11 Cheapest Luxury Hotels in Europe: The Best Affordable 5-Star Accommodation
Savvy travelers already know that the cheapest luxury hotels in some cities are FAR cheaper than the cheapest luxury hotels in others. These days the US is home to many of the world’s most expensive cities for travelers, and Europe is actually home to dozens of amazing cities where things cost half or even less.
If you are a budget traveler you might not think to look for affordable 5-star hotels, but in a surprising number of cities in Europe, those hotels are cheaper than lousy roadside hotels in the US of A. The list below shows examples of affordable luxury hotels in many of the cheaper parts of Europe, and I think you’ll be pretty stunned at how far your travel fund goes when you choose your destination wisely.
The cheapest highly rated 5-star hotel in 11 European cities
If you research “5-star hotels” in cities around the world you will quickly discover that the term is unregulated in most places, and in many a hotel can call itself ‘5-star’ just as a marketing tool. So you could technically make a list of “5-star” hotels that would be a ragtag collection of lousy places that all have ambitious marketing departments, and that might actually make a funny article that you’ll see here soon as well.
But for the list below we only included proper city hotels that not only offer luxury decorations and extensive services, but ALSO get outstanding review scores from hundreds or thousands of past guests. Each of the hotels below scored at least 8.5 out of 10 on the combined guest-review score, and many of them are 9.0 and higher. If you research hotels you’ll know that scores that high are very rare and if a 5-star place gets scores in that ballpark that the guests all agree that it deserves 5 real stars.
Europe's cheaper cities are amazing value
When deciding where to go on vacation, it’s easy to start by researching airfare and then focus on places that are cheaper to fly into. The problem with that is that often by spending a few hundred dollars more on airfare, you can save $100 per person each day on accommodation, food, attractions, and transportation.
That’s why we launched the Global Backpacker Index, which compares typical daily prices in over 130 cities around the world for budget travelers. As of 2023, almost ALL of the most expensive places are in the United States, and many amazing places in Europe are half the price or less. It will take more time to fly to, say, Budapest, but in only a few days you will have spent less and had a richer experience. The cheapest luxury hotels in Europe are the same price as hotels in the US that most of us wouldn’t even stay in for free!
Hotels in the United States are expensive
If you haven’t traveled much around the United States in the last few years, you may be surprised to learn that even Motel 6s are charging about $100 per night, and your standard Best Western offramp hotels are typically $150 per night and up, even in the middle of nowhere.
Now scroll below and see what you can get in Europe for even less than that!
The Cheapest 5-star hotels in Europe
Rates below are for two people, including all taxes, on at least one upcoming night in 2023. They were researched in mid April 2023 and in almost all cases the lowest price was found on an online travel agency (Expedia, booking.com etc) that was running a special, so the rates found on the official hotel websites will typically be higher.
1 – Regent Warsaw Hotel – Warsaw, Poland: US$80/night
With a brutalist exterior that seems fitting in Warsaw, the Regent Warsaw Hotel has 246 rooms and a location in the heart of the central business district. The photos of the rooms may not exactly look “5-stars”, but when they were last refreshed a few decades ago they probably looked amazing. Still not bad for possibly the cheapest 5-star hotel in Europe (at least among those that are legit and get good reviews)>
Considering the price of US$80 for a room, it’s hard to be too picky about not having furnishings that were produced in the post-Solidarity era. Fortunately the common spaces actually do look 5 stars with a huge indoor pool and fitness center as well as super nice restaurant, bar, lounge, and even EV charging. Feel free to pay three times as much at the Sofitel Warsaw Victoria, but I’m staying here!
- Expedia guest review score: 9.0/10 after 534 reviews
- Regent Warsaw hotel website
2 – Akgün Istanbul Hotel – Istanbul, Turkey: US$100/night
As you may know, Turkey is in a weird place these days with insane inflation combined with steady currency devaluation, but still US$100 per night for a room in this hotel is pretty amazing. It’s got 263 rooms in a central location in the business district on the European side of Istanbul, just a few kilometers from the Grand Bazaar and the Hagia Sophia.
