How to book cheap luxury accommodations

Luxury outside patio

The biggest cost of travel today is accommodation. You can spend $10,000 a month for a condo in Hawaii or you can rent an estate for $25,000 a day in Palm Springs. There is no limit to what you can spend on accommodations. The trick is to get unbelievable accommodations at a budget price. You can book cheap luxury accommodations with research, perseverance, timing and a bit of luck.

Blue Hawaii

One cheap luxury accommodation I rented was an amazing house named Blue Hawaii on the southeast tip of Oahu. It is so unique and stunning that it has been the setting of many movies and episodes of Hawaii-5-0. It normally rents for $20,000 a week. 

I paid $3500 for a week in this stunning house. The house was awesome in every way and the views were unbelievable. The retractable windows remained open the entire week. The house captured the ocean breezes with no air conditioning or heat required. 

It had an infinity pool, ocean access, multiple entertainment areas, a large gourmet kitchen and outdoor kitchen. All through the house was original art work and custom furniture. It was one of those houses that you did not want to leave, it had so much to offer. 

An interesting piece of trivia is that the area where Blue Hawaii is built was developed by Edgar Kaiser at the same time he owned the Kaiser Coal Mine in Sparwood just 20 minutes from where I live. He also owned the Willy’s Jeep Company and the company vehicles for this massive development twenty minutes out of Honolulu were all pink. 

Dalmore Manor

In northern Scotland, I was able to rent the Dalmore Manor, a Class II historical luxury accommodation for cheap. The Dalmore House is the family manor of the Dalmore whiskey family and I rented it for just $3500 for the week. There were ten of us celebrating my birthday and it cost just $350 per person for seven nights. The baronial manor was so large that I got lost inside a couple of times. 

The estate was 40 acres with a quarter in gardens. Alongside the estate runs the Alness Creek that is a top rated trout fishing creek. The village of Alness is a lovely 20 minute walk along the creek or through horse pasteurs. 

We had a wonderful time walking the trails and playing English garden games along with wonderful dinner parties and parlour games each night. 

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip stayed there in the late 1960s. There is a picture in the billiard room of the owner and their Royal Highnesses that is notarized with the official Royal seal confirming their stay.  

The Dalmore Whisky Distillery is a 15 minute walk from the manor. The small top end distillery makes the most expensive whisky in the world. Recently, the Dalmore Decades No. 6  Collection sold for $1.24 million. 

The tour of the distillery is wonderful with some really tight places. The vast warehouses of whisky barrels is something to see. The tasting room is over the top in its futuristic design and they are liberal with the tastings. We were able to purchase a bottle of Dalmore Whisky for $70 that sells for $140 in Canada.

Sugar Shack

Not all great stays have to be large places. One of our nicest stays in a cheap luxury accommodation was a week in a small sugar shack on a coffee plantation on the Island of Hawaii for $400. When we pulled in and looked around, my wife told me that if she did not like the place we were going to go somewhere else. She does that when the first impression is not favourable. 

The sugar shack was under 500 sq. ft. The owner who lived on the property was a builder and he had built two sugar shack replicas. Sugar shacks were the name of the sugar cane workers homes back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. These shacks were new and had all the modern conveniences including granite counter tops, all new appliances and a large spa type tiled shower. 

Each morning the family gave us a gift of warm bread or eggs or a fruit basket placed on our doorstep. We quickly became part of the family and we shared dinners together. I taught their daughter, who was crazy about cooking, how to make Hollandaise sauce from scratch.  

The owners were both Hawaiian with two of their children still at home. They were very active in the community and we learned a lot about the big island and the people who lived there. 

With resources, know-how and planning, luxury accommodations can be cheap and they can even be free.

We have done 20 free home exchanges all over the world; London, Paris, Miami, Nashville, Ottawa, and Halifax, to name a few. All for free. 

Home Exchange


We have been members of one of the largest home exchange companies since 2005 and there are now a number of them on the Internet. They all have a yearly fee. Prices vary from free to $1000 a year. 

Home exchange is not for everyone. There is the trust issue. People’s fear that they will come home to a damaged house or that something will be stolen. Some people are not comfortable with strangers touching their stuff. When we first looked at doing home exchanges we had those concerns. We have never had a problem. 

The people that we have exchanged with are in the same socio-economic group. They have nice places that are well taken care of just like our home. They have all returned our home in the same condition as we left it for them. Often our home is literally sparkling when we come home. 

It takes a lot of searching especially if you are looking synchronous exchanges when you are in their home the same time you are in their home. We have been able to do non-synchronous exchanges where you go to each other’s homes at different times. For example, this might occur if they want to come skiing in the winter and we want their place in the fall. 

Two non-synchronous exchanges we did, one in London and the other in Key Largo, the people have never come to use their exchange. The London exchange was the first one we did in 2005. 

If you think Home Exchange might be for you, click here for a referral. If you decide to join, we will each get 250 Guest Points that you can use to exchange for a place. 

Pet and House Sitting

If you like animals there are websites were you can go around the world looking after people’s pets and housesitting while they go away. One that I follow has over 60,000 members and over 3670 active sits right now. One place I looked at in San Diego had constructed a backyard like a water park complete with slides, waterfalls, climbing rocks, a river and a deep pool that was used all day by their 3 active dogs. 

There are also websites that offer free room and board in exchange for your volunteer labour. One site has thousands of positions in 140 countries. Hosts around the world are looking for teachers, bar tenders, content writers and anything you can think of. If you would like to work on a tropical organic farm for 3-4 hours a day they are happy to have you.

Rent Your Place

The last tip for free accommodations is to rent your place out. We often rent our place out while we travel. We generally go away for two months at a time and we need someone to look after our house. We travel too much and too long to ask our friends and neighbours to look after the house. Our insurance requires the house to be checked every three days. 

We have no problem renting our place during high and shoulder seasons. We use this money to offset our accommodation costs when we are travelling. We generally rent our house below market price to people who have been recommended by friends. Someone who needs a place for a few months. It works out well for both of us. 

Visit my website for links to some of the websites mentioned in this article. 

Patrick Robertson is a travel writer and is an expert in planning independent travel and finding budget travel deals. Visit his Tool page at for powerful planning tools to book your whole trip. Like him on Facebook at for weekly tips.