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Staying at a fabulous luxury hotel like a Park Hyatt, St. Regis or Waldorf Astoria can cost well over $1,000 a night in destinations such as New York City, Paris or the Maldives. While redeeming hotel points can certainly save you money on such stays, award rates can also skyrocket to well over 100,000 points per night, depending on the loyalty program and the type of room or suite you book.
There are certain destinations around the world, however, where staying at the aforementioned top-tier brands comes a lot cheaper, both in terms of paid and points rates. Whereas nights at a resort like the new Waldorf Astoria Maldives currently start around $1,400 or 120,000 points, you can visit pandas and stay at the Waldorf Astoria in Chendgu, China, for $154, or 25,000 points per night.
Granted, that’s not quite comparing apples to apples since one is an all-new resort in a world-class vacation destination and the other is a bustling city in mainland China. But considering offbeat destinations can be a great way to experience some of the major hotel chains’ luxury brands without burning through too many points or too much cash.
Here, we take a look at some of cities around the world that each have a selection of luxury hotels where you don’t need nearly as many points for awards as you might in more in-demand destinations. We’ll also include paid rates since in many places where rates are almost preposterously low, it might make sense to pay in cash instead of points. Have some ideas for cheap luxury hotel stays of your own? Share them in the comments below.
The capital of the United Arab Emirates is the hub of Etihad and about an hour’s drive from Dubai International Airport (DXB), from which Emirates flies to destinations all over the world. All that makes Abu Dhabi a natural stopover on long-haul journeys. The city has several points of interest including the monumental Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the Louvre Abu Dhabi, but visitors can also relax at its many beach resorts.
The city is also home to a plethora of points hotels, including a handful of inexpensive luxury properties. Hyatt is well represented: there’s the Andaz Capital Gate, Abu Dhabi, with rooms starting at $130 or 8,000 points. However, the standout option is the beachfront Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas, where award nights are 25,000 points each, but paid rates range from $254 to over $800 per night, so you can really stretch your value there. Compare that to other Park Hyatts like the one in Sydney, where award rates (if they’re even available) are 30,000 points and paid rates start around $900 per night.
The InterContinental Abu Dhabi has rooms for 35,000 points or $112 per night. Meanwhile, if you have Marriott Bonvoy points, you’re in luck. The new Abu Dhabi Edition has rooms starting at $170, or 32,500 points, while the St. Regis Abu Dhabi starts around $250 per night, or 35,000 points.
At the Fairmont Bab al Bahr, meanwhile, rates start at $143 this spring. You can redeem Le Club AccorHotels points for €40 ($45.50) off per 2,000 points to bring those prices even lower.
Most folks just pass through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL) on their way to destinations farther afield thanks to Delta’s extensive route network out of the hub. But the so-called Athens of the South is a fantastic place to visit thanks to landmarks like the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium and the High Museum of Art.
It’s also a great city to use your points thanks to the cornucopia of hotels where you can redeem them, especially if they are Marriott Bonvoy points. The W Atlanta Downtown, W Atlanta Midtown and W Atlanta Buckhead all have room rates that range from around $200 to $400, but require just 35,000 points per night. The JW Marriott Atlanta Buckhead also costs 35,000 points and has room rates starting at 35,000 points. The Whitley, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Atlanta Buckhead is, you guessed it, 35,000 points per night, or $381 — a fantastic saving potential.
Though the recently opened Waldorf Astoria is expensive and has award rates between 65,000 and 80,000 points per night, Hilton Honors members can enjoy luxury for far less at the Conrad Bangkok, where rates are just $142, or 40,000 points. With World of Hyatt, you need just 12,000 points or $185 to stay at the Grand Hyatt Erawan, or 20,000 points or $228 for the Park Hyatt Bangkok.
In Bangkok, 25,000 Marriott Bonvoy points will get you an award night at the JW Marriott Hotel Bangkok ($176), the W Bangkok ($172), or The Athénée, a Luxury Collection Hotel ($203). The St. Regis Bangkok starts around $280 per night or 35,000 points.
If you’ve taken advantage of any of the incredible airfare deals or award sales to China we’ve seen pop up, you might find yourself with a few days to spare in Beijing. If that’s the case, fear not — your points will go a long way toward free stays at some of the city’s nicest hotels.
The Conrad Beijing is available to Hilton Honors members for rates starting at $150 or 35,000 points per night. World of Hyatt members can book the Grand Hyatt Beijing for 15,000 or $172, or the Park Hyatt Beijing for $191 or 20,000 points.
Marriott Bonvoy members have a dizzying number of options including the St. Regis Beijing for $196 or 35,000 points; the Ritz-Carlton, Beijing Financial Street for $289 or 35,000 points; and the Ritz-Carlton, Beijing for 32,500 to 35,000 points or $245.
