The high-low approach to hotels.

I’m all about the high-low mix. I love pairing thrift-store finds with statement pieces, decorating with a blend of garage-sale treasures and saved-for furniture, and shopping on Craigslist one day, Neiman Marcus the next. Life’s more interesting that way, don’t you think?

I like to use this approach with hotels as well. There are some amazing places where you can’t stay on points.

I’m in the process of planning a 31-night family vacation for this summer, and so far I’ve found numerous spots that offer incredible value in terms of saving cash, as well as piling on cool experiences. I wrote about one of these places yesterday, the UHostel in Madrid. For 25 Euros per person/per night (around $35), you can stay in a room like this:

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If you are traveling as a family, you can stay in one of their family rooms for 22 Euros ($30) per person/per night:

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I’ve also found some really cool-looking places in Japan such as the Oil Street Guest House in Kyoto (20,000 Yen per night – around $190)…

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…and the Pongyi Guest House in Kanazawa (2,700 Yen per person/per night – around $25!)

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Honestly, although we are staying at some incredible five-star hotels during this trip, I think I might be looking forward to these local cheapies more. I know from past experience that places like this are rich with character, or at least stocked with great storytelling material.

What is your preference? Do you mix high and low – or do you stick to one sort?



  1. Marilyn B says:

    Been traveling twice a year for 30 or so years, and collecting miles (slowly) since the mid-80s. Mostly trips to Europe (my favorites) and in the past dozen years a lot of cruises (husband’s favorites). I do much with hotel programs until a few years ago, so as budget conscious travelers, we stayed in lots of local hotels, both small and mid-sized. In a few bigger cities, I used my corporate rate for chain hotels if the rate was good. Based on the amount of time we spend in a hotel (shower, breakfast, leave, return after dinner to sleep), what matters most is a clean, reasonably comfortable room with a decent shower and the hotel needs to be well located. For us it’s more about the destination than the hotel room. As gorgeous as the Waldorf Astoria Cavalieri in Rome probably is, the location and inconvenience wouldn’t suit me at all.

    In the early days of our travels, we loved the unique local flavor of these local hotels, even with quirks and all. We’ve stayed in an old chateau in France (since renovated into some 5 star hotel), on Mont St. Michel, on the grounds of Chambord, in paradors in Spain, B&Bs in the Cotswolds, a Venetian hotel used in a Katherine Hepburn movie, and in a small hotel built into the wall of Diocletian’s palace in Split. While not all were memorable, some truly were special. Although we can now appreciate the chain properties, a suite would be lost on us since we’d hardly be in it. And we do feel like we are missing the local character. One big plus of local hotels is that the rates usually include breakfast – at least in Europe – and sometimes it’s a big buffet. The biggest bummer of a chain hotel where you aren’t top elite is the price of breakfast for 2. We will be in Brussels and Amsterdam this April, staying free at Radisson Blu hotels for 8 nights, and the price of breakfast is unreal. So far haven’t found close local options in Amsterdam that open early. Fingers crossed. So, sometimes a reasonably priced local hotel with breakfast can be the best, and more memorable, value.

    Have a wonderful trip. Looking forward to your trip reports.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Marilyn – Your travel style sounds rich and full. I would love to stay on Mont St. Michel!

      Agree that with this kind of travel, it’s not about the room…it’s about what’s outside.

      Thanks for your detailed comment – reading comments like yours is one reason I keep writing this blog.

  2. these look intriguing actually…. when you stay as a family of 4, do you have the whole room to yourself? I think I’m still a VRBO/Airbnb fan, I really like the whole home/kitchen-own cooking experiences but I am interested to learn more about these high end hostels! how do the bathrooms work?

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