really live in that place
- Less expensive than hotels
- Save on food by preparing some meals at “home”
- Unique accommodations (no two “homes” are the same)
- Researching apartments takes time
- No travel rewards program for free stays
- Some require that you bring your own linens, bath soap/shampoo, etc.
- Breakfast is included
- Unique accommodations
- Off the beaten path (and some are available in big cities as well)
- Personalized attention
- Inconsistent quality (some are better than others)
- No travel reward program for free stays
- Some research is required to make sure you understand what you’re getting for the price
- Not all offer private bathrooms
- Not necessarily less expensive than a hotel