The only travel question more daunting than “Where should I go?” is “Where should I stay?” Choosing accommodation is an overwhelming process and your choice will frame your entire vacation experience. I’ve done plenty of nights in cold, wet tents on slippery hillsides, more than a few nights in hotels that require heavy duty protective footwear in the showers and most travel nights at your functional, run of the mill corporate hotel. They all have a place and purpose in our travel lives. If you know me, however, you’ll know I love a good, lux hotel, especially if it is part of a great deal. Because I love you, I thought I’d share my go-to sites for finding and booking luxury hotel stays (note: most of the sites require you to register with your email address to access the site).
Secret Escapes I’m sure you’ve seen the adverts for this website. Secret Escape offers “hand-picked” luxury and all-inclusive breaks at 30% to 70% off retail prices. I pulled this offer from Secret Escape’s front page to give you an idea of what they offer…
Iceland Northern Lights Break (39% off). The £279 (appx $433) per person includes air flights, 3 nights hotel stay, transfers, bed and breakfast, welcome drink, Northern Lights excursion and an optional outing to the Blue Lagoon for a spa and soak.
I use Secret Escapes because it has a good, ever changing line-up of properties and is searchable by location, length of stay, type of break, etc. It also links every property page to associated Trip Advisor reviews, the property itself and a comparable booking site, all of which makes researching the offer easier.
Luxury Link offers “members” excellent rates on luxury hotels, resorts, private villas and all-inclusive vacations via direct booking, immediate booking, or my favorite….auction. Don’t let the word “auction” scare you. The registration process for Luxury Link has none of the terrifying overtones of an ebay auction. You log on after creating an account, find an offer and make a bid. You can set a top price and walk away so you don’t have to monitor your bidding status or refresh your screen every 5 minutes. If you win, Luxury Link contacts to you arrange the details of your booking and answer any questions you might have. I like to search the site for “Auctions Ending Soon” to grab some great last minute deals. Here’s an example from a listing I found today…
Cottage for two in Napa sounds nice, doesn’t it? A king-bedded suite with fireplace, whirlpool tub and private porch is $424 for two nights. The rate also includes a welcome bottle of wine, breakfast, winery tour and tasting, daily wine and cheese reception, unlimited use of hotel bicycles and complimentary WIFI and taxes. Yes, I want that.
Voyage Prive offers exceptional deals through “flash sales” on their web site. Offers are limited and posted for a very short time. After registering, you can browse current offers by type of holiday, length of stay and price point. You can also read about the property in exhaustive detail on each page, but you must do your own independent property review research on another site. This Italian Lake deal was tempting today…
How about an autumn stay at the Castello Palace Hotel in Lake Maggiore, Italy? Two nights in a Junior Palace Suite with breakfast, upgrade and restaurant discount for £142 per person.
A stay at the York and Albany in London? A deluxe room with free champers and a late check out at £75 per person out (up to 70% discount off retail rates).
Jetsetter goes beyond flash sale lux offers to provide travel advice and editor recommendations in addition to their spectacular selection of properties. Each property page includes a detailed description, advice about the area and direct links to Trip Advisor and member reviews. Someday, I’m going to book one of their “Mystery” properties and see where I end up. You do have to bounce off the page to do a little comparison shopping on the hotel website. Their front page offer today is resort accommodation at The Sands at Grace Bay for $145 per night (not per person).
The one bedroom suite on offer can accommodate up to four people with sofa bed, kitchen, washer/dryer and screened porch. Bikes, non-motorized water craft, resort pool and direct ocean access come with the room.
While this list is meant to make your life easier, it’s still wise to do a little research. Read the customer reviews, ask questions, check Trip Advisor and most importantly…know your likes and dislikes. My Trip Advisor (or any other review site) advice is to take the top 5 fabulous reviews, the bottom 5 “never stay in this hellhole” reviews and 5 average reviews and look for trends. No matter how big the bargain, if it doesn’t match your needs or expectations, you’ll be unhappy. And we don’t want that.
**I realize that some of the sites I listed and mentioned are based in multiple countries with multiple currencies. Every site listed has a way to set your location and other preferences, so you can search offers relevant to you.
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