There’s nothing like going to a new place and having no idea where to stay. Of course it’s great if you are able to get a recommendation from friends who have been to that place (either on specific hotels or just ideal neighborhoods to look), but most trips I’ve taken have been to places my friends haven’t yet been, and I ended up having to do extensive research and choosing a place on my own (don’t get me wrong – I LOVE that part of trip planning, so it really wasnt an issue for me). But in case you’re not big into the planning process like I am, here are my recos to help alleviate that stress!
I’m a big fan of starting the search early and checking pretty regularly for deals. Also, check across sites – if you book your flight through orbitz, expedia, priceline, or kayak, they often offer hotel deals for the 2 weeks following your flight purchase. Otherwise, my two go-to sites are booking.com and agoda.com, because you can book most properties with free cancellation in case you change your mind later, and sometimes rooms aren’t available on one sit but are on the other. Also, make sure to check with the hotel directly. Because all these other booking sites now exist, often if you book direct, the hotel will offer tons of additional perks, like early check-in/late check-out, spa/restaurant credits, or free airport transfer.
From all my travels to date, a handful of hotels have stood out as being incredible values – great location, beautiful rooms, extra perks, and all for a completely reasonable price in each location. Read on for more info about each!
THE ACE HOTEL, SHOREDITCH [LONDON, ENGLAND]
Rates start at $165 per night for a standard double, and by London standards, this is a GREAT deal, especially for a boutique hotel. It may seem a bit east and far from the airports/main attractions, but if you’re up for a bit of walking and a couple of adventures on the double-decker buses, this hotel is PERFECT. Also, East London is very trendy these days, so it’s worth taking a look at the area whether you stay here or not. But assuming you take my advice and check out the Ace Hotel, a short, leisurely walk south towards the water will have you pass Leadenhall Market on your way to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Other attractions like Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and St Paul’s Cathedral are all an easy bus ride away. We typically avoid tour buses, but since the double deckers in London are also standard transit, we found them a great way to see more sights in less time. There is also a restaurant, coffee bar, and cocktail bar situated within the hotel. More info here.
APARTMENT BREWERY INN [AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS]
Rates start at $200 per night, but if you book ahead like we did, you’ll pay less (we paid around $160/night). This a self-service apartment with beautiful views overlooking the canal (the photo above was taken from the living room window!), but the owner provides all the essentials, like towels and linens. They even threw in a few local beers for our enjoyment! From a location standpoint, we can’t recommend this spot enough. It’s situated along the Brouersgracht, between two of the main canals, Singel and Herengracht, allowing for easy access to all the main sights either walking, on bike, or via canal tour. It’s also just short walk from Amsterdam Centraal train station (about 10 minutes). Note that the owner has two apartments available – the ground floor unit,which has an outdoor terrace in the back, and the first floor/canal view apartment where we stayed. For more information, check here. I would highly recommend this apartment to anyone traveling to Amsterdam!
HOTEL ARENAL MANOA [ARENAL, COSTA RICA]
Rooms start at $144 per night for a massive suite in this beautiful resort. Note that it is not a typical hotel but a large resort with multi-unit casitas, each with a large sitting area and outdoor terrace/deck. This resort is ideal for anyone from couples to families and has three large pools plus a great restaurant in the middle. It’s not all-inclusive, but it has the feel of an all-inclusive Caribbean resort – anything you need can be found within the resort, and you could spend your entire vacation lounging by the pool or at the restaurant if that’s what your heart desired. For those of legal age, each pool has a separate happy hour, with most people starting at one and moving from pool to pool together from 5-8pm (it was pretty entertaining to watch the migration on our first evening there). From a location standpoint, it’s about 2 hours from San Jose airport in the La Fortuna/Arenal area, situated just at the base of the volcano, which makes for pretty incredible views. It’s also close to Tabacon if you’re looking to do a day or night outing to the hot springs, and it’s an easy ride to the Sky Adventures activities. More info here.
BATU KARANG LEMBONGAN RESORT & SPA [NUSA LEMBONGAN, INDONESIA]
Rooms start at $225/night, which may seem steep, but I can promise you this resort is worth every penny. Situated just off the beach in Nusa Lembongan, Batu Karang is in a prime location close to the action while also feeling quiet and peaceful. There are multiple pools within the resort, one of which has a swim up bar, as well as a restaurant, waterfront bar & restaurant (“The Deck”), and all rooms have a beautiful view of the most beautiful turquois water I’ve ever seen. We booked directly through the hotel which turned out to be a better deal than booking through a site like booking.com or orbitz.com, and they arranged all of our transit from the mainland and back for about $30USD/person (including the ferry). It was an absolute slice of heaven in the Nusa Islands, and I wouldn’t stay anywhere else if I returned. More info here.
DOMUS BALTHAZAR DESIGN HOTEL [PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC]
Prague is known for being relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to Western European destinations. But even by those standards, this hotel is a STEAL. Rooms start at $75 per night, an for not much more, you can get a massive suite. Note that the hotel does not have an elevator, so make sure you’re comfortable climbing a few flights of stairs (the larger rooms are on the upper floors and also have the best views). The location also could not be more perfect. Situated in the Praha 1/Mala Strana area at one end of the famous Charles Bridge, this boutique hotel is both easily accessible from Old Town Square and the Castle. We’re hoping to return to Prague soon and will absolutely be staying here again. For more information, check here.
