Affordable luxury is the name of the game in the countries of Southeast Asia. For what you might pay for a cracker-box room in big cities in the U.S. and Europe, you can go in style in Indochina and the countries on the Malay Peninsula. Pay more than $100, and you'll live like royalty. Budget travelers and young backpackers flock to the region, and a big part of the charm is spending $2 to $5 per night; it makes the budget go on and on. If your trip is short, live it up. Go for a luxury room and take advantage of affordable spa treatments (at a fraction of what you'd pay elsewhere). Midrange boutique hotels and rustic ecofriendly rural resorts are also a new trend as developers discover that refurbished is cool, and that location -- whether overlooking the Mekong or set in a tropical rainforest -- is everything.
You'll find many of the major chains represented in the region. Sheraton has hotels throughout Thailand, Singapore, and in the major stops in Vietnam. Inter-Continental has high-end business properties in Hanoi, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, and Singapore. Hilton has fine properties in Hanoi (Vietnam), Bangkok and Phuket (Thailand), throughout Malaysia and Singapore, and on Bali. The French hoteliers at Accor host a number of Sofitel and Novotel hotels in the region; many of the big-city properties are aimed at the business market, but in Vietnam Sofitel takes the cake with some of the most unique refurbished hotels going, and in Cambodia it has a top resort as well. Four Seasons has fine properties in Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and outside of Chiang Mai. JW Marriott has a hotel in Bangkok and a luxury resort on Phuket. Le Meridien boasts top resorts and golf in Thailand and Bali (Indonesia).
There are also a few good local chains. The Amari group is a Swiss-managed hotel chain with semiluxurious properties in all of the major stops in Thailand; service is conscientious and there is a good consistency among its many hotels (and good rates). In Vietnam, and now Cambodia, the Victoria hotels are a charming blend of atmosphere and connection to place, without sacrificing all of the comforts of home. Pansea hotels, now individually branded under the management of the luxury Orient Express group, host some of the most luxurious sanctuaries that take you away from it all but remind you of local culture -- find them in Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia. Aman Resorts are in a class all their own, with their sprawling villa properties in Indonesia, Cambodia, and soon in Laos, all at rock-star prices.
Villa rental is a popular choice in island destinations. Balinese villas are a particular steal, best over a longer period of time and with hired staff. In places such as Thailand's Phuket, you'll find timeshares and long-term rates for private, serviced, beachside places that are quite enticing (beware the hard sell, though).
Each of the countries in Southeast Asia sets its own star standards for hotels, usually one through five. Note that a five-star might only be rated so because of the quantity, not quality, of services offered.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.