How I scored a luxury hotel for $106/night in Chiang Mai, Thailand
At home and abroad, I'm the kind of person who hates spending more than is necessary on anything. I definitely have expensive taste and I like nice things, but I hate paying full price or feeling like I'm being overcharged. Maybe it's the way I was raised, but ultimately, I just want to feel like I'm getting what I paid for and that my money is being used efficiently. According to the results of my recent survey, you guys definitely feel the same way.
I'm also perfectly fine with budget hotels, especially for shorter stays. So when I'm traveling, I'll often opt for low-budget accommodations, staying in basic, standard rooms in B&Bs, guesthouses, hostels, or small independent hotels for about two-thirds of my trip - but then I'll spring for something super nice for a few nights. It definitely makes the nights in more barebones rooms feel more palatable, knowing I have luxury to look forward to!
That's what I decided to do in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. After a week of go-go-go traveling in busy, chaotic Vietnam, I knew Chiang Mai would be a welcome pause.
Wouldn't it be nice to slow down for a moment and spend four nights in a luxury hotel room with swim-up poolside access?
Damn, right? 😍
My husband and I opted for the U Chiang Mai, one of the nicer hotels in Chiang Mai, for 4 nights. Normally, this room would've cost us $140.86/night - definitely a splurge, on the higher end of our appetite for a nightly room rate, especially for northern Thailand. But because we have the Citi Prestige credit card, we get the fourth night free of any hotel stay that we book with the card (the only requirement being that the Citi Prestige agent can book it directly via the hotel's website).
That brought our nightly total down to $105.64. Here's the math:
Total for the Stay: $563.42
4th Night Credit (including taxes): $140.85
Total for the Stay with 4th Night Credit Applied: $422.57
The Citi Prestige card has proven to be one of the most valuable travel reward cards we own, second only to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The 4th night free perk is pretty great even if you only travel a few times a year, as long as you can manage to stay for 4 nights to take advantage of the credit.
And if you travel for business and your company lets you book your own travel and submit it later for reimbursement (not through a special company portal, a company card, or travel agent), I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Using the Citi Prestige card to book your trips could actually make you a profit.
And in case you're thinking it - I'm not affiliated with any credit card companies (or the U Chiang Mai hotel, for that matter), so these are totally unbiased reviews.
The U Chiang Mai is definitely one of the most memorable hotels I've stayed at. Everything about it was perfect: the location, the ambiance and decor, the pools and koi ponds, the hospitality and service. Anytime we needed something, the staff was more than willing to go out of their way to help us out and make us feel welcome.
I wouldn't be totally honest if I didn't tell you about a little snafu we had on the second day there, though. The glass shower door got stuck in the wrong position due to some issue with the way it was attached to the tile wall. We couldn't get in after that, and our shower items were stuck on the inside out of reach. They had to completely demo the shower area to fix the issue, which meant we had to change rooms. The staff at the U Chiang Mai got us an upgraded room (with similar swim up access, but even bigger) and sent the concierge to go pick up items from a nearby convenience store to replace the essential items that were still locked behind the old shower door until they could retrieve them the next day.
It was a huge pain in the ass to have to repack our bags (literally my most dreaded chore of travel), but things like this just happen - even at really fancy hotels. What makes the difference at the end of the day is how the staff handles it and how they make it right. U Chiang Mai definitely did right by us.
It was so, so nice to have our own entrance to the smaller, private pool, right from our hotel room. If that's not the definition of luxury, I don't know what is.
And knowing you paid less than everyone else for it just makes it all a little sweeter.
Want to learn more about my trip to Thailand, including specifics like where else I stayed and how much I spent on flights and hotels?
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