The World’s Best Bang-For-Your-Buck Hotels
Sometimes, the best hotels aren’t the most lavish or the cheapest—they're just the ones that give you the best value for money. We scouted 8 stays that, though they may run the gamut from simple to over-the-top decadent, all have one thing in common: they leave guests feeling that they scored the deal of a lifetime.
Arlo Hotel, New York, NY
This 325-room micro-hotel in Hudson Square opened in an enviable location near SoHo with the kind of high-design chic that usually comes at a much higher price point. Amenities are locally sourced, from the Blind Barber bath products to JOE coffee and snacks like jerky, taffy, and popcorn that come from indie producers. Room space is at a premium (that’s where the term “micro” comes in) but the hotel compensates with plenty of public hangouts including the Library, a co-working alcove that transforms at night into a hot spot complete with cocktails, board games, and movies. Even more extras: free (and ultra-fast) WiFi and complimentary classes with trainers from the Dogpound, a gym that trains Victoria’s Secret models.
SLS Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas hotels run the gamut from fleabag to fabulous, but the profusions of extra fees and bland décor can mean that even some deals don’t quite feel worth it. The outlier: the Philippe Starck–designed SLS, which embraces the kind of contemporary whimsy you’d expect from a much pricier place (think modern chandeliers and cheeky mirrors on the ceilings). If you’re a true bargain-hunter, stop by the nightly happy hour at the hotel’s sushi bar, Katsuya, or take the money you saved on your room and splurge on foie gras cotton candy at über-trendy José Andrés steakhouse Bazaar Meat.
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Royal Hideaway Playacar, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Oftentimes, all-inclusive resorts can be a disappointment—mediocre food, second-rate rooms, lackadaisical service—but the Royal Hideaway Playacar, a 200-room resort on the white sands of Playa del Carmen, is a luxurious spin on the theme. Instead of buffets, there are six restaurants (including Japanese-fusion at Azia and dishes like osso bucco with house-made pasta at the Italian-inspired Palazzo). Instead of a giant pool filled with noisy children, there are six pools—and the whole resort is adults-only. And, instead of gin and tonics made with bottom-shelf liquor, there are craft cocktails and an on-site tequileria, featuring artisanal Mexican brands you can’t get outside the country. Did we mention the unlimited guacamole?
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Hotel Milu, Florence, Italy
In October, Florence welcomes the 22-room Hotel Milu, whose structure dates back to the 15th century but whose design (from studioDO and architect David Ohayon) is very now: rooms are stylish and colorful, with furniture from Italian brands like MDF Italia, Molteni, and Moroso and terraces that overlook Via de Tornabuoni, a location in the heart of the city’s upscale fashion district that alone is worth the price of admission. The hotel’s international art collection overseen by curator Carmel Ilan and the intimate local knowledge of staff, who can recommend everything from aged cheese tastings to designer sample shows to indie rock gigs, mean that guests here will quickly feel like locals rather than tourists.
ACME Hotel Company Chicago, IL
Hotels in Chicago are rarely a bargain, but the tech-forward ACME matches a good downtown location (just three blocks from the Miracle Mile) with sprightly modern décor. Rooms aren’t enormous, but the look is funky (think giant hand and lip prints on the walls), the tech-y amenities are lightyears ahead of most American hotels, and staff go the extra mile—including delivering a thermos of coffee to your door each morning. Borrow an Apple Watch or Google Glass for the day (free if you book through the website), or ask about their complimentary portable WiFi hotspots. The elimination of roaming charges makes this a steal for international guests.
Hotel Giraffe, New York, NY
For those traveling with kids, tiny rooms just don’t cut it. Enter Hotel Giraffe, a family-friendly stay that straddles the line between Midtown and downtown New York. Rooms are fairly standard—beige walls, brown leather headboards—but it’s the size of the suites that makes this place a find. They start at 385 square feet, with ten-foot ceilings, king-sized beds, and pull-out sofas in the living room that can easily fit four. Included in the price: snacks and coffee provided all day (good for keeping everyone’s blood sugar levels up while sightseeing), breakfast and nightly wine and cheese receptions (with plenty of veggies and cookies for the kids), and complimentary access to any New York Sports Club gym.
Four Seasons at the Bosphorus, Istanbul, Turkey
The luxury of this hotel, combined with its surprisingly low rate, might make you feel like you’ve gotten away with something you shouldn’t have. It has all the amenities one expects at a Four Seasons—the pool, the spa, the service—but the jaw-droppingly beautiful building, a converted Ottoman palace edging the Bosphorus Strait, makes any stay a transformative experience. The hotel’s stellar location is a big part of what makes this a bargain, so be sure to take advantage: admire the Bosphorus from your room (be sure to request one with a view), lounge by the riverside pool, sip a cocktail on the terrace, and hop aboard the hotel boat from its private dock and cruise down the river. Whatever you do, don't miss a Turkish bath in the on-site hammam.
Hotel Kutuma, Montreal
A boutique hotel with an African theme, Kutuma is the sort of under-the-radar place you'd learn about from a friend—and then return to year after year. It’s small and friendly but with the kind of attentive, detailed service found at a much more expensive option. The nine rooms and suites have kitchenettes, zebra and leopard print duvets, and custom wooden furniture, plus oversized bathrooms (some have Jacuzzi tubs), double sinks, and potted palm trees. The location—it's just a few minutes' walk from the Sherbrooke metro stop in the buzzy Plateau-Mont-Royal neighborhood and surrounded by some of the city’s best restaurants and bars—is hard to beat, especially at this price.
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