By Ed Perkins

Which important world destination city offers the best "value" in hotel accommodations? Prague, says a recent survey; not a great surprise, given the almost universal reputation that worthy city has earned in the last decades. And other Eastern European cities also fare well.

These rankings originate from a recently released study derived from the large database of traveler reviews complied through European-based Hotel.Info ( The fundamental idea is to identify value cities "where the price is worth paying," not necessarily just where the prices are lowest. The figures represent composite scores based on visitors' views on how well the hotels lived up to their expectations.

As noted, Prague earns the highest rating spot among the top 20 cities reported. The remaining cities in the list, ranked from the top down, are Lisbon, Budapest, Berlin, Ottawa, Warsaw, Vienna, Tokyo, Bucharest, Madrid, Shanghai, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Rome, Helsinki, Athens, Brussels, Paris, and Bern. I see some interesting patterns here:

-- As noted, Eastern European cities score well. Although several of these cities are also generally regarded as low-cost destinations, overall -- including Berlin and Bucharest -- Vienna's high ranking shows that even a relatively expensive city can offer good value.

-- The only North American city to make the list -- Ottawa -- is a bit of a surprise, not because it doesn't provide good value as much as that it isn't an obviously popular destination spot. Last year, New York City barely made the top 20 at position number 20, but it doesn't even rank that well this year. North America's poor showing may be, at least in part, due to the shrinking exchange rates of the euro and pound against the dollar, making the whole area less of a "value" than in prior years. The study may have a bit of an anti-North American bias, too, because as far as I can tell, Europeans submitted most of the responses.

-- Low rankings for Rome, Helsinki, Paris, and Bern are no surprise, given that these cities have enjoyed high-cost reputations for many years.

-- I'm a bit surprised to see that Tokyo outscores Hong Kong: In my experience, Hong Kong hotels offer by far the better value. However, I didn't crunch the numbers so I can't argue with them.

The release doesn't specify exactly how the cities were selected for scoring. Clearly, they're all among the world's top visitor destinations, but lots of top destinations are not scored.

I assume that means other blockbuster destination cities, ranging from Boston and San Francisco to Sydney and Auckland, were included in the statistical analysis but score lower than the top 20. If so, this, too, would be a surprise to me, given that, in my experience, several of them offer better value than Tokyo or Madrid.

Hotel.Info is based in Britain, so it also compiled scores limited to cities in the UK. Here, the ranking for the top 15 cities, from first to last, are Belfast, Bournemouth, Glasgow, Liverpool, Southampton, Manchester, Birmingham, Coventry, Nottingham, Aberdeen, Oxford, Bristol, Cardiff, and London. Again, this ranking presents very few surprises: Although London has lots of budget hotels, most tend to be some combination of minimal, plain and even downright scruffy, and really nice accommodations are almost always extremely expensive. I've also found accommodations in Oxford to be a bit pricey for what you get.

Finding destinations with the lowest prices for hotel accommodations just about anywhere is fairly easy -- lots of sources publish average price information. But locating the places where local hotels provide the best value for the money is trickier, and totally subjective. For that reason, Hotel.Info's data are both interesting and useful, but also nowhere near as precise as price comparisons. Still, the concept is intriguing: I'd like to see someone in the United States come up with a similar analysis.


© Ed Perkins

Travel | Best 'Value' Destination Cities