If you want to cut costs on vacation, cooking in your hotel room versus going out to eat may seem like a logical step. But you will need a kitchen to cook food in the hotel room. And as it turns out, hotel rooms with kitchenettes usually cost more than similar hotels without them.
A NerdWallet analysis of nearly 100 hotel rooms around the US found that hotel rooms with full kitchens are on average 19% more expensive (that’s about $28 more per night) than rooms at the same hotel company in the same area of the same quality. ) Kitchen
NerdWallet defines hotels with kitchenettes as those with at least a stovetop, microwave, and refrigerator, as well as in-room cooking equipment, or available at no additional cost upon request. Hotels that only had a small kitchen (such as a microwave, sink, and small fridge) were not considered kitchens. The analysis looked at hotels in the 10 largest US cities by population on the same check-in day. And 80% of the time, rooms with kitchenettes were more expensive than their similar kitchenless counterparts.
Conclusion of our hotel room kitchen cost analysis
We compared Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and Marriott brands in the analysis. Here’s how much more expensive they were in dollars.
Average cost increase for hotels with no kitchenettes vs. hotels
Homewood Suites by Hilton.
Fairfield Inn & Suites.
Of course, kitchen versus no kitchen isn’t the only distinguishing factor. For example, Hyatt houses, in addition to offering kitchenettes in their suite-style rooms, also typically offer laundry facilities and outdoor grills that you wouldn’t normally find at Hyatt Place.
Likewise, Homewood Suites typically have a separate living room in each room, and sometimes the venues offer a complimentary evening happy hour. Those amenities can also play into the increase of the Hilton Garden Inn versus its average $41 price per night.
But in almost every scenario, the property with the kitchen still turned out to be more expensive than a nearby property, similar to a kitchen from the same company. If you’re booking a hotel room exclusively with kitchenette, expect to pay more.
Why Hotel Room Kitchens Can’t Save You Money
OnePoll’s survey of 2,000 Americans in January 2022, which was commissioned by Hilton, found that 73% of commuters cite unexpected food costs as a major pain point on the road.
And it’s true; Food accounts for a significant portion of most holiday budgets.
According to an analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics based on consumer spending data, food accounted for 20% of travel expenses in 2019. In 2020, 23% of travel expenses were equally attributable to food (probably because transportation expenses, such as airfares, dropped significantly that year).
But hospitality consultant Colleen Carswell warns that hotel kitchens often prove to be a deceptive advantage for most travelers.
“They often result in more stress when you don’t have all the kitchen amenities you thought you would,” she says. “Missing enough fork openers to cook everything in a single pasta pot, hotel kitchens can quickly become a drain instead of the experience you were hoping for.”
In return, she says that travelers have to dine in a restaurant anyway.
She said that because very few hotels offer in-room kitchens (she estimates that about 26% of hotels offer kitchenettes), your hotel booking options are limited, potentially leading you to stay in a less-desirable location, or forced to sacrifice other facilities.
Better Ways to Save Money on Food While Traveling
For travelers who are comfortable cooking outdoors, or who have dietary restrictions, using a hotel kitchen can not only save money, but can also be a significant benefit.
But for travelers looking to save money, there are other avenues that don’t involve eating out.
Prefer a Free Breakfast Instead
The free, hot breakfast can help you avoid restaurant bills while also eliminating the need to buy groceries. Plus, you won’t have to worry about cooking and cleaning, especially when you should be relaxing on vacation.
Plan meals that require minimal preparation
For meals later in the day, you can still skip the expensive restaurant without needing a full kitchen. Carswell, who plans meals requiring only a microwave, mini-fridge, and a daily food budget of $10 per person, tends toward meals that can easily be prepared in a hotel room. She recommends salads, sandwiches made with shredded cheese and lunch meat, or nachos made with shredded cheese and canned vegetables and beans.
hold elite status
Some hotels offer dining credit or lounge access when you have elite status. For example, Hilton offers daily food and beverage credits to Hilton Honors members with Gold or Diamond Elite status at most properties. The amount varies by location and brand but can be as high as $50 per room. Members with Diamond Elite status, which is automatically granted to cardholders of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, also have access to the Executive Lounge. Not all Hilton properties have an executive lounge, and the quality varies among those that do, but most offer drinks and snacks throughout the day, as well as cocktail hour in the evening.
Similarly, those with Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status can receive a free breakfast at Marriott hotels.
Spring for Airport Lounge Membership
Like hotel lounges, the quality of food varies, but the best lounges offer enough food for a full meal. Some airlines sell annual memberships to their lounges, which may be worth it for frequent travelers (for example United Airlines sells United Club memberships for $650). But you may not even have to pay for it. Many United credit cards offer United Club access as a benefit. Plus, the card’s annual fees are generally less than the standalone membership cost.
Sure, some travelers make excellent hotel kitchen chefs, and — with careful planning — can save money by exchanging food out for a grocery run. But be realistic about yourself as to whether you’ll actually be inspired to cook and clean in a hotel kitchen that’s less than your own at home. After all, you probably went on vacation with the aim of relaxing while not working too much.
All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.
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