The Akgün also has an outdoor swimming pool along with a sauna, Turkish bath, Finnish bath (steam bath), gym, spa and even a Starbucks Cafe in the lobby. Not bad considering it’s about the same price as most Motel 6s in the US these days. I lived in Turkey for over a year and have visited Istanbul many times, so I can confidently recommend this place. The only thing I’d steer clear of are those ice cream vendors who cruelly keep snatching back the cone just when you think you’ve finally got a good grip on it. Avoid!
3 – Grand Hotel Krakow – Krakow, Poland: US$115/night
The Grand Hotel Krakow has an amazing location, just a block off the central market area of the gorgeous Old Town in Krakow, and a pretty easy walk to Wawel Castle. This place opened in 1887 so you can excuse them for leaving some of the common areas as traditional instead of super modern.
With only 64 rooms, this is not one of the larger hotels on this list, but it really does stand out in history and upscale amenities such as a sauna, 24-hour gym, and a bar. Apparently it’s been featured in a number of Polish movies and TV shows, which obviously adds to the excitement of staying here. Seriously, Krakow is a super fun place to visit and this place has a perfect location and an amazing price as one of the cheapest luxury hotels in Europe.
- Expedia guest review score: 8.2/10 after 749 reviews
- Grand Hotel Krakow website
4 – Hotel Europe – Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: US$116/night
You might expect that if you are only paying US$116 per night for a room in a kick-ass 5-star hotel that you are going to be stuck in some lonely corner of town, but the Hotel Europe is another one that is right in the middle of everything. It’s one block from the Miljacka River, which runs through Sarajevo’s center.
Speaking of historic hotels, the Hotel Europe first opened in 1882 with the name Hotel Evropa, which would have been a much easier name to Google had it existed back then. It’s even got its own Wikipedia page, and I don’t know about you, but I’m usually willing to pay more for that sort of notoriety. As was the fad at the time, the hotel was nationalized during the Communist period in Yugoslavia starting in 1945 and didn’t re-privatize until 2008. It’s got 160 rooms and 14 suites including TWO presidential suites! Those are probably more expensive though.
- Expedia guest review score: 8.0/10 after 243 reviews
- Hotel Europe website
5 – Marrol’s Boutique Hotel – Bratislava, Slovakia: US$121/night
Located just a block off the Danube in the heart of the historic center of Bratislava, Marrol’s Boutique Hotel is another one with a location so perfect that the nightly room rate is hard to believe. I stayed on a converted river cruise ship a few blocks from this place and this place would have been WAY better and way more stable as well.
They’ve only got 51 guest rooms and 3 suites and apartments. While the photos may not look amazing, please keep in mind that the room rate includes a FREE drink and a buffet breakfast! I’m not sure if I’ll ever be back in Bratislava, but if I am I will definitely check this place out first.
- Expedia guest review score: 9.6/10 after 992 reviews
- Marrol’s Boutique Hotel website
6 – Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel – Vilnius, Lithuania – US$142/night
Lest anyone think this is just a collection of independent hotels that must somehow be inferior to the famous chain hotels they have in your town, here is a member of an American chain that is based in Minnesota, no less! Are you worried that you’ve never heard of a “Radisson Blu?” Well, according to the most recent person to edit the wikipedia page, “Radisson Blu is an international chain of upscale hotels.” See? Upscale!
The Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel has 126 guest rooms along with a bar, health club, and the Scents of Provence SPA. Not too shabby! By the way, it’s in the heart of historic Vilnius and only about one kilometer from the Frank Zappa memorial, so it won’t take half a day to visit it and take a bunch of photos. For those who haven’t been, Vilnius is a bit nicer than nearby capitals Riga and Tallinn because it’s not on the sea so it isn’t always jammed with hapless cruise passengers staggering around looking for souvenirs.
- Expedia guest review score: 8.8/10 after 579 reviews
- Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel website
7 – Grand Hotel Continental – Bucharest, Romania: US$154/night
Considering that Bucharest is usually the cheapest of the cities on our list on our annual 3-Star travel Index, you might have been expecting its cheapest kick-ass 5-star hotel to appear higher on this list as well. I know I was! The thing is, the cheaper 5-star places are just not that nice and this place looks amazing, so here it is.
