The cost of finding comfort

When it comes to booking a room, cashed-up Australians are willing to spend a little more, writes Jane Reddy.

Despite greater buying power due to the buoyant dollar, Australians spent more for accommodation during the last summer holiday period in popular destinations in the US, south-east Asia and the Middle East compared with the corresponding period the previous year.

The biggest average price rises, according to HotelsCombined's latest Australian Hotel Price Trends Report, included Dubai, at 33 per cent from $188 to $250.42 a night; Los Angeles, at 30 per cent from $130.98 to $170.63; Nha Trang, Vietnam, up 27 per cent from $123.05 to $156.80; and Nadi, Fiji, up 26 per cent from $60.86 to $76.70.

The report by the hotel comparison service includes the top-100 destinations Australians travelled to between December 2012 and February 2013, using data from websites including, HotelClub, Expedia and Best Western. The website has 400,000 searchable hotels in 120,000 destinations worldwide.

HotelsCombined spokeswoman Kristen McKenzie says the price rises were largely driven by hotel room supply and travellers' demand. And, despite a strong dollar, Australians tended to lean towards the class of hotel they knew best, McKenzie says.

She says the hotel rate rise in Dubai, via which Qantas is flying to Europe as part of its new partnership with Emirates, was indicative of the Middle East's worldwide popularity and subsequent demand.

"There's been a lot of investment in the Middle East over the years and there's always something bigger and better, such as plans for the world's tallest Ferris wheel," McKenzie says.

She says the popularity of other destinations indicated a trend of Australians holidaying offshore, buoyed by a strong currency.

"A lot of [Australian] traffic is going to south-east Asia, for example, as it is sometimes more inexpensive to fly there than drive to regional Australia because of petrol costs," she says.

Regional Australian destinations experienced the biggest hotel price drops, with Phillip Island, Victoria, down 12 per cent from $203 to $178 a night, and Katoomba, NSW, a 15 per cent drop from $184 a night to $157. But HotelsCombined expects to see some increase in rates in regional areas, especially in wine area such as NSW's Hunter Valley, over the winter months.

Hotels in major Australian cities were largely on the rise, with Sydney the most visited destination by Australians over the summer period. It had a 5 per cent increase in prices from $205 to $215. Melbourne, the second most travelled-to destination from the survey results, had a 7 per cent increase: $169 to $181. Darwin had the biggest growth, 15 per cent, from $115.56 to $132.38.

Canberra experienced a decline in average price over the summer period, with 6 per cent from $170.35 to $160.62. However, the city is celebrating its centenary over the coming year with a slew of activities and special events.

Overseas, the biggest fall recorded was in India's commercial capital, Mumbai, down 14 per cent from $165.40 a night to $145.79, pushed along by the economic downturn and drop in foreign tourism. Honolulu came in at No.9 for the biggest price rise, up 26 per cent from $189.93 to $239.76, as well as the destination favoured by Australians over the summer period.