This week, we’re delighted to have a guest post from one of our favourite part-time travel bloggers, Anne from Travel The Globe 4 Less. TTG4L is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to get the absolute best from their travel budget (don’t we all!) and Anne covers everything from supercharging your airmiles balance to getting free hotel stays. Here she shares her favourite spots for affordable luxury in Asia.
If you want to indulge in high quality accommodation at ridiculously reasonable prices, then look no further than Asia. Nowhere on earth can you indulge in so much luxury for the price of a budget hotel in London.
It is even possible to get a reasonable hotel with en-suite room and access to a swimming pool for less than a tenner a night. Now that is what I call a bargain! However if it is affordable luxury you seek, then you really will be spoiled rotten in these three destinations.
India is the home of bargain bucket accommodation but for those seeking relaxation and luxury, the Intercontinental Mumbai is a top pick for me.
Not only are the rooms huge with a super king-size bed that you can disappear into, so gorgeous is the mattress and crisp, white linens, but the aroma of fresh burning incense oils personally delivered to your room is the icing on the cake.
The rooftop pool has incredible views over the Colaba Causeway, as has the rooftop bar which plays Café del Mumbai tunes from dusk until late. It is a great way to while away an evening, sipping cocktails whilst sultry breezes provide a welcome respite from the day’s scorching heat.
Breakfast is a mouth-watering smorgasbord of delectable fruits, yoghurts and cereals with an assortment of a la carte items to choose from. Given that I have something of an aversion to the hotel breakfast buffet, this place ticks all my boxes. You can admire the funky photos lining the wall or head out onto the small balcony to enjoy your coffee whilst savouring the noise and bustle of the city below.
Of course, drinks and dinner here are charged at western prices but if you head into the city, you can dine off street stalls for mere pennies. I highly recommend the lime coated corn on the cobs you can find roasting on Chowpatty beach.
If you want something a little more indulgent, head for afternoon tea at the Taj Palace for fabulous views over to the Gateway of India and service fit for any Raj (or Yorkshire lass!). It’s worth it just to wander the halls of this beautiful, colonial-style hotel which greeted society guys and gals as they dismembarked their ships at the Gateway.
Price: Rooms start from around £119 a night at the Intercontinental.
Indonesia is an incredibly affordable country to visit with little seaside cafes selling huge mounds of Nasi Goreng for around 50p, luxury villas for the price of a Hilton and tantalising dinners in friendly, family run restaurants for little more than a Starbucks.
Ubud in Bali is one of my very favourite places, with abundant daily yoga classes at the Yogabarn, mist topped tropical vegetation clinging to the vertiginous banks of the Ayung River, endless colourful art and craft studios and plentiful opportunities for shopping bargains. It’s a bustling hangout for backpackers, long-term nomads and those seeking luxury accommodation without the need of a six-figure bank balance.
The Kamuela Villas is one such treat, with glass rooms suspended above azure swimming pools in private courtyards, it is tucked away in a peaceful oasis behind the main road. Close the curtains only if you wish to miss the dawn parade of extended monkey families scampering down the walls and strutting imperially around the plush outdoor dining area.
A palatial bathroom hosts a mammoth tub where you can soak surrounded by rose petals or you can step straight from the marble tiles into the cooling waters of your very own pool.
For honeymooners, or loved up types, I also recommend splashing out on a romantic dinner served in your private dining area. You will find your pool decorated with gigantic love hearts overflowing with rose petals, a vibrant demonstration of your love.
Price: From £125 a night although prices vary depending on season. Packages are available for multi-night stays and are worth considering for inclusive spa treatments and dining options.
Vietnam is frankly one of the best value places I have visited in Asia, albeit you need to be wary of enterprising scam artists. For instance, the fabulous massage we had for $5 in a upmarket spa in District 5, automatically applied a $20 tip to the bill.
That said, taxis are cheap (just be sure to get the green and white cabs and ask for the meter to be put on), main meals cost little more than a £1 and ice cold beers can be had for under a £1.
I have to admit, out of all the places we visited in Vietnam, HCMC was the place which least captured my heart, with its chaotic traffic, overpowering stench of fumes and roadside garbage intermingled. However the jewel in the crown is the panoramic, rooftop cocktail bar and pool at the Liberty Central Saigon Riverside, a great escape from the bustle of the city below and a chance to breathe pure air.
It has a lush infinity pool with views over the river and skyscrapers of downtown. You can while away a few hours here sipping cocktails in the covered bar area or dangle your toes in the water from the comfort of a soft beanbag nestled in the shallows of the pool.
You will not find £1 beers here, although you can have a fabulous boutique style room overlooking the Saigon river for just £79.
The truth is I could wax lyrical for hours about the amazing hotels you can find in Asia. It’s easy to spend £150 on a Premier inn in London (not that I’ve got anything against a Premier Inn but they are hardly renowned for luxury spas and swimming pools) but in Asia that same money can have you luxuriating in beds fit for a queen in the heart of vibrant cities, where the concept of service takes on a supernatural glow, so alien is it to some of the service you might experience back home.