Grand Hotel Continental has 59 completely restored rooms, but the photos make it look much larger in my opinion. Their website says the hotel has a history of over 200 years, and that I can believe from the looks of the exterior. Again, it’s in the heart of the Old Town historic area and only two kilometers from the gargantuan Palace of Parliament, which is the most photographed place in Bucharest and was ordered built by former dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu!
- Expedia guest review score: 9.2/10 after 666 reviews
- Grand Hotel Continental Hotel website
8 – Hyatt Regency – Belgrade, Serbia: US$156/night
Speaking of awesome American chain hotels, if you don’t mind visiting Belgrade you can probably afford to stay in a Hyatt Regency! This is a legendary hotel chain that was known for having some of the finest hotels in major cities in the US and elsewhere, and you can finally afford to stay in one! Holy shit!
This place also has its own Wikipedia page that reveals that they have 302 guest rooms along with 39 suites. The text of the page consists of only 6 sentences, which makes you wonder how it got published, but right near the end they drop this bombshell, “It is a five star hotel; ranked as the most luxurious hotel in the country, with an excellent reputation.” I actually lived in Serbia for over 4 months at one point and I’ll be the first to admit that few outsiders are climbing over each other to get in as a tourist, but this place is ranked as the MOST luxurious hotel in the country for crying out loud! What are you waiting for? It’s $156 per night and they’ve got an indoor pool among other things!
- Expedia guest review score: 9.2/10 after 337 reviews
- Hyatt Regency – Belgrade Hotel website
9 – Mystery Hotel – Budapest, Hungary: US$160/night
One thing that nearly all 5-star travelers share is a desire to book a room in a place that prides itself on being mysterious to the point that they name it Mystery Hotel. Fortunately for us, it’s more than just a name. The historic building dates back to 1896 when it was built to house the new local chapter of the Freemasons, but that’s not all. Each of their 82 rooms is apparently decorated differently. One has a “Girl With The Pearl Earring” headboard except the girl is holding up a vintage iPhone. Another has a Mona Lisa headboard except she’s wearing a lanyard and has sunglasses on her head! WTF?
Seriously though, this hotel looks amazing, and unlike most other cities on this list, Budapest actually IS a place that most travelers justifiably want to visit. The location is really handy as well, near the train station. If it was overlooking the Danube they would probably charge double and I would never stay there.
- Expedia guest review score: 9.4/10 after 305 reviews
- Mystery Hotel Hotel website
10 – Grand Hotel Excelsior – Valletta, Malta: US$176/night
Probably my favorite hotel on this list, the Grand Hotel Excelsior in Valletta is an interesting hybrid of a big city hotel and a sunshine resort. It’s actually located at the edge of the tiny capital of Malta, and it overlooks a gorgeous harbor. I spent 3 weeks in Malta a few years ago, and like an idiot I stayed across the harbor in Sliema, although that place was about half the price in my defense.
With 428 rooms, the Grand Hotel Excelsior has got to be one of the largest hotels in Malta, based on me touring nearly all of both main islands and not seeing anything that looked larger. One catch though is you’ve got to book at least 3 nights, but what kind of nut job would go all the way to Malta and only spend one or two nights? So it’s not really an issue the more I think about it.
- Expedia guest review score: 8.6/10 after 1000 reviews
- Grand Hotel Excelsior website
11 – Le Premier Boutique Hotel – Zagreb, Croatia: US$184/night
You know how suddenly EVERYONE is heading to Zagreb? I haven’t heard that either, but when it finally happens I can’t think of a nicer place to stay than the Le Premier Boutique Hotel. It’s a gorgeous building in the center of the city with only 59 rooms. According to an online translator, the name “Premiere Boutique” is French for “First Store,” which was not was I was expecting. Nevertheless, the hotel gets fantastic reviews and Zagreb is actually a very nice town considering it’s not on the coast like all of the other popular towns in Croatia.
Looking more closely at it, this really isn’t an amazing deal compared to pretty much all of the hotels higher on the list. Honestly, I just thought a list with 11 entries sounded more interesting than one with 10, and I wasn’t prepared for how blown away I’d be with most of the first ones. That said, I do like the looks of this place and it seems like a good deal for what you get.
- Expedia guest review score: 9.0/10 after 90 reviews
- Le Premier Boutique Hotel website