Do You Really Get What You Pay for at Luxury Hotels?

Beautiful couple dining in luxury hotel restaurant stock photo
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People are traveling again — and they’re putting lots of cash into their experiences. Now that the pandemic has somewhat eased restrictions for out-of-state or out-of-country trips, many are clamoring to hit the road in style.

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In fact, the sector of luxury travel — defined by Travel Daily Media as enjoying trips focused on comfort and quality with no stress or hassle — has grown significantly in just the past few years. According to Allied Market Research, in 2019 the sector was valued at $945.6 billion and is expected to steadily grow by 11% year-over-year through 2027, when it is estimated to bring in nearly $1.2 trillion.

As GOBankingRates has previously reported, some have planned million-dollar vacations, tapping into private jets, supersized chartered yachts, exclusive tours of Buckingham Palace and even intergalactic trips to the moon. While those are lofty dreams for many people, luxury hotels are a bit more doable. But do you really get everything you pay for when booking a room at one of these ritzy spots?

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The Points Guy recently looked into what the future of luxury hotels might offer — and all trends show that limited service seems to be the way they are headed. Not just as a cost-saving measure, but one that aligns with sustainability and technological trends.

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For example, if you’ve traveled recently, you might have noticed that most hotels have done away with mandatory daily cleanings of guest rooms, rather going for an opt-in model where you can request the service. As well, those high-end toiletries that you might get in a pricier hotel (and maybe stuff into your bag to take home) are likely not going to be individually sized moving forward as properties opt for eco-friendly wall-mounted dispensers. 

The Points Guy also gave an example of famed hotelier Ian Schrager, behind lush boutique brand PUBLIC Hotels, who recently hinted an upcoming expansion might rely less on human staff and more on technology for things like checking in and out — as well as potential onsite restaurant service that utilizes kiosk-type systems for ordering and retrieval rather than human waitstaff. A big part of this expected shift comes as a result of labor costs and shortages that many industries, especially hospitality, are experiencing.

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The question, then: Are luxury hotels really worth it if they are moving towards models that many non-upscale properties employ? And if there’s no staff to wait on guests who book rooms for thousands of dollars every night, can it still be considered luxury?

Yes, you still will get sweeping vista views, incredible onsite spas and pools with cabanas at most places that tag themselves as luxury properties. However, at a time when these high-end options are climbing in price (and more affordable options are gaining leverage as part of a competitive market), it’s something to consider.

Luxury Hotels, Resorts Could Switch to Customized or Personalized Service

That’s especially true since luxury hotels are more expensive than ever. According to Bernstein Research, cited by The Points Guy, these accommodations are, on average, now 25% more costly than they were in 2019.

Per Travel Update, 5-star hotels can be overrated, noting “they nickel and dime you for everything.” Extras such as parking, resort fees, overpriced meals and amenity costs can match the price of a one-night stay.

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To that point, The Points Guy shared that the very definition of luxury may change in the future. Whereas prime service was once the be-all and end-all, soon luxury service could be defined by customization and personalization. Think handwritten notes, or figuring out what the guest likes and adding it to the room (maybe Alexa preloaded with all their favorite songs, for example). As the article surmises, luxury really is different to every person — and it’s something hotels will have to grapple with as tastes and markets change.

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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined GOBankingRates.com in 2022, adding to her 15 years in journalism with bylines in Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The A.V. Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her rescue pets and is working on a debut historical fiction novel about WWII. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.
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