Don’t forget about Le Club AccorHotels points when traveling to Beijing. You can redeem them at a rate of 2,000 for €40 ($45.50) off your bill at hotels including the Fairmont Beijing, where room rates in March start at just $128.
Tourism to Egypt — one of the world’s all-time great destinations thanks to sights like the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Sphinx — is on the rebound, making it one of our top places to visit in 2019. Cairo also happens to be accessible with cheap airfare deals and comparatively affordable luxury points hotels.
Rates at the Conrad Cairo, for example, start at 30,000 Hilton Honors points or $140.
When it opens in June, the St. Regis Cairo will have rooms for 35,000 points. Until then, you can book the JW Marriott Cairo for 25,000 points or $110, or the Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo for 35,000 points or $196.
Meanwhile, the Fairmont Nile City is a good option if you have Le Club AccorHotels points. You can redeem them at a rate of 2,000 for €40 ($45.50) toward your bill. Considering rooms at this Fairmont also start at $128 this spring, you won’t need many points for free nights.
Although many travelers simply come here for a night so they can see the great pandas, the city of Chengdu itself is also fun for a quick visit thanks to the spicy cuisine, charming teahouses and shopping streets like the Wide and Narrow Alley.
The Waldorf Astoria Chengdu has award rates that start at 36,000 points per night or $148.
The InterContinental Century City Chengdu has rooms for $137 or 35,000 points, while rates at the Fairmont Chengdu start at a mere $123, which you can lower further by redeeming some Le Club AccorHotels points toward your purchase.
Whether or not Istanbul’s new airport actually finally opens in April, you might still want to pay a visit to this ancient city to cruise the Bosphorus, visit Topkapi Palace and have a detoxing hammam session. And you can enjoy a luxurious stay, too, without totally depleting your points stash.
The gorgeous Conrad Istanbul Bosphorus has rates starting as low as 29,000 points or $108 in March.
And don’t forget about Wyndham Rewards. The Wyndham Grand Istanbul Levent has rates starting at $131 or 15,000 points. The Fairmont Quasar Istanbul has rates as low as $135 per night toward which you can redeem Le Club AccorHotels points.
Within the Marriott portfolio, 35,000 points will earn you an award night at either the Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul ($192), or the St. Regis Istanbul ($251). You only need 25,000 points or $110 for a night at the W Istanbul.
If you’re curious about the live concerts Garuda Indonesia is planning to have on board some of its flights, it might be time to book a trip to Jakarta so you can experience one for yourself. The good news is the Indonesian capital has a surprisingly robust luxury hotel scene. It’s also an easy stopover on the way to Bali.
Hilton members will have to wait until 2020 for the Waldorf Astoria Jakarta and 2022 for the Conrad Jakarta.
However, you can book the Fairmont Jakarta for as little as $195 per night and redeem Le Club AccorHotels points toward the stay. Once the Park Hyatt Jakarta opens later this year, it should cost just 15,000 points per night. In the meantime, you can book the Grand Hyatt Jakarta for $128 or 12,000 points.
The new InterContinental Jakarta Pondok Indah costs 35,000 points or $135 per night.
If you have Marriott points, you’ll need just 25,000 of them for a stay at either the JW Marriott Jakarta ($99) or the Hermitage, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel ($87). For 35,000 points, you can book an award night at either the Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Pacific Place ($175), or the Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Mega Kuningan ($94).
Argentina’s wine capital has a few distinctive mid-level hotels that are great values in terms of points redemptions. You can spend your days out tasting wines at the phenomenal fincas and bodegas in the surrounding region, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and hiking, then relax back in town at one of these options.
The Sheraton Mendoza will cost you 17,500 points per night or $132. If you want to venture out into the Uco Valley winegrowing region, meanwhile, you can score rooms as cheaply as $112 or 25,000 points at the Auberge du Vin, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Tupungato.
Mexico City is having a moment. The metropolis was a 2018 World Design Capital. Chefs have set the city’s dining scene ablaze and its art museums and galleries are the focus of new attention. So if you were inspired by the Oscar-winning film Roma, now is the time to visit.
Plan a quick jaunt down there, where your IHG Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy points will come in handy. The InterContinental Presidente Santa Fe Mexico ($170) InterContinental Presidente Mexico City ($128) both cost just 25,000 points per night.
Within the Marriott family, meanwhile, you could book the Distrito Capital, Mexico City, a member of Design Hotels for $115 or 25,000 points per night. Spend 10,000 more points and you could stay at two other Design Hotels properties, the Condesa df ($240), or the Habita ($160); or at the JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City ($264), or the W Mexico City ($151).
There are some truly beautiful luxury hotels in various cities around the world where both paid and award rates are a pittance compared to what you have to spend in more popular destinations. These are some of the best opportunities where your points can stretch your budget even further. Always double check paid rates, though. You can often find tremendous deals that make paying a low cash rates a better idea than redeeming points, especially if your stay will help you earn points for awards elsewhere.
Featured image photo courtesy of W Bangkok.
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