Holidaymakers hoping to make the most of a long weekend away this bank holiday may find it’s actually cheaper to opt for a five star hotel, an investigation has found.
Travel money provider FairFX compared the average price of a one-night stay (on 25 August) in 10 European cities based on each star category. It found that savvy holidaymakers could actually save money by staying in the highest levels of accommodation.
The cities investigated were London, Paris, Barcelona, Prague, Amsterdam, Rome, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Lisbon exactly two weeks before the August Bank Holiday weekend.
Best value destinations for a five star hotel
It found Berlin to be the cheapest destination for a night in a 5* hotel, where visitors to the German capital could enjoy a stay at a top-rated hotel for an average of £51 per night – less than half the price of the same rated stay in Paris, and cheaper than a 4* night in a hotel in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome and the French Capital.
Most expensive destinations for a 3 star hotel
In Amsterdam, the average cost of a 3* hotel came in at £94 – more expensive than the average cost of a higher rated 4* or even 5* hotel in the same city, meaning holidaymakers opting for a lower-star rating to save money could be paying more than they would for a more luxurious stay.
Places where it’s actually cheaper to swap 3 stars for 4 stars
In Barcelona, the average cost for a night at a 3* hotel came in at £160, more than double the cost of the average night in a 5* hotel in the city, and five times more expensive than a night in the same rated hotel in Vienna.
The research – conducted using Lastminute.com data – revealed that Brits staying closer to home in London this bank holiday would pay more for a 4* stay than a night in a 5* hotel in Lisbon and Budapest where they could take in a new culture and sights.
meanwhile, the difference in price between 2* and 5* hotels in popular tourist destinations can be minimal. In Amsterdam, for example, there is just £2 difference between the average cost of a 2* hotel and 5* hotel. In Berlin, the difference between 2* and 5* is £8, while in Barcelona it’s £11.
“Our research shows that people hoping to enjoy the bank holiday getaway this weekend will do well to shop around before picking their hotel, as going lower-star doesn’t necessarily mean they will get a lower-price,” explained Ian Strafford-Taylor, at FairFX.
“Of course, different cities offer different experiences in terms of culture and sight-seeing but doing your research could mean you get to enjoy luxury accommodation for less and discover new places along the way.
“Many people will be looking to take advantage of flight ‘sales’ so it’s worth looking into the cost of accommodation too, to save more money and really cash in on the final bank holiday of the year. And as always, holidaymakers should follow our top currency tips to avoid getting stung by any dirty travel money traps at the airport and when they’re away.”
Top tips for getting the best value travel money
Track currency: Keep a close eye on currency movements to help you buy at the optimum time. Set up a currency tracker which will alert you to good rates for you to take advantage of.
Lock-in rates: If you know you’re travelling later in the year, make sure you plan ahead. Pre-load a prepaid currency card to lock in rates and protect yourself from any potential future decline. If you’re happy with the current rate on offer, buy your currency now to guarantee that rate for your future holiday.
Buy wisely: Don’t leave changing your travel money until the last minute. Exchange rates at airports can be over 20% more expensive meaning you could lose over £100 of cash for every £1,000 you change.
Cards: Debit and credit cards are good backups but beware of ATM and transaction fees as well as what exchange rate you’ll be forced to use. Instead, use a specialist currency card or a card designed for overseas spending such as the FairFX Card which is free to use in shops and restaurants.
Always use local currency: If you have the option of paying by card – or withdrawing cash – in pounds rather than the local currency, always say no. This allows the other party to decide the exchange rate,a process known as Dynamic Currency Conversion, and it’s unlikely the rate they decide on will be in your favour. A recent investigation from FairFX found that unsuspecting holidaymakers collectively pay out £490m in currency conversion fees.
For more advice see our guide on how to buy travel money or our explainer on travel money cards, here.