Cheap Airbnbs, free campsites, and sleepless nights crammed in cars in Walmart parking lots used to be the norm for me. Because when it comes to travel, I typically prioritize experiences over accommodations in order to stretch my money to get to faraway places.
But over the last year and a half, I was finally in a position to pivot away from that strategy for the first time, and got a taste of what it's like to travel lavishly in luxury hotels.
My introduction to luxury started during a train trip to Miami in October 2021. I paid $864 to spend one night in the iconic Villa Casa Casuarina, a luxury boutique hotel with only 12 rooms known as the Versace Mansion as it was once home to the late fashion designer, Gianni Versace. The hotel caters to celebrities like the Kardashians, according to People magazine. It was my first experience at a luxury hotel, and once I experienced this level of service, it left me craving more upscale stays.
So in August 2022, when I took a train trip to Canada, I decided to spend $500 for one night at the Vogue Hotel in downtown Montreal, Canada, which is part of Hilton's Curio Collection, a selection of upscale hotels by the brand, according to the hotel's website.
Just a few days later, I spent $600 on a one-night stay at the historic, castle-like Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Québec City, Canada, where prominent figures like Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Alfred Hitchcock, and Queen Elizabeth II have stayed, according to AFAR Magazine. It also claims to be the most photographed in the world, the same source reports.
And recently, during another train trip through four European countries in October 2022, I paid $1,100 to spend one night at the Bulgari Hotel and Spa, which is the Italian jeweler Bulgari's boutique hotel in Milan. With returning celebrity guests like Sting, Travel and Leisure called it one of the most fashionable hotels in Italy.
These luxury hotel stays came with many unexpected surprises that convinced me that the added comforts and better rest they provide improve my travel experiences — and will make it quite hard to ever go back to sleeping in a tent.