Updated on September 4, 2016
Updated on September 4, 2016
There are so many reasons a five star hotel may be more desirable, even dismissing the obvious aspect of luxury. For instance, Drew and I love that five star hotels tend to land us right in the middle of where we want to be. Downtown.
But there are a lot of lesser brands that I have really come to appreciate. In fact, if I want to be somewhere homey, there’s often a non-five-star brand that will provide that feeling best.
Since Drew and I are constantly on the road, we absolutely love hotels that are designed to feel homey. For instance, hotels that have laundry facilities, kitchenettes, loads of desk space, and believe it or not, less frequent cleaning schedules.
A few examples include, Candlewood Suites, (an IHG mid-range brand), Staybridge Suites, (also an IHG mid to upper range brand), Mainstay Suites, (a Choice mid-range brand), Homewood Suites, (a Hilton upper-mid-range brand around 30,000 points.)
An example from our experience: Drew and I just stayed in the Candlewood Suites Denver West Federal Ctr and we really liked it. The location was not very pedestrian friendly, but that is pretty much a consistent draw back of these extended stay hotels. Otherwise, there was a laundry room, and a “grocery store” of sorts. Also our room was great with an enormous desk and a kitchenette. Felt very homey and comfortable, as these places often do. AND, I always feel like these suites are more spacious for the price than any of the five-star hotels we stay at. Or at least, we get lots of space in a standard room rather than hoping for an upgrade for a spacious room.
There’s sort of a bell curve when it comes to amenities and the fanciness of a hotel. If you are paying next to nothing for a hotel, it’s probably going to be one of those hotels that has some kind of continental breakfast (however good or bad it may be,) and free wifi in, at the very least, the lobby or sometimes in your room. But then…once you get to the middle of the road hotels, suddenly you can’t get those things unless you pay. Then, if the hotel is fancy enough or rather if your status is fancy enough and you are “important enough”, you start getting those amenities for free again
A few examples include many of the cheaper end hotels of a chain. For instance Comfort Suites (a low-range Choice hotel) and Hampton Inn (a low-range Hilton hotel), etc. Both of these offer free wifi and free breakfast and this will be similar with other chains’ cheapest brands.
Also, some Holiday Inn Expresses (an IHG mid-range hotel). This isn’t a given, but we’ve had good luck with at least free breakfast at Holiday Inn Expresses.
An example from our experience: The Holiday Inn Express Vegas South is actually not a bad location at all, sitting behind the Mandalay Bay and with shuttle services there every half hour from 7 am (I think) to 1 am. AND it has a nice free breakfast for everyone until 9:30/10 ish in the morning. I thought it was great. We got free wifi because of our status, but there was free wifi for everyone in the lobby.
Oh man. We have only done Airbnb once but it was awesome and now we’re constantly surfing the Airbnb site for places we can bunker down for a month.
I know we’re always talking about the value of spending with a chain that provides benefits for your loyalty and all that, but Airbnb is just…hard to beet for any stay longer than like…5 days. (Unless you find a place you want to be that’s on PointBreaks of course.)
I mean, just as we feel at home in the extended stay suites, this is even more true with Airbnb. Because most of the time you’re in an actual house. Often times all to yourself! Wifi, spaciousness, a homey feeling. It’s great.
An example from our experience: We had an Airbnb stay in Durango Colorado in an adorable little cabin-styled house. There were six of us splitting the price and we each got our own room of course. It was great.
This doesn’t really fit into the theme of homey feeling, or especially convenient for long stays or anything, but I’m including it because it has some undeniably perks that you just will not ever find in a five-star hotel.
You can read my post about our amazing couchsurfing experience, but the gist is you are staying with a real person, many times a local, in their guest bedroom, on their couch, or whatever. And the reason that is such a perk is because the couchsurfing culture is definitely one of enthusiasm for hosting. So in many cases, you’re kind of getting a tour guide AND a host.
This has been true for us when we’ve couch surfed, and hopefully those we’ve hosted via couchsurfing felt we took the time to introduce Charlottesville either in conversation or in various outings. (We were working a lot at the time, but we did try to take our couchsurfers out to eat, or introduce them to our friends or whatever.)
An example from our experience: I encourage you to read the post linked to above, but I’ll provide another example too. When we couchsurfed in Saipan, we stayed with the U.S. Martial who was stationed there. He and his wife, son and daughter in law were so incredibly generous and went out of their way to show us around the scenic spots in Saipan.
Couchsurfing is kind of about making friends too. I really really like that.
The only downside is that the hosting set-up is not very independent, so it’s not a great strategy for long-term stays. Or at least for us, if we stay more than 3 or 4 days we start to feel like we’re bumming off of our hosts. Especially since it’s free.
We’ve had so many neat experiences and so many nice stays that were not “luxurious” per say. But luxury is not why I travel. It’s fun, but it’s a treat. After 365 days of this stuff, you kind of just want to feel at home or want to feel like you have friends. The above experiences are more likely to help that happen.