3. Opt for an Apartment
Fueled by high demand, Europe’s already steep hotel-room rates rose an average of 5.3 percent last year, with even bigger increases in cities like Moscow (14.9 percent) and London (9.5 percent), according to the latest HotelBenchmark Survey by Deloitte. Vacation apartment rentals may not offer all the amenities of a hotel, but they’re cost-effective, especially for groups or families planning to stay in one place for at least a week (the standard minimum). “The more people you are traveling with, the more it makes sense to rent rather than stay in a hotel,” says Suzanne Pidduck, founder of the Ventura, California–based Rentvillas, which specializes in villas and apartments throughout Europe. “Another advantage: you have a kitchen, so you don’t have to go out for every meal,” Pidduck says. “That’s a huge cost saver.” Janine Safer Whitney, a travel consultant with the New York–based Altour International, pinpoints London as particularly good for rentals. It’s the third most expensive city in Europe for hotels, but because it is a major financial hub, there are plenty of apartments geared toward business travelers, at a wide range of prices. “Ask for an apartment-hotel, where you can get some of the services of a hotel,” advises Safer, who recommends the Athenaeum (44-20/7499-3464; athenaeumhotel.com; apartments from $1,200), a row of Edwardian town houses connected to a hotel with 33 one- or two-bedroom luxury apartments, in the heart of London’s West End.
Apartment vs. Hotel in Paris
Apartment Van Gogh A 580-square-foot one-bedroom apartment in Paris’s Latin Quarter, accommodating up to four, with modern, all-white décor, a queen-size bed, a fully equipped kitchen, high-speed Internet, and cable (Paris Luxe Apartments; 800/708-7659; parisluxeapt.com).
Cost $2,900 a week.
Victoria Palace Hotel A 485-square-foot suite in the Sixth Arrondissement, with Louis XVI–style furnishings, a queen-size bed, a courtyard view, and high-speed Internet (33-1/45-49-70-00; victoriapalace.com).
Cost Up to $950 a night.
4. Ask for a Better Exchange Rate
“There hasn’t been much price erosion in the upper end of the hotel market, but when there’s any downturn in travel demand, one strategy for some hotels has been to offer Americans fixed U.S. dollar rates,” Herff says. “You can book and confirm certain hotels and fix the price at the time of booking.” Such deals are sometimes nonrefundable: “If you don’t show up, you might end up eating that price,” Herff says, “but you can get a significant discount.” Dollar-based promotions are currently offered by select members of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, such as England’s Cotswold House (rooms begin at $430, with a two-night minimum; the rate is good until the end of the year), and at nine Warwick International properties, including the Warwick Barsey Hotel, in Brussels. Starwood’s Welcome to Greece program allows U.S.-based travelers to stay at one of its Luxury Collection hotels, such as the Grande Bretagne, in Athens, for a guaranteed rate. These deals tend to be unadvertised, so ask an experienced travel agent, or inquire directly with hotels.
Euro Rates vs. Fixed U.S. Dollar Rates
The Destination The Merrion, in Dublin, a centrally located 143-room hotel converted from four 18th-century Georgian town houses.
Cost In July and August, the hotel is offering a matching dollar-to-euro rate (800/628-8929; merrionhotel.com; doubles from $575)—a savings of 35 percent off the rack rate.