Where to Stay: A Mid-Range & Luxury Accommodations Guide

Best hotel chains


One of my favorite aspects of travel preparation is picking where to stay. Once upon a time, I would leave this crucial vacation planning phase to chance. With just an airline ticket and a one-night hotel reservation, I’d set out to my destination, not knowing what my first travel day would bring.

Fortunately, I quickly learned my lesson.

Perhaps it’s because I’m growing older (and, hopefully, wiser! ), but I’ve moved on from the carefree, sleep-on-anything attitude that characterized my earlier trips.

I no longer stay in hostels, much to the displeasure of practically every other travel blogger known to man- and womankind. I prefer the luxuries of mid-range luxury hotels or apartment rentals over the cramped shared quarters of cheap motels these days. (In fact, it is the primary reason I travel on a part-time basis rather than full-time!)

With all of this in mind, I produced this tutorial. It includes a rundown of some of the greatest lodging alternatives available, as well as tips to some of the big places I’ve been covering on NonstopAsia

How to find the best accommodations

During my worldwide travels, I’ve been in practically every form of accommodation possible, from campsites and hostels to hotels and homestays—and just about everything in between.

hotel room

Although I prefer comfort above saving a few cents these days, here’s a brief rundown of the primary sorts of accommodation you’ll come across in your search:

  • Camping: If you’re looking for an adventure and are ready to “rough it,” look for a campsite. It’s typically less expensive than a hostel, but not always as comfortable. The main negative is that you’ll have to bring more stuff than you’d want.
  • Hostels: If staying within your budget is your priority, you’ll no doubt be looking at a slew of hostels. Although some hostels provide low-cost private rooms with private toilets, communal accommodations such as dorm rooms and public restrooms are more common. Hostels are open to people of all ages, but I’d be lying if I claimed they weren’t targeted at the twenty-something backpacker culture.
  • Guesthouses: A step up from hostels, guesthouses are often less expensive and provide a more “local” experience than many hotels. There are both private and shared accommodations available.

Homestays: There is nothing better than a homestay to get insight into local customs.Most house owners will go out of their way to provide you with the experience you want. They’re normally pretty pleasant, although, as you would expect, they’re less private than other sorts of lodgings.

Apartment rentals: like homestays, place you in more local lodgings with or without the owner present. One of the most significant drawbacks of renting a car versus staying in a hotel is the inconvenience. (You’ll understand what I mean if you’ve ever had to wait an hour for a building manager to give over the key after a 12-hour travel day.)

Hotels: The most diverse accommodation choice available, hotels range from budget-friendly to only-a-celebrity-could-afford-me. They are often more costly than guesthouses or hostels, but they provide a wider range of services. At the top hotels, you’ll discover world-class restaurants, pools, spas, and a variety of other facilities.

Best hotel booking sites

Few things will make a traveler more excited than suggesting a hotel booking site. Almost everyone has a hotel horror story they’re all too willing to offer as a warning to avoid a certain location.

I feel secure giving this advice after booking a broad range of rooms on a variety of sites. I can’t guarantee that your experience will always be ideal, but here are my top picks for the best hotel booking sites:

Hotel Check-in

Booking.com has been my go-to source for rooms for years. Even with hundreds upon dozens of rooms booked here, the greatest issue I’ve found is a hotel repeatedly lying about accepting credit cards, which I can’t blame on Booking.com. Although it is most known for its hotel booking service, Booking.com now provides everything from vacation rentals to hostels and guesthouses to hotels.

Agoda: is yet another reliable hotel booking site. I often use it now while traveling in Asia since it seems to offer a somewhat larger variety than the other Asian OTAs. Agoda’s prices for Asian hotels are also somewhat lower.

Hotels.com: A excellent range of hotels with the added benefit of a reward program that awards a free night after 10 qualifying stays.

Airbnb is my preferred method of booking owner-occupied apartment rentals and homestays.

Best hotel chains

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that hotel booking websites don’t always provide the greatest discounts. While everything seems to be in order on paper, one thing is missing: hotel loyalty programs.

When you book via a third-party site, such as Booking.com, you forfeit your ability to accumulate points and remain with the hotel’s reward programs. (Of course, I discovered this the hard way.)

Since then, after registering for my membership, I’ve begun my search on the hotel chain’s websites. Not only are the rates often lower than third-party sites, but you can also price match with other promoted discounts and earn loyalty points throughout your stay.

Here are a handful of the most reputable hotel chains:

Marriott is one of the largest hotel chains, including notable hotel brands such as JW Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Courtyard Marriott, Delta, and Renaissance. Following its merger with Starwood Hotels, its portfolio currently includes St. Regis, W, Westin, Sheraton, Aloft, and Four Points by Sheraton. Their Marriott Bonvoy program is one of the greatest hotel reward programs around, and I utilize it for my travel hacking purposes.

Hilton: Despite the shenanigans of this chain’s heiress, Hilton remains one of the top hotel brands in the mid-range to the luxury market. With names like Hilton, Conrad, DoubleTree, and Hampton under its belt, there are plenty of places to stay at all four corners of the globe. Join the Hilton Honors program to get reduced prices as well as advantages like free WiFi and speedy check-out.

Hyatt: With hotel brands like Park Hyatt, Hyatt Place, Andaz, Grand Hyatt, and Hyatt Regency under its belt, it’s difficult to advocate staying at a Hyatt. Their World of Hyatt reward program is fantastic, enabling you to save up to 10% and fast accumulate points for free stays.

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