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How Much Is Too Much For A Hotel Room?

September 2, 2009 at 12:10 PM | by | ()

The Plaza in New York usually goes for $495 a night. We stayed there for $239.

When The Crosby Hotel announced yesterday that its room rates would be starting at $525 a night, we got to thinking--who would pay that much?

Everyone has a different budget for hotels when traveling, but sometimes even folks with big bank accounts refuse to spend more than $150 (or less!) on a hotel room, especially if it's just a chain brand like the Hilton, Marriott or Hyatt. These chains may be nice, but even the pricey ones don't necessarily offer any of the cool amenities and personal touches that you'd find at boutique hotels. And many times these places give us headaches with their fugly decor.

Fortunately, a lot of these big-box hotel rooms can be found at reasonable rates on online booking sites like Expedia, Hotwire and Priceline, thus ensuring that folks can always get a big hotel name for less.

However, there are other travelers who would willingly pay $400+ a night for the "experience"--usually at lauded luxury hotels (Four Seasons, Park Hyatts, Mandarin Orientals, etc.) or the hottest new boutique hotel in the city, last frequented by some A-list celebrity. Some would pay that much despite having a teeny tiny room and no free internet if it meant name-dropping the hotel to your friends.

Lastly, there are those who would willingly pay thousands of dollars for a totally unusual stalker hotel experience. For example, tennis fanatics with deep pockets will happily shell out $3,075 to stay in The Carlyle's Roger Federer Suite so that they can rest their heads on the same monogrammed R.F. pillows the ace athlete sleeps on when he's in New York.

And some will pay extra to get pampered excessively, like the luxe $500-and-up Outdoor Moonlight Massage and Hidden Terrace Dinner package at the Salish Lodge & Spa, the hotel from Twin Peaks that sits atop some gorgeous mountains.

Here at HotelChatter, we're a little jaded. We really do balk at hotel rooms upward of $200 if it's just an average hotel that's been open for a few years. In Vegas, we really really don't like paying over $100 a night for a four-star hotel. We may pay more for a new hotel in the city but it certainly wouldn't be more than $350 a night. And that's only if we're staying one night.

Also, we're a bit of a deal junkie so we'll use all the tricks we can find to book a room for less on Hotwire or Priceline. And we'd probably do that even if we struck it rich. Well, probably not if we won $252 million dollars.

Tell us, what is your absolute limit for paying for a hotel rooms? $150, $250 or does it not matter so long as you are getting an "experience" of some sort? Let us know your budget in comments below.

[Photo: Ryan Charles/HotelChatter Flickr Pool]

Archived Comments:


bc of my budget and bc of what i know abt hotels, i hate paying for rooms that are more than $200. but sometimes it depends on the deal i can find. like if a room usually goes for $450 and I can get it for $250, that's ok. But i rarely stay more than two nights. for longer trips, i would have to go lower no matter what the discount. and in vegas, ive been spoiled. once you pay $54 for the planet hollywood on hotwire, paying more is really hard to do again.

Depends Mastercard and VISA's moods that month

Finances allowing, anything that's 50% off or more on Priceline or Hotwire in a city I'm traveling too. For "get the hell out of Dodge" leisure travel, probably around $125 for a Hilton, Marriott or Hyatt during the off-season in a competitive market like San Diego.


For top end hotels:
NYC = $300
Vegas = $149 (if you include weekend nights $99 for weeknights)
LA= $249
SF= $149

depends on the trip

If I'm traveling for an event or for work (but paying) and know that I won't be in my room at all, I'll happily shack up at the Motel 6 or equivalent--but first I would check the nicer hotels to see if any deals were going.

But if I'm on a fun trip or looking to spend a lot of time at a hotel's pool (or bar) I'll pony up a bit more cash. But I still hate to pay more than $150-200 a night. The only time I spent over $300 a night was the night of my wedding.

Thanks to Hotwire et al I really don't see the point of paying full-price. Same applies to shopping: watch the sales, look for promo codes, and you never have to pay retail.

must have discounts

I'll do $400 if I'm feeling particularly heavy in the bank (which is never) and it's a truly luxurious escape and a short stay. I agree that there must be a deal in place, because once you score a 5-star for $80 a night, all bets are off for other hotels.

Never pay full price

I try not to spend more than $150 a night at a hotel, and for that price I expect a nice place with great service. I agree with Juliana; for longer stays I have to go where the cheapie rooms are. But with Priceline, Hotwire and other sites, it's easy to get top-notch hotel for a good deal so that you never have to pay full price.

I'll splurge a bit more for a special occasion, but the hotel package better include a spa treatment or some other perks. I wouldn't pay more for a Hilton or Marriott. I'd rather spend the money on cute, independent and/or unusual hotels.

Length of stay and occasion are deciding factors

Like Jennifer, I try not to pay more than $150 per night for a hotel room. I enjoy a little luxury as much as the next person, but most of those perks are lost on me because I spend the bulk of my travels outside of the hotel, seeing and experiencing what a destination has to offer. Of course, if I knew I was going away for a birthday celebration, planning a bridal shower, or something of the like, I'd be willing to pony up a little more cash--but even then I'd do some major deal scouring before booking.

Another Negotiator Here

As been said already, Priceline has changed the game.  Scoring luxury hotels for well under the century mark has spoiled me.  At this point $150 might be too much for me, because even NYC can be had for that price at times.

Without Priceline I think I'd start feeling uneasy at anything over $250--I'd be screwed without Shatner!


I definitely pay attention to the rate per night and see if I can find discounts up until the very day of travel. What I find kills my budget, though, is all the extras like parking, breakfast, and use of the internet, not to mention variable (and often high) room taxes! There's nothing worse than thinking you've gotten a great rate, then finding out your bill has nearly doubled when everything is tallied up!

Pay for location

As an hotel pro, i hate to pay more than $199, and i will only do it if the hotel is in prime location for whatever it is i am traveling to do or if it really kicks serious ass. I cannot believe what people will pay in NY or Miami for a hotel room at what are considered average hotels to frequent travelers.

< $200 for me

I can't remember paying over $200 ever (and mostly I'm thinking Aussie dollars, which is even less than US$200). When I was younger and backpacked I stayed in some incredibly great hostels for $20 so I always compare to that and it's really hard to get more than 10 times better to be worth more than $200 a night. Only exception would be somewhere totally unique like the Bad Blumau resort in Austria, guess I paid more there.

I feel..

I feel something above $200 is too much for a hotel room... What say???


I am either a mug or mad or both. I have paid in excess of 1500$ a night for a hotel room (Reethi Rah, le Bristol) and routinely pay over 500$ at Firmdale properties in London. I am in the industry and do get discounts or upgrades but hotels are my main indulgence...I never regretted money spent on a great hotel room

Just like First Class

Love zechaisagod's comments, - Hotwire/priceline can get you a great rate, but please remember when you pay less at a high end hotel you most likely will have to pay for parking, internet, breakfast, etc.  High end hotels have higher costs and amenities that lower brands do not have to pay - hence they can offer the free continental breakfast or donut.  Think of when you pay for that cheap airline ticket- you don't sit in first class with all the extras included with the cost of that ticket.