Ask just about any hotelier for a room with a great view and chances are you'll pay dearly for it. Hotels like to promote their expensive view rooms and, more often than not, the rooms offered are suites that cost $250 a night--and up.
For $1,500 you can get a view from the Presidential Suite at the Hyatt Regency in Honolulu.
At the PGA Sheraton Resort in Palm Beach, Fla., you can get views of the beach, the golf course and a 26-acre lake from a $625-a-night suite.
But who wants to pay that kind of money for a room just to get a view? Not me.
Instead, if you're staying at the PGA Resort, ask for Room 3101, which offers the same view at regular room rates.
If you're staying at the Hyatt Regency in Honolulu and want a view room, you don't have to ask for the most expensive room in the place.
The most expensive rooms are ocean front. But if you ask for an ocean view room in the hotel's Diamond Head tower facing Diamond Head, you not only save money but you get views of Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean.
Good View and Quiet
Smart travelers always ask for Room 301 at the Westin La Paloma in Tucson. Not only does the room have a spectacular view of the mountains, golf course and the city, but it's also quiet.
In Washington, D.C., Room 1616 at the Sheraton Grand Capitol Hill provides a perfect view of the nation's Capitol.
From the terrace of Room 1110 at the Grand Bay Hotel in Coconut Grove, Fla., you get the best view of Biscayne Bay, downtown Miami and Key Biscayne.
And in Hong Kong, always ask for an even-numbered room on the third floor at the Regent Hotel. It's the only floor where guest rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows that directly face the harbor.
What all these rooms have in common is that they are normal rooms that just happen to have spectacular views with unspectacular prices.
"All too often," says the general manager of one Honolulu hotel, "people will pay an unneeded premium for a so-called ocean front view room when virtually all the rooms in the hotel give you some view of the ocean.
"Many times, a room classified as a mountain view will give you both the ocean and the mountains for a rate considerably less."
For example, always ask for rooms designated as the 33 series at the Maui Prince Hotel. Or check out Rooms 774 or 674 at Stouffer's Wailea Beach Resort on Maui. These rooms are designated mountain view in price, but each provides ocean views at no extra charge.
At the Fairmont in San Francisco ask for a regular room above the 21st floor.
There are, of course, a few hotels where every room has a great view. There's the Four Seasons Great Barrier Reef Hotel in Queensland, Australia. Scheduled to open later this year, the hotel will be floating in the John Brewer Reef about 30 miles offshore in about 40 feet of water. All the rooms will look out over the reef.
In Bangkok you don't need to ask for specific room numbers to get great views at the legendary Oriental Hotel or at the nearby Shangri-La Hotel. Every room has a great view.
Each window faces out toward the Chao Praya River, which provides the best show of all--a never-ending parade of activity as boats of every conceivable pedigree zoom by in one direction, and fight strong river currents in the other. From the ground floor it is not unusual to look up and see guests standing at their windows--the view is nothing short of mesmerizing.
But if you want to see all the river action in Savannah, Ga., ask for a room with a flashing red light at the Hyatt Regency.
The hotel has about 75 rooms with the special lights that face the river and look out over the the third-largest port on the East Coast.
Facing the River
When the light flashes in your room, it's the hotel's signal to guests that another container ship, cruise ship or large Navy ship is heading upriver. And if you want the best view, ask for Room 536. It's a corner room and not only faces the Savannah River but also looks out over River Street, a refurbished cotton warehousing district now filled with shops, bistros and pubs.
Some places make the best of a bad situation and make a bad view better. One example of this is in Monte Vista, Colo. It's been open since 1964. And since 1969 the hotel has featured in-room movies--well, sort of. Fifty-two of the 62 rooms at the the Best Western Movie Manor Motel face a drive-in movie.
If you're staying in one of those rooms you're naturally attracted to the large movie screen just outside your window. One small problem: You could watch the movie but you couldn't hear it.
A few years ago the hotel solved the problem. It installed special speakers in each of the rooms. Now, if you're forced to watch "Police Academy IV," you can enjoy the experience. There's no extra charge. But ask for Rooms 201 and 207 at the motel.