In Paris’s Sixth Arrondissement, $45,000 could cover a year’s lease on a studio apartment within walking distance of the Luxembourg Gardens. Alternatively, you could spend a single night in the Suite Coco Chanel at the Ritz.

Bad news for those who dare to dream of a long weekend in Paris, Rome, Venice, London, or even Positano: the stratospheric prices are not reserved for the Ritz. As of press time, a three-night stay from Friday, July 12, to Monday, July 15, will cost $17,187 for a suite at the Aman Venice; $7,425 at Villa La Coste, in Provence; $5,683 for Raffles London at the O.W.O.; and $4,716 at the (classic but tired) Hassler, in Rome. And that’s before factoring in taxes, tips, room-service cappuccinos, and, God forbid, a bottle of Taittinger from the mini-bar.

Jules Maury, the head of Scott Dunn Private, a London-based travel consultancy that works with some of the deepest pockets around, describes the cost of European travel as “berserk.” Even her eyes watered when she received that quote from the Ritz—and she was offered a discount. The rack rate is $50,000.

To lounge from Friday to Monday in the Alcova Tiepolo Suite, at the storied Aman Venice, will easily cost five figures.

It wasn’t always this way. Not so long ago, “$800 or $1,000 a night sounded really punchy,” says Carolyn Addison, the creative director of bespoke travel agency Black Tomato. “Now you can’t even get in the door.”

A long weekend stay at the delightful Villa La Coste, in Provence, will set you back more than $7,000.

Matt Butler, the founder of an educational-consultancy firm, spent the early months of the pandemic marooned at the Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club, in Surfside, Florida. He paid around $600 per night, often receiving the fourth night for free. Today, that same room would likely set him back $3,000. “I know that hotels really got hit during this time, and my heart goes out to them,” he says. “But they’re just alienating the clientele that always loved that property.”

What’s going on? Inflation is partly responsible, in particular the rising costs of fuel and shipping. (Those disposable slippers and nail files can’t get themselves out of China.) But the most considerable cost is human capital. The European Union, which provided 11 million hospitality jobs in 2022, is suffering from a prolonged labor shortage. It’s due to all sorts of things, from immigration restrictions to the industry’s reputation for long hours, low wages, and few advancement opportunities.

“Retaining talent has become challenging for every hotel business,” says Chris Orlikowski, director of global communications at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. “That also comes at a cost…. The [client] expectations have gone up, so from a service point of view, everyone has to step it up.”

Not so long ago, “$800 or $1,000 a night sounded really punchy. Now you can’t even get in the door.”

Higher salaries are just the starting point. Like many of its peers, Mandarin Oriental has invested heavily in recruitment, sending talent-spotters to Europe’s most prestigious hospitality schools. They’ve also built and expanded training programs for all employees, supporting their advancement through every level of the organization.

But the real reason that you’ve got to I.P.O. before even thinking about spending August in Amalfi? Supply and demand, says Addison. The rich are continuing to get richer, and there are many, many more of them. Today, according to Statista, a data company, there are 59 million millionaires on the planet; in 2000, there were only 15 million. As a result of the war in Ukraine, the Russian presence has evaporated, but clients from the Gulf are as price-insensitive as ever. Things are only going to get worse once demand from the Chinese—who have been slow to return to Europe in the post-coronavirus era—recovers.

Three nights at the renowned Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club, in Florida, will provide little change from $10,000.

Today, however, most savvy hoteliers are fussing over the Americans. Still scarred from pandemic travel restrictions, they’re eager to get out and see the world, and they won’t be deterred by sticker shock. “They’re fueling that entire market,” says Maury. “There are more who are coming up to that magic retirement age or who have retired early, and they are traveling longer and further.”

They especially love Italy: between May and August of 2023, two million tourists arrived at Italian airports; 26 percent of them were Americans. Perhaps that’s why a room at Il San Pietro di Positano can go for $1,800?

A night at Il San Pietro di Positano, on the Amalfi Coast, is not for the light of wallet.

At least that $32 Aperol spritz will look good on the ’Gram. The siren song of social media is also encouraging hoteliers to raise their rates, says Addison. “In the 90s, you wouldn’t ever send someone a postcard: ‘Hi, I’m staying in a junior suite at Hôtel de Crillon, and I’m having a great time,’” she says. “Now that you can signal that on social media, some people believe it’s worth it to spend an extra $500 a night.”

All of this is coming at a cost. “To some degree, you want to identify with the people around you,” says a London-based entrepreneur and recent defector from the palace hotels he frequented for the first 40 years of his life. “You’re paying five times more than you probably think is reasonable, and it’s awful. The hotels are now entirely geared to a set of guests with a kind of taste that is no longer shared [by the old guard]. All those people sitting around, bossing the staff, being rude, loud, ostentatious—they’re making you feel like luxury is ugly.”

For decades, he spent the winter holidays at a five-star hotel in Gstaad, but recently he bought a small chalet in one of the smaller neighboring villages to insulate himself—and his young family—from the excess and bad behavior. It was an extreme reaction, he concedes, but at least “you’re not showing a horrible example to your children.”

These five-star hotels are not only prohibitively expensive for those who’d like to stay there. They’re also a turnoff for the fashionable locals and younger globe-trotters who used to create hot spots out of grande dames such as the Bauer in Venice and the Four Seasons Hotel Milano. But, alas, the days of the affordable aperitif are over, and while they’ll miss those fried olives, they’ll take their scenes elsewhere, thank you.

“It’s an almost depressing malaise in these lobbies,” says Butler. “They should be happening, fun environments. [The hotels] spend a lot of money decorating them, but if there are no people in them, or if the people that are in them are just over it, it doesn’t make it fun.”

A night at the Mandarin Oriental Ritz, in Madrid, and a day at its spa, offers surprisingly good value.

The great irony is that many vibe-seeking guests paying thousands of dollars a night are no longer spending much time at their hotel at all because they’re simply not hip. “Once you’ve finished your meal at some really cool restaurant—because that’s what you’ve had to do—you come back and look at the price for two glasses of wine, and it hurts,” says Maury. “That’s not the dolce vita anymore.”

At least that $32 Aperol spritz will look good on the ’Gram.

Both Addison and Maury confirm that some of their most discerning clients are changing course and booking moderately priced destinations such as Prague, Munich, and Stockholm. The Mandarin Oriental Ritz, in Madrid, has no shortage of splendor and, at $3,873 for that long weekend in July, delivers an awful lot of value. (Wait till you try the jamón ibérico at breakfast.)

Among travel experts, there’s a consensus that we’ve arrived at a new normal; barring an act of God, prices will not decline anytime soon. But don’t despair. Butler used to while away the summer at the toniest spots on the French and Italian Rivieras; this year, he’s rented a car and cobbled together a road trip through Sicily, hitting up Cefalù, Agrigento, Noto, and the Egadi Islands.

“I think they have a lot of life in these places, but I don’t know them,” he says. “My inclination was to go back to my favorite spots, but now I’m leaning the other way.”

Ashley Baker is a Deputy Editor at AIR MAIL and a co-host of the Morning Meeting podcast