Thursday, September 23, 2010

Three reasons I prefer cheaper hotels

I don't travel so much these days, but I used to get around quite a bit and still make the occasional foray.

Yes, I prefer cheaper hotels. Not necessarily the cheaper the better (there's a point below getting what you pay for makes for an unenjoyable stay), but definitely in the $70-$100 per night range, possibly as low as $50 if you take a stab at bidding through Priceline or whatever.

Three reasons:

1) It should be obvious: Cheaper rooms don't cost as much. All other things being equal, I'd rather pay $75 than $150 for a night in a hotel room. But, frankly, all things usually aren't equal, which brings me to the other two reasons.

2) Nearly every time I get roped into staying at a "luxury" hotel, my jaw drops when I walk into the room and realize that it's half the size of, and less attractively furnished than, something I'd get at Quality or Drury. The "luxury" beds are seldom as firm, or the linens or bathrooms as modern or as clean.

3) The "cheaper" hotel usually includes a lot of extras in the price that the "luxury" hotel charges for.

Any decent "cheaper" hotel will have "free" breakfast. It may be "continental" -- donuts and cereal -- or it may be a full hot buffet, or something in between (I like the "continental plus" that the Quality chain runs, which is the usual cold fare plus "make your own waffles"). Expect to blow $10-$15 for runny eggs and an English muffin at the "luxury" hotel's restaurant. And God help you if you get stuck in the bar, where every beer means thinking about taking out a second mortgage.

And of course what got me going on this little rant was a piece I ran across in USA Today about how "luxury" hotels are starting to "discount" Internet access.

Yes, discount. After popping you $150 a night for a linen closet they remodeled and labeled "suite," they want you to pay extra for the privilege of checking your email over their Wi-Fi setup.

Needless to say, any decent "cheaper" hotel has "FREE HIGH-SPEED INTERNET" featured prominently on the marquee out front. Or did, anyway, until it became so common that only the highbrow places still think they can get away with charging for Internet.

That the "luxury" hotel still exists as a class of lodging is, in my opinion, proof positive that there are indeed people with more money than sense.

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