Where Are Australia's Cheapest Hotels?

Hotel room costs are often one of the biggest expenses when you travel. But which city in Australia had the biggest price rise for hotels last year? Somewhat surprisingly, the answer is Brisbane.

The Hotels.com Hotel Price Index ranks the cost of hotels in major cities around the world, comparing the average price in Australian dollars for a room in 2010 and 2011. Because the Australian dollar was strong throughout 2011, many overseas destinations became much more affordable than before. While the index suggests that overall global prices rose by 4 per cent, 30 of the 51 countries covered in the survey were cheaper for Australians to visit.

Domestically, the results were somewhat different. The average cost for a room was $166, up 9 per cent from 2010. But that figure saw significant variation.

For Australian travellers, Brisbane saw the second-highest price rise of any city in the world, with average room rates rising from $148 to $174. The top-ranked city was Christchurch (up 22 per cent to $118 a night), which suggests that natural disasters in both cities reduced the number of available rooms and caused prices to rise. But that wasn't the only factor: Perth was #3 in the global rankings, with average room rates up to $184 from $157 the previous year. That made it the most expensive capital city in Australia. Here's the average rates for the capitals:

  • Sydney $181
  • Melbourne $158
  • Brisbane $174
  • Canberra $184
  • Perth $184
  • Adelaide $147
  • Hobart $157
  • Darwin $165

Despite that, the most expensive locations in Australia aren't the capital cities, but remote locations or areas perceived as offering luxury. Top of the list was the Whitsunday Islands ($284 a night), followed by Byron Bay ($192), the Sunshine Coast ($187) and the Hunter Valley ($185). The cheapest average rates were in Cairns ($119), Alice Springs ($129), Launceston ($131), Townsville ($140) and Adelaide ($147).

How can you use this information? If you're looking for a budget holiday, then aim for a large regional city rather than a remote location. (Airfares will probably be cheaper as well.) Plan in advance: the further ahead you book, the more choice you'll have. While you may occasionally run into a last-minute bargain, you may also find yourself with no affordable choices, especially during periods such as school holidays.

Remember these are averages: given that there are plenty of five-star joints charging $300 or more a night, there must also be cheaper options, so hunt them down. But remember to consider total cost: if you choose a more remote part of the city and spend a fortune on taxis, you may not be better off overall.

Lifehacker's weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.


    Hi Angus
    Can you reference the source as I would like more info. Many thanks.

      First line, second paragraph: The Hotels.com Hotel Price Index :)

        I did see that. The data in the text and infographic is not on the HPI, at least not the one released this week. For instance where did the data about Alice Springs come from as it is not in the latest report? Thanks

    One thing that this ignores is the quality of the hotels. When researching a visit to Canberra at the end of last year, many comments on TripAdvisor mentioned the standard of the hotels and rooms being lower than the same chains in Sydney, whilst the prices were the same. I guess that's what they can get away with due to the high number of visitors when parliament is in session.

    Why is Brisbane having the biggest price rise surprising? With no new CBD hotels in more than 10 years and massive growth of the resources sector in that time it would surprise me if Brisbane didn't have the biggest price rise.

    I think what Angus is actually saying is that for a resident of Melbourne or Sydney it's somewhat surprising that things are happening outside of those two cities.

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