Hotel rates in 2023 have reached eye-watering peaks: January 2023 prices, per one survey, were 54 percent higher stateside than the same period a year earlier while European prices in peak summer season were 13.4 percent higher than summer 2022. Among luxury hotels, it’s no longer uncommon for nightly rates to top $4,000 for a standard room—see Kisawa Sanctuary in Mozambique, for example, or Xigera safari lodge in Botswana.
Such skyrocketing prices can deter value-minded travelers from even considering a trip. But what if you could score a room with a four-figure price tag at three-star prices? Around the world, a few spots remain that offer such a perfect compromise—both affordable yet indulgent.
We’ve uncovered the best examples, tapping travel insiders to share their recommendations of places that deliver thousand-buck experiences—of different, very specific kinds—for $300 or so per night.
Here are eight noteworthy spots ideal for any traveler with champagne tastes on a beer budget.
Thanks to splashy new hotel openings like Son Net, and handy nonstop flights from United Airlines, this boho-glam European island is gaining in prominence. If you want to mingle with the fashpack, consider Ca’s Xorc, a onetime olive mill, all stone walls and heavy wooden beams in the hills between the charming twin towns of Sóller and Deia. (Claudia Schiffer hosted her 30th birthday at the hotel.)
“You can hike right out the door in all directions, and it’s a scenic oasis in the Tramuntana Mountains,” says Cari Gray of Gray & Co. Otherwise, loll on the shabby chic fixtures amid groves of orange and lemon trees, or dip in the pool if it’s too hot to move. From $225
InterContinental Khao Yai Resort
Bangkok-based interior designer Bill Bensley is synonymous with eclectic, idiosyncratic interiors with a maximalist exuberance—and, usually, a hefty price tag. Check into InterContinental Khao Yai Resort, a hotel inspired by classic train carriages, and you can experience his interiors far more affordably, says Alex Wix of travel and events specialists Wix Squared.
This property, on a 100-acre site about three hours by car from Bangkok in Thailand’s hills, is decorated in a nod to its 19th-century heyday when the elite of the capital escaped the summer heat with weekends in the cooler climes here. The story behind the style: A fictional train conductor built the hotel as a tribute to his favorite transport method, adding station sign boards and luggage racks and festooning the interior with locomotive-related doodads. From $256
A room at the new Vermelho Hotel from Christian Louboutin will likely cost less than a pair of his shoes (though its name, which means red in Portuguese, is a canny nod to his signature sole). The onetime fisherman’s home was converted into a 13-room boutique hotel filled with frescoes and azulejo tile work. It’s well-located in the artsy resort community of Melides, just south of Comporta in Portugal.
“It’s a sexy, sultry enclave brimming with privacy, style, and understated elegance,” says travel advisor John Clifford of International Travel Management. The property doesn’t skimp on amenities, even if the rates are rock bottom: There’s a spa, wellness center, outdoor pool, and Xtian, its on-site restaurant focusing on Portuguese cuisine. From $246
La Foresteria Planeta
Forget the Four Seasons in Taormina, which is jam packed with White Lotus groupies. Consider instead this property in western Sicily, the ideal affordable way to explore one of last summer’s most popular destinations. The family-run hotel has just 14 rooms and suites, each with their own private terrace, plus an infinity pool and a restaurant that’s mostly supplied by local produce grown on the vast adjoining estate.
Gary Portuesi of Authentic Explorations says it’s the Planeta family’s passion project, and it shows. “You can assist in the olive harvest, or visit the family ancestral home, Dispensa, to taste their full lineup of wines. Alessio Planeta just won Winemaker of the Year from Wine Enthusiast,” he raves. From $256
Maitai Bora Bora
The recently renovated 74-room hotel on Tahiti’s signature island is a bargain alternative to the overpriced luxe piles that line the postcard-pretty lagoon like a fleet of five-star taxis. Maitai Bora Bora is on a beach that embodies all the reasons why a traveler would want to make the trek to French Polynesia: think palm trees wafted by the wind, white-sand beaches, and vivid blue-green water.
Try some classic poisson cru at one of the two on-site restaurants and, as a bonus, you can wander into the local village in 10 minutes or so to engage with everyday life on Bora Bora (rather than staying in a luxury bubble). From $240
Manda Bay, Kenya
Manda Island might be familiar to most for its role as a military base. But fewer people know that there are charming lodges along this stretch of the Kenyan coast, offering an Indian Ocean idyll priced well below a Maldives overwater bungalow. Manda Bay is the best of them in the Lamu archipelago, per Uncharted’s Sandy Cunningham, who stayed there last year. “It’s family-run, with world-class fishing, amazing food, and the best beach bar.” The 22-room boutique hotel has its own private beach and a waterfront pool. For those who want a dose of the island’s rich culture, the old Arabic town of Lamu—think narrow streets frequented by donkey carts—is only 20 minutes away by boat. From $300
Evolve Back Kamalapura Palace
Time warp back to the opulence of the Vijayanagara empire with a stay at Evolve Back Kamalapura Palace, says Greaves India specialist Tanya Dalton, who calls it “truly beautiful, and truly affordable.” The modern building draws on the Indo-Islamic architecture of that civilization, with teardrop-shaped balustrades and lotus motifs woven throughout.
The hotel takes its inspiration from an ancient fortress, complete with a small entryway and watchtower. The 46 guest rooms are swathed in damask and other rich fabrics. Note that Hampi in the southern state of Karnataka is an overlooked Indian gem, home to the most powerful kingdom in the region in the 14th century, and a UNESCO World Heritage site, with 1,300 temples and palaces ranged around 40 square acres. From $315
Domaine de Primard
- Location: Guainville, France
- Loyalty program: Always Be Expected (Relais & Châteaux)
- Book now
If you want your own country home in France but can’t quite stretch to the mortgage, book a night or two at Domaine de Primard, located in Guainville just over an hour by car to the west of Paris. This imaginative retreat of a country house was once owned by actress Catherine Deneuve. “It’s like having your own house,” says travel advisor Paul Tumpowsky, CEO of Skylark. “I wanted to move in there when I stayed.” The hotel is owned by Guillaume Foucher and Frédéric Biousse, a couple who specialize in small-scale country house–style hotels throughout France. There’s a Michelin-endorsed on-site restaurant, helmed by Eric Frechon, an ardent advocate for classic French cooking, plus a superb spa and wine cellar. Even better, Monet’s house in his beloved Giverny is a mere 20 minutes’ drive away. From $288