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The Ultimate Travel Dilemma

by joeheg

I’ll admit that I tend to overanalyze things. I don’t view it as a positive or negative, more of just a part of who I am. Having that personality trait, I ask questions of others that force them to ponder the same dilemmas that I face when traveling.

One of my favorite questions to ask frequent travelers is, “What’s more important, the hotel or the destination?”

Of course, there’s more to the question than that. I’m trying to find out if they’ll visit a location just for an amazing hotel if there’s not much else there, or would they rather stay at a boring yet sufficient hotel at a fantastic place.

Some more seasoned travelers may reply with a question like, “Why do you have to choose? Why not go to an amazing hotel at an awesome location?”

Sure, that’s an option for some. But what if the location you want to visit doesn’t have any luxury hotels? Or what if an amazing hotel is not close to anything else you’d like to see?

Others may respond they’d stay in a hut if the surrounding location was stunning. I tend to agree. I’m way more about the place than the accommodation.

We’ve admittedly never stayed at a hut, but we’ve stayed at some basic accommodations. When we visited Carlsbad Caverns, there were no luxury accommodations in the surrounding area.


We stayed at an average chain hotel, so average I can’t even remember if it was an IHG or Marriott property. I wasn’t there for the hotel (Note from Sharon: it wasn’t a hotel, it was a motel, my love. Here’s how you can tell the difference between the two ;-). BTW, it was a Days Inn. So it was Wyndham).

Another place where the hotel was outdated was our stay at the Thunderbird Lodge at Grand Canyon.


Not the lap of luxury. It was a room and it was clean. More important to us was the view just outside our room.

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That tends to be the case at many National Parks. Great views, average hotels. There are exceptions to that rule, like the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, but those hotels are grand but not luxurious.

Don’t get me wrong. If we’re traveling and have the opportunity to stay at a nicer hotel, I’ll take advantage of the opportunity. It’s just never the REASON that I’ll go somewhere.

It’s the same as why we’re not the resort hotel type. I don’t want to stay at my hotel for the entire trip, even if they have a fantastic pool or fabulous restaurants. I travel to see places, not to see hotels.

What’s your opinion? Location, hotel, or only somewhere with both?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Tracy S May 22, 2020 - 3:17 pm

The hotel is never the reason for me to travel. As long as it’s not run-down and in an acceptable location I’ll stay at a pretty basic set of digs.

That said, often I bring someone with me to an awesome locale or event, usually one they would not reasonably expect to ever experience on their own. I will absolutely book higher-end stays (if available) to enhance the experience for them.

Joseph N. May 22, 2020 - 5:22 pm

That question is pretty open ended. If we are comparing a Hampton Inn in a national park vs. a Ritz Carlton next to a sewage plant, I’m taking the national park.. OTOH, if you mean a run down Rodeway Inn with mold on the ceiling, I am not staying there even if it is next door to the Eiffel Tower.

joeheg May 22, 2020 - 6:37 pm

I meant that the hotel would need to meet a certain level of standards. Basically I want it to be clean and safe. Anything over that is bonus.

Christian May 22, 2020 - 8:37 pm

While I prefer both if possible (who wouldn’t), if I had to make a decision it would be the destination. Last Fall my wife and I did a tour of Bali. At least one of the hotels was very basic – like no soap with the hand sink and the toilet and shower had no divider between them despite being quite close to each other. Nonetheless it was pretty awesome. The price was also quite agreeable at about $16 for the night in USD, including breakfast. Just one example.

Lara HS September 27, 2021 - 11:21 am

This IS an interesting thing to contemplate. We are going to the Grand Canyon in the spring and, due to bad weather possibilities in March, are not camping as we normally would but staying in one of the lodges. In that case, it’s anything better than a tent for me. But in general I am going somewhere for the location and amenities (so for instance in Hawaii, I’d pick a hotel with a great beach and snorkeling even if a “nicer” one is nearby without those). So I’d add amenities to location. But if I have several to choose from with similar amenities/location, service is the next factor for me. I can take a boring room but if the service is poor I won’t want to come back.


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