Hi Frugalistas! An important part of my travel philosophy is choosing the right hotel. I know that for some people a hotel is just somewhere to sleep and leave their bags. But not me. I like to make my hotel an integral part of my experience anywhere I visit. I also want the best quality I can afford. Putting together the concepts of a genuine experience of the town, and good value for money means I leave the big chain hotels and the high cost boutique hotels to one side. I want a hotel that is definitely frugal first class. So, how to choose a hotel that means my criteria? Using a trip to Quebec, read on.
How to choose a good hotel location
I like centrally located hotels. It’s what I prefer because I like to be able to walk. I want to be able to walk to key sites. I want to be able to walk to a good choice of restaurants for dinner.
I also like a hotel that is close to public transport so I can get to more distant places quickly and easily. In a bigger city like Montreal being able to catch the Metro is key to making the most of the city. While I could walk anywhere in Old Montreal from LHotel, I appreciated the nearby station for Marches Atwater and Jean Talon.
Sometimes having a view is great. I would never spend the money to stay at a hotel like the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City. But I was very happy to share a pretty square with it. From my room at the Auberge de Tresor I had a perfect view of the most photographed hotel in the world. If you stay there, you miss that view.
How to choose a hotel that suits your budget
This is the easy part. Your budget is your budget. If your desired location is a bit out of your price range can you trim back other expenses to meet your budget? Do you need to compromise on location slightly? Will staying on the edge of your desired area rather than bang smack in the middle of it be more economical while not sacrificing the amenity and vibe you are after?
Use booking sites to compare prices. Then always go to the hotel website. Some hotels will guarantee a cheaper price if you book direct, whereas others will be cheaper on the aggregate booking sites. Also look for options to save money by making an early bird booking, by paying in advance or for staying a certain number of nights. Savings can be everywhere if you look for them and think laterally.
Decide whether booking a big room in a cheaper hotel is actually a better deal than a small room in a more expensive hotel. Is it worth booking a room with a view? At the Auberge du Tresor in Quebec City I was treated to gorgeous view overlooking the Chateau Frontenac. But you need to decide whether booking a room with a view is worth it to you. I loved my view over the Chateau Frontenac, but depending on your location, sometimes rooms with a view come with accompanying noise. It definitely wasn’t an issue at Auberge du Tresor, but remember my hotel in Athens?
Before you book, make sure you understand exactly what the quoted price includes. Is breakfast extra? Is there a city tax that will be added to your final bill? Planning, and if need be asking the right questions will help you make the right choice.
How to choose a hotel with the “feel” you are after
This is a bit trickier. But for me, it’s really the whole point of a frugal first class travel hotel. While you can go by location to some extent, that doesn’t tell the whole story.
While this is very much a personal preference, I love hotels that in some way “represent” or sum up the place I’m visiting. I don’t mind if it’s modern or traditional, but in Montreal I want a hotel that says “yes, Jo, you are in Montreal”. I want the same in Quebec City, Paris, Barcelona, or anywhere else I am visiting for that matter.
At L’Hotel in Montreal despite being in an old building in Old Montreal, my hotel was actually quite funky and modern. Modern art out the front, and in the public areas. I had two Damien Hirst prints in my room. With its old world location, building and furniture, it fitted perfectly into Old Montreal. But with that modern art added to it, to me it summed up Montreal perfectly. Traditional but a bit edgy at the same time.
The Auberge du Tresor in Quebec City was a bit different. One of the oldest buildings in Quebec City, dating back to 1640, it was very traditional. But that’s what I wanted. I wanted a hotel experience that reflected the history of Quebec City as one of the cradles of French settlement and culture in Canada. And that’s what I got, down to the crepes at breakfast, and the oh so French style staircase.
How to choose a hotel that suits your travel style is not difficult. Like everything I talk about within the frugal first class travel philosophy, it’s all about planning, research and being clear about what is important to you and what isn’t. Whether I’m travelling in Europe or anywhere else it’s how I plan any trip, and how I choose any hotel.
Author’s note: I was a guest of Quebec Tourisme during my time in Quebec, including my stay at L’Hotel in Montreal and L’Auberge du Tresor in Quebec City. Both are genuine frugal first class travel hotels that I am happy to recommend to Frugalistas planning a visit to either city.
This post contains affiliate links, so I do earn a small commission if you make a booking from them