8 Affordable Hotels That Look Way More Expensive Than They Are

Want to book a gorgeous hotel for your next vacation? You don't have to skimp on style if you want to ring in under budget—the beauties ahead only look like a million bucks.

When you're leafing through a glossy travel magazine or scrolling hotel accounts on Instagram, it's easy to assume every in-room fireplace or artisanal breakfast service comes with a thousand-dollar price tag. But it ain't so; these days, some of the most glam hotels across the United States offer up seriously luxe amenities—from free high-end wines to beachfront yoga sessions to private outdoor bathtubs—all included in nightly room rates you'll be surprised to learn are worlds away from a grand. You just have to know where to look. Well, that and you need to get smart about timing your hotel booking (i.e., avoid major holidays, book weekdays when possible) in order to snag the best deals on hotels that look and feel expensive.

The Alton Hotel Lobby in SF

Ahead, we've rounded up on-trend hotels across the country that radiate glamour and sophistication—from southern charm in Savannah to Scandinavian-inspired design in Minnesota. But don't worry; these beauties only look like a million bucks.

01 of 08

The Thompson in Savannah, Georgia

This design-forward hotel is a new icon in possibly the chicest Southern city around. Art-filled and more diverse than its similarly well-dressed sister city, Charleston, Savannah is a boon for travelers looking for that perfect combination of elevated style, no-fuss accessibility, and warm Southern hospitality. This rings true throughout the town but perhaps nowhere more so than at the Thompson Savannah, which can feel like you're staying within an art gallery (created by boutique design firm Studio 11 Design) that also happens to have a pool and multiple phenomenal restaurants—all for as low as $170 per night.

Said restaurants, Fleeting off the lobby and Bar Julian with its expansive rooftop views of Savannah, are both helmed by chef Rob Newton, who is an absolute wizard when it comes to melding local ingredients—from traditional Southern grains to a dozen different kinds of Georgia citrus—in truly unexpected ways. If you're especially lucky, Newton's Fleeting menu du jour may be offering an Atlantic wreckfish that has been hung to age for days prior to meeting your plate. Order it; you won't regret it.

02 of 08

The Russell in Nashville, Tennessee

It's hard to believe you can stay in this marvel within trendy East Nashville for just $150 per night. But The Russell, a boutique hotel within a renovated old church, merges a kind of modern, color-popping design with the building's original architecture—including breathtaking stained glass windows—for a hotel effect that's truly unprecedented. Other preserved ecclesiastical details include original brick walls and church pews as bed headboards. Each of the boutique hotel's 23 rooms has a unique design, but you really can't go wrong with any selection.

The Russell is within walking distance of East Nashville's hopping (but not, you know, Broadway-level hopping, thankfully) Five Points neighborhood, so you'll have plenty of renowned drinking and dining options—from Cafe Margot to Lockeland Table to local go-to Five Points Pizza. Or take a quick drive down Main Street, hit up The Bookshop for the most well-curated selection in the South, and pop next door to Peninsula to score the stealth-best meal in the city. Don't tell Broadway.

But best of all? The Russell donates proceeds from all of its hotel bookings to support Nashvillians currently experiencing homelessness; according to the hotel team's data, the average Russell stay funds 16 beds/meals at a local homeless shelter. The hotel is also currently running a winter promo for 20 percent off, so run, don't walk, to make that booking.

03 of 08

Isla Bella Resort in Knights Key, Florida

Why shell out to go to Greece—or even to the closer but still wildly expensive beauty that is Alys Beach, Fla.—when you can get the best vibes of the Mediterranean and Caribbean beaches combined, all for a $35 flight on Allegiant to the Florida Keys? Isla Bella is the epitome of simple luxury; its white-roofed design and turquoise waters make you feel like you could be in any paradise—from Mexico to Santorini.

The property's tropical splendor is what makes its $287 starting rate a steal, especially when you look at the daily list of activities that rate includes, at no extra charge: yoga lessons right on the beach, biking and kayaking, guided games and crafts for kids, marine biology classes with local experts, and more.

04 of 08

The Lodge at Sonoma, California

This is the most high-end hotel on this list, but with deals as low as $369 on TripAdvisor right now, we just had to include it for the bargain that it is. Plus, if you book now for a stay of four or more nights, you can access The Lodge's current 25 percent off promotion—only valid on stays before April 2022.

