The ten laws of luxury

Notice how the sun is shining and the deck chairs are free

Luxury gets a top billing in most travel press these days but who can afford that stuff?

The words ‘exclusive’, ‘bespoke’ and ’boutique’ get bandied around but what does this really mean? And how can your average punter afford an experience that feels luxurious but doesn’t cost a fortune?

Here’s what you should look for if you want a luxury experience regardless of price tag:

  1. Luxury is not crowded
    It doesn’t matter how much you are paying for your room; if you have to fight for a banana lounge beside the pool or for a square inch of beach, it ain’t luxury. Smaller hotels won’t feel overrun even when they’re at full capacity. If you’re staying somewhere with 700 rooms in high season (which is also the most expensive time to book), batten down the hatches for a towel-placing battle.
  2. Luxury is good weather
    Impossible to control, but somewhat easier to predict based on data from previous years. There’s a reason that South East Asia is cheap during monsoon and beach side villages are deserted during winter. If it’s sun and sea you’re after, go at the right time of year. It will be more expensive but there’s a reason for that – many destinations are seasonal.
  3. Luxury is food you like
    Food is an incredibly personal thing and it’s easy to make the mistake that the fancier a restaurant is, the more luxurious it will be. No and no. A tiny cafe tucked away in a lane way that serves perfect crepes could be your idea of heaven. For someone else, it could be a burger by the pool, or a sandy-floored bar that only serves tacos. Don’t get caught in the trap of expensive = good. Do online research and don’t trust the concierge because they have a vested interest in sending you places where they get kick backs.
  4. Luxury is white
    I’m not being racist here; I’m talking white towels, white bed linen, white sand and white uniforms. One thing I have noticed is that the better the place, the whiter everything is. I am guessing this is because it’s harder to keep clean and more obvious if it’s not well-maintained. When you’re booking a room, look for white or at least natural coloured decor.
  5. Luxury is well-designed
    It could be the outdoor shower, the freestanding bath or the landscaped infinity pool; luxury is always beautifully designed and comfortable. The hot water works, the air-conditioning is quiet and the light switches are easy to operate. Everything in a truly luxurious room needs to a) work, b) feel good, and c) look appealing.
  6. Luxury is indulgent
    It’s the two hour massage, the leisurely breakfast, and the afternoon nap. Watch the in-house movies, stay up late, drink the mini-bar dry. Do things a little differently to your everyday life. It could simply be letting yourself read by the pool all day. It doesn’t have to cost a thing; it’s a mindset of letting yourself do whatever you feel like in the moment.
  7. Luxury is real
    Real flowers in reception, real fruit in the cocktails, real open fireplaces, and real tea and coffee. Overly processed or fake cheapens the vibe.
  8. Luxury smells nice
    Luxury hotels generally have a signature scent in the lobby, in the bathroom amenities and in the rooms. It doesn’t matter how much you’re paying, if you can smell sewerage, that ain’t luxury.
  9. Luxury is quiet
    You booked a hotel that is hosting a poolside networking party for 1000 people? Bad news, friend. It’s going to be loud. Suss out what else is happening in and around your hotel because being awake at 2am listening to Justin Bieber is going to ruin the serenity.
  10. Luxury is in a good spot
    Whether it’s on the waterfront of a beautiful beach, or smack bang in the centre of the city, luxury is being able to walk out of your hotel and go where you want to go without a 45 minute subway ride, expensive cab fare or having to walk 20 minutes down a hill (that you then have to walk back up again).

Luxury doesn’t have to be expensive. If you consider the items above when you’re booking your accommodation or choosing a destination, you’ve got a better chance of having a good time and that is the ultimate luxury.

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