5-Star Hotels Are Surprisingly Affordable in These Great Vacation Spots

You'll find 5-star hotels for 3-star prices in these cities.

With the average booking price for 5-star hotels reaching a high $431 a night in 2018, it might seem like you’ll never be able to afford to stay in a luxury hotel. However, you can find amazing deals for 5-star hotels in several beautiful destinations.

Hipmunk analyzed hotels across the country to determine which destinations offer the best bang for your buck in terms of luxury properties. So here are our favorite places to score 5-star hotels at a 3-star price, as well as some examples of hotels that fall within the price range on various travel websites. Keep in mind all prices for specific 5-star hotels mentioned are according to the travel websites’ grading system, and prices are subject to change at any time.

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Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
bennymarty / iStock.com

1. Waikiki, Honolulu

  • Median booking price for 5-star hotels: $241
  • Example of a 5-star hotel in Waikiki in a similar or lower price range: Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach ($246/night via Expedia)

One of the world’s most famous archipelagos, Hawaii is generally assumed to be a pricey destination for its remoteness alone. But there are ways to penny pinch, even in paradise. When browsing through Honolulu hotels online, you should be able to find 5-star accommodations in the Waikiki neighborhood for around $241.

For lower hotel rates, try to schedule your trip to Honolulu between mid-April and June, or between September and mid-December. According to U.S. News, those windows are when airfare and hotel rates are at their lowest.

Cheap and free things to do in Honolulu: You can save money in Honolulu by taking advantage of its best free attractions: the beaches and those beautiful sunsets. Also, ditch the rental car. Oahu has a robust public transportation network that runs from Waikiki all the way to the North Shore. But for a more fun way to get around Honolulu, ride a bike. The Biki bike share program is a great way to see the island and will set you back just $3.50 a ride.

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ImagineGolf / Getty Images

2. Las Vegas

  • Median booking price for 5-star hotels: $250
  • Example of a 5-star hotel in Las Vegas in a similar or lower price range: Bellagio Towers ($244/night via Hipmunk)

Known for its glitz and glam, Las Vegas is a place you can drop a lot of dough on show tickets, restaurants and the blackjack tables. And Las Vegas hotels aren’t cheap. However, Hipmunk found that 5-star hotels in Las Vegas have a median booking price of only $250. Plus, Sin City is actually the No. 3 best travel destination for your money, found a previous GOBankingRates study.

You’ll find cheaper room rates if you book a trip to Las Vegas between Tuesday and Thursday. Room rates are typically higher on the weekends because Las Vegas is a popular weekend getaway destination, reports U.S. News.

Cheap and free things to do in Las Vegas: You can save even more money by taking advantage of the city’s free attractions. You just need to know where to look. Right on the Strip, there are plenty of selfie spots from the Bellagio fountain to the volcano at the Mirage and the wildlife habitat at the Flamingo.

Head to Fremont Street (in old Vegas), and you can catch street performers and outdoor summer concerts. Past headliners over the years have included major artists like 3 Doors Down, Bret Michaels and Melissa Etheridge.

If nothing else, the alcohol in the casinos are typically complimentary for those gambling — just be sure to stick to the penny slots.

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3. Palm Springs, California

  • Median booking price for 5-star hotels: $284
  • Example of a 5-star hotel in Palm Springs in a similar or lower price range: Desert Riviera Hotel ($240/night via Hipmunk)

Palm Springs is generally a playground for the rich and famous. But you don’t have to be an A-lister to enjoy a 5-star hotel — the median booking price for luxury hotels is $284.

If you want to visit Palm Springs when hotels are cheaper, go between October and December. Not only will you find better rates on hotel rooms, but there will be fewer visitors during this time and the temperature ranges from the upper 60s to the high 80s, according to U.S. News. 

Cheap and free things to do in Palm Springs: An oasis for hikers and nature enthusiasts, Palm Springs’ surrounding areas boasts beautiful free outdoor spaces like Shields Date Garden in Indio, Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden in Palm Desert and Fritz Burns Park in La Quinta.

But if you’d prefer to stay in town, you can make a self-guided tour of the boutiques and vintage shops, famed mid-century modern architectural gems and charming windmills. And if you truly want to feel like a VIP, walk in the footsteps of your favorite A-listers on the Walk of Stars.

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aerial view of Portland Oregon

4. Portland, Oregon

  • Median booking price for 5-star hotels: $295
  • Example of a 5-star hotel in Portland in a similar or lower price range: Sentinel Hotel ($156/night via Hipmunk)

An underrated travel destination, Portland has a lot to offer visitors. In fact, it was named one of the best travel destinations for your money by GOBankingRates. And thankfully, booking a 5-star hotel room is more affordable than you think at only $295 a night.

The cheapest time to visit Portland and find bargains on hotels is during the winter, according to U.S. News. If you plan to visit in the summer, it’s recommended that you book several months in advance for the best hotel rates.

Cheap and free things to do in Portland: In Portland, weird doesn’t have to mean expensive. There are plenty of free and nearly free attractions every night of the week — from comedy shows to musical performances and even movies under $10. Check out the nonprofit Curious Comedy Theater, LaurelThirst Public House and Shakespeare in the Park during the summer.

If you enjoy beer, some breweries offer complimentary tastings and tours, and you don’t need to fork over tons of cash on the dining scene. Known for its legendary food truck pods, make your own mobile meal or tapas crawl as you savor your way through the city.

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Sunset in Sonoran Desert near Phoenix Arizona
Sunset in Sonoran Desert, near Phoenix.
tonda / Getty Images/iStockphoto

5. Phoenix

  • Median booking price for 5-star hotels: $324
  • Example of a 5-star hotel in Phoenix in a similar price range: Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort ($293/night via Booking.com)

Another underrated travel destination, Phoenix has a lot to offer travelers who crave a little luxury and pampering during their stay. Phoenix hotels with a 5-star rating are still cheaper than the U.S. average at $324. It was also named one of the best travel destinations for your money in 2019.

You’ll find lower hotel rates and package deals if you visit Phoenix between May and October, according to U.S. News. Avoid visiting between November and April, when visitors escaping the cold will flock to Phoenix for its warm weather.

Cheap and free things to do in Phoenix: A prime place to escape the cold and freezing temperatures, Phoenix is extra attractive in the winter when the weather is prime for outdoor explorations. Enjoy the hikes in the deserts, take a wildflower walk, or cool off at one of the splash pads around the city.

The local museums have free days throughout the month, but you can also make a self-guided street art tour or window shop at the designer boutiques any time of the year.

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All prices for specific 5-star hotels mentioned in this article are accurate as of March 1, 2019. All 5-star ratings are according to the travel websites’ grading system and prices are subject to change at any time.