If you're unfamiliar with Sonoma, know that it's already a bit more low-key than its highfalutin (and $$$$) wine country neighbor, Napa, without making any sacrifices when it comes to quality—of amenities, wine, you name it. The Lodge is about a 25-minute walk or a four-minute drive from the historic Sonoma Plaza (the hotel provides a shuttle to the Plaza daily at no additional charge). There, you can visit cute local shops, wineries, and eateries; in the latter category, do not leave town without visiting the classic that is The Girl and The Fig, which has been making its flawless flounder meunière the exact same way for nearly a decade. (If you're lucky enough to get the wildly entertaining Geoffrey as your server, you'll definitely never want to leave.)

Back at The Lodge, you can post up poolside, access a full menu of services at the spa, dive into a stellar dinner at chef Michael Mina's storied on-site restaurant Wit and Wisdom, or just kick back in your luxe room—especially if you booked one with a private outdoor soaking tub. Don't worry, bath salts are provided.

05 of 08

Kimpton Alton in San Francisco

And speaking of tubs: For a bathtub like this—plus in-room record players, curated vinyl collections, free (delicious) wine and coffee on the daily, and more—you'd think you would need to pay the big bucks. But believe it or not, you can stay at the impeccably appointed Kimpton Alton for $180 per night.

The hotel is just steps away from San Francisco's storied Fisherman's Wharf; get your complimentary coffee in the hotel lobby, buy a sourdough croissant down the block at Boudin, and take a morning stroll through the misty Fort Mason Park. As for dinner, the Alton's on-site restaurant, ABACÁ, offers Filipino-Californian fusion cuisine, and San Francisco's iconic Chinatown is just a short walk away if you really want to dive into some spicy Szechuan.

One of the best parts of staying at a Kimpton—other than the boutique chain's delightful hotel book clubs—is the nightly wine hour, with complimentary pours from local and international wineries alike. Hopefully Leif will be your manager-cum-wine-pourer on duty; if so, he will undoubtedly regale you with his thrilling tales of Old San Francisco. Besides, what better place to get your free wine on than Northern California?

06 of 08

The Graham & Co. in Phoenicia, New York

Graceful simplicity is the name of the game at this upstate New York gem in a renovated old motel. The Graham and Co. is a favorite of New Yorkers looking to escape the city and take in all that Phoenicia, N.Y. has to offer—from hikes in the Catskills to river tubing to great food at local icons like the Phoenicia Diner.

Staying at The Graham comes with plenty of perks—from free beers on arrival to breakfast on weekends to all-day coffee service to complimentary bike rentals to retro radios in every room. Book a room for an affordable $155—or if you're traveling with one pal, get the best deal around in the hotel's bunkbed rooms for just $99.

07 of 08

Hotel Alma in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Hotel Alma is urban sophistication at its finest—and a foodie paradise to boot. The hotel, which was designed by Spring Finn & Co., feels like you get to nod off in the most peaceful possible corner of some Scandinavian design museum you never knew you'd love so much. It's Minneapolis' very first boutique hotel-restaurant-cafe, and the seven perfect rooms are nestled above the James Beard Award-winning Restaurant Alma, walking distance from the Mississippi riverfront.

For $250 per night, you get your own little corner of style heaven, handmade bath products by a local apothecary, sommelier-selected wine and antipasti upon arrival, and house-baked breakfast every morning. Talk about bang for your buck.

08 of 08

Hotel Figueroa in Los Angeles, California

Stay at the completely renovated old-school Los Angeles hotel, now locally nicknamed "The Fig," and you will be baffled at the knowledge that you are not, in fact, relaxing poolside in a secret garden in Marrakech. But while Hotel Figueroa's aesthetic—particularly the surprising urban oasis that houses its glamorous pool—nods to the Moroccan, its history is firmly rooted in downtown Los Angeles.

The hotel, now part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt, began its life in 1926 as a women-only hostel—at a time when such safe spaces for women travelers were rare—and has been up and running ever since. These days, the on-site lobby gallery and featured artist suite alike showcase a rotating cast of LA's top female talent in the visual arts. And did we mention you can be a part of it all starting at just $184 per night?

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles