Sure, five star hotels may offer you the best in terms of service, comfort, and amenities, but there’s a big difference between “best” and “best value” hotels. Which hotels offer the best value isn’t always obvious. Industry experts and lifelong travelers have varying opinions as to what kind of hotel offers the biggest bang for your buck. Some may argue for one-star lodgings for the low price points, while others may say that three-star hotels bring the perfect balance of quality amenities and affordability. Meanwhile, others claim the luxury offerings five-star properties are worth the additional cost, thinking if you’re going to spend on a hotel, why not get the best? Deciding which tier of hotel offers the best value can be frustrating.
Let the data decide for you. This point system analyzes prices, as well as typical on-site and in-room amenities (including overall room quality) to come to a conclusion. Points for prices are given according to how much higher or lower that starred hotel is from the average hotel price. For amenities and room quality, there is a focus on things travelers value most. (For instance, in a recent survey by industry leaders it was found that a free breakfast is the most prized hotel amenity and free Wi-Fi comes in second, so extra points will be given for those two.)
Value Points for Price
First, a benchmark number is needed: the average price of a hotel in America. Travelers pay an average of $137 per night for a hotel in America. However, with so many different price points throughout the country, perhaps it’s best to focus on one city. For this piece, sample data will be taken from rates for hotels in Los Angeles and surrounding areas, where the overall average cost of lodging is $138 per night. Awarding points will use the following formula:
- Hotels at or below the average get one point automatically, and are awarded an extra point for each $10 their average price is below the national average.
- Hotels above the average are deducted one point automatically, and are deducted another point for each $25 their average price is above the national average.
Average prices for each tier of hotel are as follows:
- One-star hotels: average $80, which gives these properties a total of 6 points (one for being under and five for being $50+ under).
- Two-star hotels: average $112, which nets these lodgings a total of 3 points.
- Three-star hotels: average $171, which equals -2 points for these properties.
- Four-star hotels: average $289, which equals -7 points for these upscale accommodations.
- Five-star hotels: average $436, which equals -12 points for these luxury lodgings.
Value Points for Amenities
Only popular on-site amenities, according to travelers, will be considered. The top two, complimentary breakfast and free internet, are analyzed separately. Four points will go to first place in each of those, two points to second place, zero to third place, and negative one and negative two points to fourth and fifth places, respectively.
For the other top amenities, eight points will go the hotel that offers the most of those altogether, four points to second place, and two points to third place; fourth and fifth place will have one and two points deducted. The same formula will be used for room quality.
Research shows that 53 percent of two-star hotels, 36 percent of three-star ones, and 16 percent of one-stars hotels offer free breakfast. So, four points go to two-star lodgings, two points go to three-star lodging, and one-star properties break even at zero points. Four-star hotels come in fourth at 10 percent, and thus lose one point. Five-star hotels place last in free breakfast, with only five percent offering them, and thus lose two points. The tally as of now is:
- Two-star hotels in first with 7 points
- One-star hotels in second with 6 points
- Three-star hotels in third with 0 points
- Four-star hotels in fourth with -8 points
- Five-star hotels in fifth with -14 points
According to a survey by travel researchers, only one percent of three-star hotels, three percent of two-star hotels, and five percent of one-star lodgings charge for Wi-Fi. Thus, four points go to three-star lodgings, two points go to two-star properties, and one-stars again break even at zero. Four-star hotels come in fourth in this category, as 11 percent charge for wi-fi, and thus lose one point, while five-star places come in last again with a whopping 20 percent charging for internet, and therefore lose two points. The tally as of now is as follows:
- Two-star hotels in first with 9 points
- One-star hotels in second with 6 points
- Three-star hotels in third with 4 points
- Four-star hotels in fourth with -9 points
- Five-star hotels in fifth with -16 points
Other Popular On-Site Amenities
Prized amenities include on-site restaurants, bars, spas, pools, air-conditioning, parking, 24-hour desk service, smoke free regulations, coffee or tea available in the lobby, children’s daycare, baggage assistance, and numerous others. In determining this, it’s important to consider the definition of each hotel star:
- One-star hotels simply meet basic needs and offer no-frills accommodation, so it can be assumed that popular amenities (think 24-hour front desk service and modern air-conditioning) aren’t guaranteed.
- Two-star hotels are typically clean and boast some on-site luxuries, such as a pool and parking, but usually such amenities aren’t numerous.
- Three-star hotels up the experience with the presence of more amenities, like an on-site restaurant, pool, and/or 24-hour service. Decor on-site is usually more aesthetically pleasing as well.
- Four-star hotels are where luxury starts, as the presence of numerous eateries, a bar, pool, spa, and more can be assumed to be on-site, along with valet parking, baggage assistance, and more.
- Five-star hotels are top-notch, as such properties boast a comprehensive list of popular amenities, including—but not limited to—high-end restaurants and pubs, tennis centers, pools, health clubs, children’s daycare, and much more.
- Two-star hotels still in first at 8 points
- Three-star hotels in second at 6 points
- One-star hotels in third place at 4 points
- Four-star hotels in fourth place at -5 points
- Five-star hotels still in fifth place at -8 points.
Overall Room Quality
So, Which Hotels Offer the Best Value?
- Three-Star Hotels: 8 points
- Two-Star Hotels: 7 points
- One-Star Hotels: 2 points
- Five-Star Hotels: 0 points
- Four-Star Hotels: -1 points