HOTEL BELMAR [MONTEVERDE, COSTA RICA]
When people visit Costa Rica, they usually flock to the famous beaches or Manuel Antonio in the south. But if you happen to find yourself in the Cloud Forest of Monteverde, look no further than Hotel Belmar. Rooms start at $200 per night, but I’d recommend paying a little bit more to get one of the superior rooms (like the photo above, these rooms are on the top floor and have both a beautiful balcony and great views of the cloud forest). Belmar has an amazing restaurant and bar on the main level and is a short walk to the small downtown if you want to check out the restaurants there. The hotel also arranged a ziplining tour for us as well as a tour of the hotel’s nearby farm (sustainability is HUGE for Hotel Belmar, which makes it even better!). In my opinion, there is absolutely no better place to stay in Monteverde! For more info, check here.
HOTEL LE PETIT CHOMEL [PARIS, FRANCE]
Located in the heart of the 7th (and right off the Sevres-Babylone metro) lies Le Petit Chomel, a beautiful boutique hotel. Rooms start at $185 per night, which is an incredible deal in this location. Request a room with a balcony so you can have wine and watch the sun set one night! The Hotel is situated just off the 6th, so it’s an easy walk to the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood, as well as within walking distance to the Musée d’Orsay, the Luxembourg gardens, Les Invalides, and the Latin Quarter. We even walked to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Arc du Triomphe (just depends how much walking you’re up for doing!). The nearby subway makes it easy to get to further sites such as Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur, as well as the train to Versailles. More info here.
THE KAYON RESORT [UBUD, BALI, INDONESIA]
This is quite possibly my favorite hotel I’ve ever stayed in throughout all my travels. While there are others that I loved specifically for their location and proximity to sights, what made this hotel so special was the hotel grounds itself. They clearly care about the little touches – from the flowers and welcome drinks we received upon arrival to the Balinese bracelets we were gifted upon our departure. Rooms start around $175/night, and you really can’t have a bad room. There are multiple options – the Valley Deluxe Suites boast beautiful views of the surrounding forest; the River Deluxe Suites have stunning views of the river; and there are five pool villas, of course, come with their own private pool. All of the Suites have spacious terraces, and the bathrooms are absolutely stunning with their own incredible views. As far as amenities, there’s a spa on site, a fitness center, and an amazing restaurant. Breakfast was included in our rate and was a three-course meal plus pastries, juice, and coffee every morning. One of the best hotel breakfasts I’ve ever had. As far as complimentary benefits go, I’m not sure there’s a hotel that offers more than The Kayon Resort. Perks include morning yoga, an hourly shuttle to/from Ubud town, guided morning walks to the nearby town and rice terraces, afternoon tea and small bites, among other things. They also just opened a second location a bit further north, The Kayon Jungle Resort. Oh, and did I mention the STUNNING pool? See the pic above for reference. The photo was taken from my seat at breakfast – talk about meal views, right?! For more on The Kayon Resort, check this out.
LA MORADA SUITES [CUSCO, PERÚ]
Rates for this gem start at $60/night. The hotel is situated in lively San Blas, just up the hill from the Plaza de Armas. Consider yourself warned that it is up a hill, so if you’re starting your Peru trip in Cusco, you may find walking up the hill to the hotel a bit challenging, even if you exercise regularly. It got easier each day as we got more acclimated to the altitude, but take that into consideration before booking a hotel in Cusco. If you’re up for the slight challenge, this hotel was incredible. We had a group of 6 and spent several nights there – the first few in the two bedroom family suite (just off the patio shown in the picture above), and the rest in separate multi-level casitas. Both are great options for bigger groups, but if you’re traveling as a couple, definitely go for the casitas – they have a sitting area, bathroom, and kitchenette on the ground floor, and then a bedroom up one level. There’s a beautiful communal patio connecting all of the rooms as well, and breakfast is offered daily. The hotel staff was incredibly helpful as this was our jumping off point for multiple treks (we stayed 2 nights before embarking on the Inca Trail trek, then returned for two nights before heading out on the Choquequirao trek, and then had a final night before heading to Lima). They let us store our large packs between stays so we only had to take the essentials with us on our treks which was incredibly helpful. All around highly recommend this hotel in Cusco! For more info on this amazing hotel, check here. And for more info on what to do during your stay in Cusco, check out this post!
LIROLAY SUITES [SAN CARLOS DE BARILOCHE, ARGENTINA]
If you find yourself in Bariloche, you’ll either be deciding between a hotel in town or a hotel outside of town – most of the nicer, boutique hotels are outside of town, and for a reason (I mean, look at the view in the photo above!). We opted for the latter so that we could be along the lake, and it was the perfect spot for our group. Rates start at $110 per night for doubles, but for larger groups there is an amazing suite option (which we took advantage of), with two bedrooms, a huge living room area with a fireplace, and a kitchen. The hotel staff could not have been nicer or more helpful, even arranging cars for us, handling laundry, and helping secure bus tickets as the next leg of our trip was across the border into Chile. I would absolutely come back to Lirolay Suites if I ever find myself back in Barlioche. Check out here for more info on Lirolay, and find more info on what to do in Bariloche on this post!
