Business Class Airfare or a 5-Star Hotel? Here's How to Decide

Adding a little luxury to your vacation is always exciting. Most people don’t have an unlimited travel budget, though. You might need to decide where to spend extra and where to go with a more affordable option.

Two of the biggest travel upgrades are flying business class and staying in a fancy, five-star hotel. Both can be amazing experiences, and both can cost thousands of dollars. Deciding between them is often a tough call, so keep reading to find out how to do it.

Consider when the flight is and how long it will last

Business class flights offer plenty of bells and whistles, but the biggest perk is how much more comfortable they are than economy. If you’re flying overnight, or if it’s a long flight, then a business-class seat makes a huge difference. You may be able to arrive well-rested and enjoy the first day of your trip instead of spending it catching up on sleep.

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That’s especially valuable on shorter trips. If you have four or five days at your destination, you probably don’t want to spend one of them resting.

A business-class seat isn’t as important if you don’t need to rest on the plane. For example, if your flight is from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., you might be able to hit the ground running whether you spend those five hours in economy or business class. In that case, you could get more bang for your buck, or for your travel rewards, from a nice hotel.

Think about how much time you’ll spend at your hotel

Five-star hotels generally have better aesthetics, service, and amenities than other hotels. These are all great benefits. But how much they matter depends on the type of trip you want and how you like to travel.

Maybe you want a relaxed trip where you spend a lot of time at your hotel. If so, it makes sense to book a room at an upscale property with a spa where you can get a massage, access to a pool, and quality dining options for eating out or ordering room service.

On the other hand, some people like to have their days full of activities when they travel. And if you’re going to be out and about for most of each day, spending more money for an expensive hotel could be a waste.

See if the better hotels have any key advantages over cheaper locations

It’s also worth looking at where you’d stay if you don’t book a five-star hotel. At many destinations, there are good accommodation options at several price ranges. Although a budget hotel or a vacation rental may not be as luxurious, they work fine as a place to stay.

But there are situations where more expensive hotels can have a big impact on your trip. These hotels may have far more amenities or the most convenient locations. One of the examples I’ve experienced firsthand is at beach destinations.

In some of these cities, the best hotels are right next to the beach in easy walking distance. They may also have private beach areas that hotel guests can use, with comfy chairs and food and drink service. Personally, I find this much more enjoyable than lugging supplies out to a crowded public beach area. For me, that’s a reason to splurge on a better hotel.

Choose the one that adds the most to your trip

You can’t really go wrong when choosing between business class and a five-star hotel. Either one will improve your travel experience. It’s just a matter of figuring out which one will improve your trip more.

If you have a long flight where you’ll need to rest, or you won’t be spending a ton of time at your hotel, then business class is the best choice. But if it’s a short flight or you want a nice place to stay, a five-star hotel is probably the way to go.

When in doubt, ask yourself which of the two gets you most excited, and you’ll have your answer. And if you’re trying to afford experiences like these more often, look into credit cards that earn travel points, as these can help you save quite a bit of money on luxury airfare and hotels.

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