‘Best value’ countries and cities in Europe

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Ed Perkins

Among European countries, you get the most value for your money in the Czech Republic. And the worst value is Denmark. At least that’s what a recent study from Hotel Info (www.hotel.info) suggests. The top value city is Prague, and the worst is Rio.

Normally, I’m not big on studies that steer you to “low-cost” or “high-value” destinations. After all, if you chose a destination on the basis of lowest total cost, you’d probably head for places in mid-America such as Little Rock or Albuquerque.

But Europe is a little different: Its major cities all offer a wide range of interesting places to visit, things to do and food to enjoy. The euro is well below levels of the past several years. So if you’re thinking about a trip across the Atlantic in 2016, you might want to work relative costs into your consideration.

Hotel Info’s release doesn’t go into much methodology, but the scores for “best value for the money” are based on a combination of rates and consumer evaluations, as posted on its website.

The best and worst

Best value countries: With a value score of 8.13 on a scale of 10, the Czech Republic tops the list, but Portugal (8.09), Poland (8.02), and Hungary (7.92) are close, and Austria (7.86) is only a bit lower.

Worst value countries: That Denmark (6.37) and Norway (6.59) are at the bottom of the list shouldn’t surprise anyone, nor should the UK and Belgium (6.92) and Russia (6.96).

Best value cities: Prague (8.2) scores well above the next best, Lisbon, Warsaw, and Berlin, closely grouped at 8.01-8.04. Bangkok and Vienna are also close, at 7.87-7.89, as are Madrid and Shanghai (7.63-7.65), followed by Helsinki, Rome, and Tokyo. I would never have expected to see Tokyo anywhere else but near the bottom in any scoring based on cost of visiting, but that’s what Hotel Info found.

Worst value cities: From the worst up, the scores range from a low of 6.28 at Rio de Janeiro through New York City, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Moscow, London, Sydney, Oslo, Singapore, Paris, Stockholm, to Bern at 6.86, with minor score increments.

Except from finding Helsinki, Rome and Tokyo on any sort of “value” list, the scores contain few surprises. Scandinavia, New York and London have well deserved reputations as expensive destinations — even when you offset costs by the “value” they offer.

If you’ve already decided which countries and cities you want to visit, these scores can give you some guidance as to how to cope with the local cost structure. A low-cost city or country gives you an opportunity to splurge — and maybe target hotels one or two stars above your usual range.

As I write this, I’m planning a trip to Vienna, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the number of four-star and better hotels that are available for less than $125 per night. Of course, even in low-cost cities, the very famous spots still charge a lot more than hotels only a few ranks below that top level.

Handling high-cost areas

Conversely, if you’re heading for a high-cost city, consider going down-market a star or two. That’s what I do in London, for example.

On a projected trip for later in 2016, I’m looking at a Travelodge as a possible spot to hang out for a few days. Yes, it’s a “budget” chain, but I’ve stayed at several over the years and always find them more than adequate. Another advantage of going down-market is that these hotels typically charge a lot less for breakfast.

And speaking of breakfast, depending on local customs, hotels in many European cities no longer include “free” breakfast. In those places, look for a “bed and breakfast” package: I found a good one in Vienna.

Don’t let low costs lure you someplace you don’t really care about, and don’t let high costs steer you away from a place you really want to see. Instead, adjust to the costs, and enjoy.

Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at eperkins@ mind.net.

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