MAKERS HOTEL [SEOUL, KOREA]
The Makers itself was a perfectly lovely hotel. It had a boutique feel to it, reminding me of the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch. The rooms were quaint, but that’s to be expected in a big city, so we didn’t mind that. Unlike other places where you look to relax at the hotels, when you’re in a city, you usually spend more time outside of the hotel, so location tends to matter most (once you realize it’s clean, of course!). Rooms start at $75/night, which is a STEAL for a big city, not to mention the perfect location of Makers. It’s situated literally directly above a metro stop, but we only used the metro once on our way from the airport. Otherwise we were so close to all the main sights that we could walk basically everywhere we wanted to go, including to all the major temples, Bukchon Hanok Village, and even Namsan Park. Step outside of the hotel, and just across the street is charming Ikseon-dong Hanok Village, filled with amazing restaurants, cute shops, and the most incredible dumpling shop ever. While there are tourists, it’s one of the lower trafficked Hanok villages, which makes it extra special. It’s also within a 5-10 minute walk of popular Insadong, another street filled with shops and restaurants. Any time I return to Seoul, this will absolutely be the place I stay. You can’t find a better deal for the location! For more information on the Makers Hotel, check here.
POSADA VERDE OLIVA [MENDOZA, ARGENTINA]
Rates for this wine country gem start at just under $100 per night for a standard double. It’s a small Posada, so rooms book up quickly – make sure to check far in advance of our stay for the best chance at snagging a room. The Posada was incredible – from the welcome coffee and pastries to the pool to the olive and wine groves, this is the place to stay in Mendoza wine country. It’s an easy cab drive into town, and the hotel will arrange airport and Mendoza town transfers upon request. The posada also made us an incredible dinner on our first night there, including offering two bottles of wine from their wine vault at no additional charge. I’m a pescatarian, so it made me feel especially appreciative when they offered to make me an incredible veggie plate and vegetarian empanadas when their typical meal is steak. Talk about going the extra mile for your guests! If you’re considering a trip to Mendoza, check out Posada Verde Oliva – you wont be disappointed! For more on the Posada, read here. You can also check out my post on what to do in Mendoza here as well as my favorite wine tour here.
SALAD BURI RESORT & SPA [KOH PHANGAN, THAILAND]
Standard double rooms here start at $40 per night, with one bedroom pool villas starting at $105 per night. Situated on the beautiful hidden gem that is Haad Salad, you really can’t get more relaxed than a stay at Salad Buri. The hotel is situated on the beach with two beachfront pools as well as a huge open air restaurant. All rooms have a terrace, but I’d highly recommend spending a little more for the pool villas as they’re situated up the hill a bit and have stunning views of the water. The staff was incredible friendly and arranged out airport transfer from Koh Samui, including the ferry between the islands. For more on why Koh Phangan should be on your travel bucket list, read here, and check out this for more info on the hotel itself.
SUEÑO DEL MAR [PLAYA LANGOSTA, COSTA RICA]
This bed and breakfasts is one of my all around favorite hotels I’ve ever stayed in. Situated about a 15 minute walk from busy Tamarindo, it’s situated on a quiet stretch of beach for the ultimate R&R. There are hammocks and day beds to lounge in, as well as a small pool (which is perfect for the number of guests at the hotel as it’s relatively small). It’s the perfect mix with the proximity to town but location on a private beach. The hotel serves breakfast every morning, and it’s probably the best breakfast I’ve ever had in my life. I was there two years ago and still am dreaming about the scallion omelet I had on the second morning. We were only there three nights, but I wish we’d stayed more – we’ll defnitely be back, and I highly recommend you check it out if you’re looking to stay near Tamarindo. Rates start at $140 per night. For more on this beautiful B&B, check here.
YH GIRALDA [SEVILLA, SPAIN]
This hotel is one of my best finds ever. I lived in Sevilla during college and go back almost yearly to visit the family I lived with. When i’m not trying to overstay my welcome at their home, I always stay at YH Giralda. It’s a 2-star hotel and actually listed as a hostel on most websites, but it’s a full-on hotel with all private rooms and private bathrooms. The rooms aren’t huge, nor are the bathrooms, but you’ll be spending very little of your time in your hotel room in Sevilla, so the location right in the heart of Barrio Santa Cruz makes it the perfect choice. I almost didn’t want to list it here for fear of it becoming so popular and rates going up, but it’s a great spot and deserves the recognition, so here we are! Rates start at $65 per night for a double room, though I dont think I’ve ever paid more than $45 a night, so check early and secure a room as soon as you can. For more on YH Giralda, check here. And for more on why Sevilla is an absolute must see city, check out my post here!
Booking a hotel for an upcoming trip and wondering if you’re getting the best deal? Leave a comment below, and I’ll let you know my recommendation for when to purchase!