How Much Luxury Is Good Enough

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Andaz Amsterdam
View from my room at the Andaz Amsterdam.

What Premium Will You Pay for Luxury?

I had an interesting experience during my recent visit to Amsterdam that go me thinking about a few things. As you may know, during my first big international trip (Our 18 month family RTW trip from 2007-2008), we stayed almost exclusively in budget accommodations.

Today I generally stay in much nicer places for less money thanks to this hobby! That doesn’t mean that my budget consciousness has gone away though. I recently had a situation in Amsterdam that made me think about how much luxury is enough and question what it’s worth?

1 or 2 Nights at Andaz Amsterdam

Andaz Amsterdam
Andaz Amsterdam elevator bay.

Coming into my trip to Europe, I knew that I would be spending two nights in Amsterdam. Having heard great things about the Andaz, I happily made a one night booking there. It is expensive at 20,000 points, but I wanted the experience.

For the second night (my 1st night in Amsterdam), I left it open, because spending 20,000 points didn’t feel necessary, especially considering I was traveling by myself. Finally when the day came to make the decision (i.e. the day of check-in), I decided not to spend the points, so I looked for alternatives.

Where to Stay

Andaz Amsterdam
Best Western Blue Square Lobby.

One of the major deciding factors for me was the time of arrival. I was arriving late in the afternoon and was pretty tired. Since I had no plans to go out into Amsterdam that night, I decided it would be alright to stay out of the center of the city.

While on the train from Antwerp to Amsterdam, I used my phone to search Kayak, Hotel Tonight, Travelpony and a few other sites. On Travelpony I saw the Best Western Blue Square for only $51. It was not only the cheapest option, but every other site had the hotel for $71!

Now people often think of Best Western hotels as lower end, but internationally that isn’t the case. The Best Western Blue Square is rated four stars, however that is a closer equivalent to three stars in the United States. (The Andaz is rated five stars.)

Andaz Amsterdam
Best Western Blue Square room.

Another factor that went into my decision was the realization that I would most likely be able to check-in early at the Andaz and would also get late checkout. As it turned out, I checked in at 9am and checked out the next day at 4pm. So if I had stayed two nights I would have been in the room for 48 hours (4pm-4pm), but with one night, I had the room a pretty decent 31 hours.

As for location, the Best Western is two minutes from a tram stop. The tram takes 10 minutes to the center of town. To compare, the Andaz is about a 10-15 minute walk to the center of Amsterdam. In other words, it takes the same amount of time to reach the historic center from either property.

Comparing the Two

So lets talk cash comparisons here to see the scope of difference between these hotels. The Andaz was going for 400 Euro or $500 per night (For a normal room without the upgraded canal view I received.). In other words, the Best Western, a four star hotel was 1/10 the cost. That is a staggering difference.

So the question now becomes, is the luxury at the Andaz worth 10x the cost? (Or 8x if you value the points I used at $.02 each.) I have a hard time thinking that is possible.

Andaz Amsterdam
Andaz Amsterdam room.

Now my stay at the Andaz was nearly flawless while I had some initial problems with the staff at the Best Western. With that said, the room at the Best Western was clean and comfortable, but no comparison to the Andaz. In reality though, there would be a serious problem if it were.

I also actually enjoyed the neighborhood where the Best Western was located. It had a few shops and I even ran into a St. Martin’s day parade and celebration. It was a good time.

The fact that I spent 20,000 points for the luxury of the Andaz in the first place is a rare occurrence for me. (Although it is becoming more normal now that I have Hyatt Diamond status!) I normally always seek out the best VALUE points redemptions in lieu of luxury which is why I think that I had a hard time pulling the trigger on a second night of luxury.

Conclusion

In the end, I feel like I made the perfect decision. I don’t regret splurging for the Andaz, because it was that good. I also feel that I would have regretted staying two nights since I was able to get enough of an experience during my one night stay.

So I turn this to you. Have you ever sacrificed luxury to save money/points? Do you seek the most luxurious hotel when traveling or the best money/points value? Also,how much luxury is too much?


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5 COMMENTS

  1. Reality checks are good sometimes. This hobby affords an awesome travel lifestyle, but as you point out some of the best memories are made in sleeping bags, than 400threadcount sheets. So, focus on the people, the fun, the location. And of course weave Hyatt Diamond breakfasts in at all turns.

  2. Thought provoking. My2cents are that the main purpose of loyalty programs is the ability to get better pricing from customers. The consumers think they are winning but it is really the corporations that win.

    I am a Ritz Gold member (thanks to the CC). They throw in 3 upgrade vouchers every year, etc. But the rooms are at least 2x of similar hotels that are 1 notch lower. I think I am winning here but it’s really Ritz that wins in the long run.

    If you are an astute traveler, you are doing better than the 99% and when you do exceptionally well on a deal, all that means that all you did was make it easier for the hotel or the airlines to charge the 99% better pricing!!

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