Luxury versus cost-effective hotels

Couple of tourists consulting a city guide and smartphone gps

Choosing to stay at a cost-efficient hotel has several advantages (Photo Courtesy Choice Hotels). has teamed with Choice Hotels Canada to create a series of articles highlighting the best bargain hotel travel experiences in the country this winter and spring. 

Story by Rod Charles Deputy Editor

One of the most satisfying hotel experiences I ever had was in an economical hotel in Barcelona on thriving, bustling La Rambla. I can’t remember the name of the hotel – this was a while ago – but for $65 Euros ($96 CAD), it was clean, run by professionals and smack dab in the centre of all the action.

Many hotels on the street were more expensive and while a couple were quite impressive, I couldn’t understand the price point of several others. Except for the lack of shiny statues, waterfalls or marble walls in the lobby, the hotel I stayed at was just fine. Hotels are wonderful and can be an enjoyable part of the vacation experience but the idea that you have to blow a huge amount of money on a hotel in order to have a nice vacation simply isn’t true.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with luxury hotels and if spending $500 a night in a trendy boutique hotel is your thing – and you can afford it – then I couldn’t be happier for you. Some people like high-end luxury, some swear by hostels and cost-efficient hotels. Personally, I like to mix it up – a few nights in an economical hotel, a night or two in a higher end hotel (usually to finish my trip) and at least one night at a friend’s house during the trip. Wherever I stayed, my vacation was always what I made of it. There’s no right or wrong. It’s your adventure to be enjoyed how you want to enjoy it.

Comfort Hotel Bayer's Lake

Comfort Hotel Bayer’s Lake in Halifax offers several amenities, including free hot buffet breakfast (Photos Courtesy Choice Hotels).

Choice Hotels Canada offers outstanding amenities but their focus remains always on giving the visitor a wonderful experience at an affordable price.

“At our hotels, we want our guests to feel welcome, wanted and respected – it’s not only about the amenities, it’s also about the experience,” says Vicky Rivers, travel expert at Choice Hotels Canada. “Whether guests are travelling for pleasure or for business, we provide a rich experience for a reasonable price.”

Choosing to stay at a cost-efficient hotel has several advantages:

1. Money Saved: Money isn’t everything but depending on your budget it may matter a lot. Sometimes all you need is a safe, clean place to lay your head during your trip, whether you’re in town for pleasure or business. Focusing on affordable quality isn’t a bad way to go.

2. More Money For The Destination: As I’ve stated above, one of the best perks of staying at a Choice hotel is the fact more money remains in your pocket so that you can enjoy the destination. Personally, I like the idea of most of my travel budget going to restaurants, attractions, natural wonders, nightlife, souvenirs and gifts – rather than a hotel room.

For most people the hotel isn’t the primary reason why you travel. You travel to see outstanding city sites and sounds, enjoy scenery, check out attractions, or do business. Cost-efficient hotels are a great way to get close to the venues, events and attractions you want to see and come back to a comfortable hotel room when the evening is complete.

3. Comparable Amenities: That being said, I’ve found in my experience that economical hotels usually have all the amenities I need to have a wonderful vacation, and in some cases are on par with more expensive hotels. Depending on the hotel, it may have a pool, offer breakfast or provide free WIFI. Just because you’re in a cost-effective hotel doesn’t mean it doesn’t offer a relaxing home-away-from-home experience.

4. Location, Location: One common misconception is that you always have to pay to stay close to where you want to be. While this is often true, it is possible to find economical hotels in great locations that are not far from the action. For example, Comfort Inn & Suites – Hotel Mont-Tremblant (860 rue LaLonde, Mont-Tremblant, QC) is situated right in the old town of Mont Tremblant, but is only a short 13 kilometre drive to the slopes. Amenities include free continental breakfast, a year-round outdoor heated pool and outdoor sundeck, as well as an indoor heated pool and hot tub. A shuttle is available to the slopes, which works out to $6 return per person.

5. Meet People: The best reason for enjoying an economical hotel? It’s easier and more likely you’re going to meet friendly, interesting people who are of the same mindset. Not that I have haven’t met awesome people in higher end hotels – I have – but I’ve made wonderful friends in budget hotels over the years simply by having breakfast.

Rod has previously worked for and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.

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