Monday, February 13, 2017

Which is better, to book the cheapest room in a 5-star hotel, or the best suite in a 3-star hotel?

It depends. Would you like to stay in a 5-star a 3-star hotel?
Most of my experience is in mid-market hotels. Even in those we get the occasional bargain hunter you see lots more of at an economy tier property. Hotel room rates can be negotiable, although not nearly as much as some people seem to have the impression. But a lot of people do walk around with that impression, so we end up dealing with quite a few people who want the best room in the house at a 10% discount off what the guy in the cheapest room is paying.
(I let it drive me a little more nuts than I should, but it's a personal pet peeve of mine. When I’m having a bad day, I get onto YouTube and bring up that video of Priceline Negotiator heading off a cliff in that bus, and it makes me feel better. Nonetheless, it does happen.)

Image result for five star hotel
So, it is kind of awkward for to have too many 'levels' of quality, amenities, service level, or price within a single hotel, or that much of a spread between them. I might set aside a specific room or suite, that's a little extra nice or that has a nicer view, for someone special if I know ahead of time that they're coming, and put a few extra amenities, maybe a freebie or two, in there. But generally, what you call the “best suite in (the) hotel” isn't that much better than the average suites of the same type. It may be a suite instead of a room, and it may rent for a little more, but neither the price nor the quality will vary by much.

At the other end, we might have a room in a bad spot — next to a noisy elevator or vending area — that draws complaints, and we only rent it to people after we tell them up front what they’re getting into, and maybe give them a few bucks off. Or someone who’s in town on a night when every hotel in town is full might be glad to have it at any price. But except for that one flaw, it’s not that much of a comedown from the other rooms. It may even be just as nice.
The more upscale or luxurious the hotel, the more options you might have in terms of quality or service levels, or price range, but even those won’t vary by much (unless it’s a high end luxury property with a one-of-a-kind $30,000 per night suite, like someone mentioned yesterday; but even that will be a one-of-a-kind room). If a luxury hotel has a concierge level, the rooms that are not on the concierge level won’t exactly be shabby.
Remember the Cadillac Cimarron, from the early ‘80’s? Although it stayed in production for six years, it is generally considered a failure as a car model, and automotive writers to this day point to it as the low point in Cadillac’s history. It couldn’t be much of a Caddy if it was built on a compact Chevy Cavalier frame and rolled out of the same plant. A corruption of the Cadillac brand. An overpriced Cavalier with a few extra bells and whistles, maybe, but not a real Cadillac. Real Cadillacs are big, and designed from scratch as Cadillacs, with luxury designed in; and the Cimarron was small, a modified cheap Chevy model, and the luxury seemed to have been added as an afterthought.
Likewise, I can’t imagine a really upscale property keeping a few cheap, $100 per night, rooms in inventory. The Fontainebleau couldn’t have a bunch of rooms like that tucked away on one floor and still be much of a Fontainebleau. The Fountainebleau will offer some variation in styles of rooms, and service levels, but the difference isn’t going to be like First Class and steerage on the Titanic. Nor could you stay in one of those rooms if they had them, and really get the Fontainebleau experience — and once you get above the mid-market, select service level, the only reason to stay at a luxury property is for the unique experience of staying at that property.
I’ve seen several New York hotels’ websites where the rooms were decorated in a variety of styles, and offered at different prices. But the price variation wasn’t that much, and which one to choose was mostly a matter of what kind of decor you like.
So, do you want the 3-star or the 5-star amenity level?
The ‘best suite’ in a three-star hotel isn’t going to be that much of an improvement over all of the other suites in that hotel; and it’s still going to be in a 3-star hotel, so don’t expect much more.
And the worst voodoo hellhole room in a 5-star hotel isn’t going to be that much of a comedown from the other rooms in that hotel; if it's the cheapest room, you won't save that much money if you rent it — and it’s still going to be in a 5-star hotel.

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