7 clever travel hacks for finding 5* hotels at affordable prices

Live lavish for less

Tropical beach with palm trees, white sand and turquoise sea
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Thanks to Instagram, we all want to holiday like a travel influencer. We’re looking for tranquil stretches of empty beach, impeccably-presented meals and deluxe 5* hotels.

But sadly, we don’t always have the funds to support such lavish trips, especially post Covid-19. 

Luckily, there is a way to make luxury accommodation more affordable. Skyscanner has pulled together a few hacks to help you bed down in style…

 1. Scan the internet for ‘soft openings’ 

When hotels throw open their doors for the first time, they often have a few creases to iron out. The swimming pool might not be ready, the hotel might not have its alcohol licence or the service might be a bit iffy while new staff learn the ropes. The upside of this is much lower room rates – but only for a limited time. The big chains such as Anantara, Hilton and Alila Hotels & Resorts are always opening new hotels, so make sure you sign up to their mailing lists for special offers.  

 2. Try an alternative destination 

To get more bang for your hotel buck, try a less fashionable destination. As in any business, the price of a 5* hotel room follows the laws of supply and demand, so if you choose Montenegro instead of the Côte d’Azur, or Trieste instead of Venice, you’ll get a better deal. 

Dreaming of a Californian road trip? For equally amazing coastal highway views, why not try Cape Cod instead? Following destination trends won’t always give you the best holiday, so think outside the box.  

Adirondack chairs on sand dunes, Nantucket Island Massachusetts USA

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. Travel off-season 

Sometimes you can enjoy 5* pampering for half the cost if you go ‘off-season’. The destination will be less crowded and more relaxed, too. For example, Switzerland in summer. You might not be able to ski, but you can mountain bike, hike, have a picnic next to a waterfall and relax in some stellar spas. 

The price differences speak for themselves. 

4. Eat out 

Steer clear of the hotel’s restaurant (and room service) and you’ll make the final bill more manageable. Instead, research the neighbourhood before you arrive and make a hit-list of more affordable restaurants and cafés – especially ones that are popular with locals. 

For example, the glittering Four Seasons George V, in Paris, is home to Le Cinq, one of the city’s best restaurants. It’s a place of pilgrimage for foodies, but its foie gras starter will set you back some  €€€. Meanwhile, up the road at the Relais d’Entrecote – a traditional bistro with Parisian-red awnings – starters can be had for as little as €6.50. And if you want the luxury that comes from being served by George V’s beautifully-trained staff, why not treat yourself to a soft drink in the hotel’s La Galerie lounge? It’s the beating heart of the hotel. 

5. Make the most of the freebies 

5* hotels aren’t just for sleeping. You want to soak up as much of the atmosphere/service/facilities as possible without spending extra, and one of the surest ways to do this is to head to the spa. There’s no need to book an expensive treatment, just wander down in your hotel slippers and enjoy a swim or a spell in the steam room – it won’t cost you a penny. 

Make the most of the unlimited mineral water, dried fruit and fashion magazines in the relaxation areas too – and before you leave, slather on some of the free lotions and potions. 

6. Pivot to a different type of hotel 

If it’s ultra-chic design details that turn you on, you needn’t splash out on a 5* hotel. Hipster chains such as Sister City, Mama Shelter and Roam provide dapper digs full of inspiring touches – especially in their buzzing public areas. It’s also worth bearing in mind that some flashy hotels have smaller satellite hotels nearby at more affordable prices. 

For example, just across the road from the all-singing all-dancing Hotel Faena, in Miami, sits Casa Faena - Hotel Faena’s little sister. Casa Faena has an arty Cuban-style feel and 13 beautiful rooms that are far more affordable. Finally, don’t overlook the odd luxury B&B – especially if it’s the quality of the bedroom that matters most. Sometimes, they’re more pampering than a five-star suite. 

@thewebster came by Roam Miami to shoot Valentino. Photography by @riocam Roam

A photo posted by @roamcoliving on Nov 29, 2017 at 1:21pm PST

7. Fill the minibar with your own treats 

One of the best things about staying in a 5* hotel is lounging around your room in a dressing gown à la Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. But indulging in snacks from the mini-bar will send your bill skyrocketing. Instead, clear some space in the fridge and store your own shop-bought drinks and snacks. That way, you can enjoy a lavish night in with nothing extra to pay. 

Bear in mind that some hotels use weighted fridges, which take note if you remove items. So tell reception what you’re going to do, and put the mini-bar items back afterwards. Then check the bill to make sure you haven’t been charged.

Sagal Mohammed

Sagal is a journalist, specialising in lifestyle, pop culture, fashion and beauty.  She has written for a number of publications including Vogue, Glamour, Stylist, Evening Standard, Bustle, You Magazine, Dazed and Wonderland to name a few.