7 wallet-friendly luxury hotels for your next holiday
Bang for your buck
Mid-day sangrias, private pools, king-sized beds, and plush duvets – sounds like a dream holiday we all need often. This doesn't need to remain in the elusive realms of the unlikely future, according to Hotels.com's annual Hotel Price Index (HPI). For what would have previously fetched a hefty price tag, there are now more options to indulge in the luxurious comforts of five-star hotels in these seven emerging destinations — without breaking the bank.
1. Istanbul, Turkey
Why you should visit now: Situated at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, Turkey overflows with a unique fusion of cultures that has been cemented into one. Home to some of the greatest ruins of the ancient empires, it is rich with cultural connections to the ancient Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Visit the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia for a taste of this fabled history, and the Grand Bazaar for a modern twist on traditional marketing at one of the largest bazaars in the world. An experience at a hamman, a unique Turkish bath, is also not to be missed — expect some full-body cleanse that will stretch you beyond your comfort zones in ways more welcoming than it sounds.
Best time to visit: Spring and autumn, from April to May and September to mid-November respectively, when temperatures are pleasant and skies are clear.
Average hotel prices: $157 per night.
Where to stay: Hilton Istanbul Kozyatagi, from $117 per room per night.
2. Vientiane, Laos
Why you should visit now: A perfect getaway from the noise of Singapore’s hustle and bustle, Vientiane offers a laidback atmosphere for those looking for a more idyllic vacation spot, sans the crowds. Take a day off at Laos’ most sacred monument, Patuxai Victory Monument and Wat Ho Phra Keo. Want a taste of some authenticity? Take up a culinary class with Lao Experiences, a local cooking school that offers market tours and street food tastings.
Best time to visit: November through to March, when the air is a little bit cooler.
Average hotel prices: $179 per night.
Where to stay: Crowne Plaza Vientiane, from $94 per room per night.
3. Zagreb, Croatia
Why you should visit now: A quaint European experience with a touch of medieval ambience, Zagreb offers an enticing alternative to the crowded European hotspots of Barcelona and Berlin. The quieter option does not offer the culture vultures any less — the Croatian Musuem of Naïve Art is a unique concept of celebrating the work of naïve artists of the 20th century, while the Museum of Broken Relationships offers contemporary indulgence into the grievances of failed love relationships.
Best time to visit: April and September, when the temperature is relatively warmer but still comfortable and cool due to spring rains.
Average hotel prices: $195 per night.
Where to stay: Hotel Esplanade Zagreb, from $177 per room per night.
4. Mandalay, Myanmar
Why you should visit now: A little closer to home is this geographically diverse emergent of Southeast Asia. It may have only had six years in the tourism scene, but Myanmar’s rich cultural heritage and lush greenery are enough to rival popular neighbouring tourist destinations. For a glimpse into its spiritual-centric beauty, visit the Yadana Labumuni Hsu-tuangpye Paya, also known as the snake pagoda, and marvel at the two large pythons wrapped around the Buddha statue within. Witness the power of these locally-dubbed semi-holy serpents – they draw generous offerings from the thousands of visitors every year.
Best time to visit: November to February, when the weather gets a bit cooler.
Average hotel prices: $197 for five-star accommodation.
Where to stay: Hilton Mandalay, from $142 per room per night.
5. Kathmandu, Nepal
Why you should visit now: There could be no better playground for the thrill-seekers than the queen of Mother Nature herself. Home to some of the most magnificent treks in the Himalayan Mountains, Nepal’ s enthralling tranquility attracts both trekkers and peace-seeking travellers alike. Back in the city exists an equally enticing world of cultural adventures to explore. Roam the streets and have a taste of popular local delights such as momos, dal bhat and aloo paratha. Alternatively, you foodies can also sign up for local cooking tours for a hand at making these prized delicacies.
Best time to visit: September to November, when autumn’s cool air makes it perfect for trekking and outdoor activities.
Average hotel prices: $209 per night.
Where to stay: Hotel Yak & Yeti, from $209 per room per night
6. Krakow, Poland
Why you should visit now: One of the oldest cities in Poland, Krakow brings a rustic European appeal drenched in medieval and Jewish history. An intricate mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture bear traces of the city’s World War II history, simultaneously featuring a juxtaposition of cabaret bars that celebrates both the past and present. Home to famous Polish dragon, Smok Wawleski, the Wawel Cathedral and Wawel Castle complex will indulge you wanderlusters in this legendary folklore.
Best time to visit: Spring from March to April and autumn in October.
Average hotel prices: $224 per night.
Where to stay: Niebieski Art Hotel & Spa, from $191 per room per night.
7. Malmo, Sweden
Why you should visit now: A city of cosmopolitan charm with a medieval core, Malmo is a picturesque landscape of city beaches lining its central parklands, ideal for the traveler seeking diverse outdoor adventures. Spend an afternoon at Folkets Park, the world’s oldest public city park before reveling in the warmth of a Swedish family-hosted dinner over at A Slice of Swedish Hospitality, a family-run business that gives you a glimpse into the life of a local over hearty Swedish delicacies. The best part? Malmo is perhaps the most cost-friendly Scandinavian town you might ever come across.
Best time to visit: October to March, to catch the captivating sights of glaciated mountaintops and highlands.
Average hotel prices: $234 per night.
Where to stay: Grand Hotel – Lund, from $161 per room per night.
For more information, visit Hotels.com.