April 21, 2011

When that 4.5 star hotel at a 2 star price isn’t such a great deal

Are you in the planning stages of a spring or summer vacation?  Another timely vacation re-read from 2010


Last weekend, Big Daddy, the girls and me went for a weekend trip to Washington DC.  We had a great time.  DC is SUCH a great city.  It’s so family friendly and very economical as nearly everything there is FREE.

Big Daddy booked our hotel through our favorite discount travel site and he booked a lovely, posh hotel in Crystal City, Virgina for $60 a night.

I want to start off by saying the hotel was really lovely.  It was very appealing, aesthetically.  The room was lovely and the beds were divine.  It had loads of lovely amenities, including a half a dozen restaurants and an outdoor pool with a lifeguard.

On Thursday night we stayed at a inexpensive chain motel elsewhere in Virginia due to an communication faux pas between Big Daddy and me.  Just to give you a point of reference, the lower cost room was nice and clean, but the beds were HARD.


We thought we were getting a GREAT deal with our $60 price tag for the 4.5 and the room rate was, indeed, fantastic (the rack rate inside the room was posted at $640 a NIGHT) but we didn’t get a better deal than we did at our 2.5 star hotel elsewhere in Virgina and here’s why.  Budget conscious travelers take note because I’m about to impart some important info.

Post hotels, while lovely and truly fun to stay out are rife with hidden costs and LESS free amenities than more family friendly, less fancy hotels.

1) 2 star motel featured an in room microwave and refridgerator AND the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon on the t.v.  Fancy schmancy hotel featured a safe and ALL news/sports channels.

We were only staying two nights, so the lack of a fridge/microwave/ kid friendly t.v. channels wasn’t an issue, but since the hoity toity hotel was geared towards business people, the rooms weren’t automatically equipped to be family friendly.

If you really need a fridge/microwave/family friendly t.v. channels, you’ll probably pay a surcharge for the first two amenities (plus PPV charges to get family friendly t.v. shows/movies).

And free wi-fi?  Nada.  Unless you had t-mobile and a t-mobile account.  Cheapie hotel?  You guessed it.  Free.  We had our iPhones, so the lack of free internet wasn’t an issue, but still, if you needed it, you were going to pay for it or not have it.

2) No such thing as a free lunch breakfast

We’ve spent a lot of time staying in Holiday Inn Expresses and their ilk and our 2 star motel was of a similar ilk.  These places tend to offer some sort of free continental breakfast, which is a real money saver for a family of five.  Most places offer a selection of cold cereals and pastries/bread items and some protein (yogurt, eggs, breakfast meats,e tc).  Of course, they varry, but they’re free.

Hoity Toity Hotel offered NO complimentary food.  They offered room service, where you could buy a pot of coffee and an omelet for $26.

Complimentary breakfasts aren’t a deal breaker for us, but if you’re counting on the convenience of a free morning meal, you probably WON’T find it the 4.5 star establishment.

Again, there are five of us, so buying breakfast usually costs anywhere from $20 for fast food to nearly $40 at a nicer sit down breakfast place (like the ADORABLE Metro 29 diner we breakfasted at on Saturday morning).

3) Parking is at a premium in Washington DC and the surrounding suburbs.  Big Daddy and I visited prior to 9/11 and the parking situation is totally different now.

And hotels are no exceptions.  Needless to say, cheapie hotel had ample FREE parking and less expensive hotels would offer lower rates or would comp your parking if you stayed at their hotel and parked in their garage.  Posh hotel had one option: valet parking at $25 a day PLUS a tip for the valet when he returned your car (not mandated, but of course you tip on car return).  That meant we payed an extra $56 to park for our two nights in DC.

So, while our hotel cost only $60 a night, we ended up paying $120/night to stay there figuring in the extra costs of parking and breakfast.

The point?

Well, of course hoity toity hotel was still a great deal.  It had a good location and it was very VERY nice, but next time, I might opt to stay at the the three star where they offer more free and family friendly amenities and if you’re planning a get away this summer, it might be something you’d want to consider too.

We’ve had the best luck hosting Hotwire.com to book our hotel rooms.  We’ve truly gotten some great deals including the Hoity Toity hotel mentioned above (Hyatt Regency in Crystal City).  I’m not compensated for any of this, we’ve just had great luck with Hotwire and like to share a good deal. :)

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5 thoughts on “When that 4.5 star hotel at a 2 star price isn’t such a great deal

    […] When that 4.5 star hotel at a 2 star price isn’t such a great deal | All My Loose Ends allmylooseends.com/2010/07/13/when-that-4-5-star-hotel-at-a-2-star-price-isnt-such-a-great-deal/ – view page – cached Last weekend, Big Daddy, the girls and me went for a weekend trip to Washington DC. We had a great time. DC is SUCH a great city. It’s so family friendly and very economical as nearly everything there is FREE. Tweets about this link […]

    Author’s gravatar

    What a great summary! For our family of 6 it’s always way more comfortable to book a serviced apartment with kitchen facilities, however there’s something about 4/5 star hotel bathrooms that helps me forget my screaming, hungry, cooped up kids!

    Author’s gravatar

    Oh, it was very nice, make no mistake about it. The beds and linens were amazing, the decor was great but the kids were happier in the cheapie chain. Thankfully, money wasn’t a HUGE issue, because the extra costs doubled the price of our stay, really.

    Author’s gravatar

    Great review! Definitely quite a few things to remember the next time (ha ha) I have to book a hotel room for my family which now includes a toddler. One thing I always bring with me when travelling is a pack of electrical plug covers. Never fails, my little guy is a magnet for plugs.

      Author’s gravatar

      You’re right about the outlet covers. We find we have to completely unplug and disconnect the phones. Littlebit refuses to leave them alone and we don’t way to pay long distance fees at those prices.

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