Hotels are expensive - plain and simple. Even if you’re not looking for a 5-star stay, the price of a hotel usually ends up being the most expensive part of your travel plans, wouldn’t you agree?! Fortunately, there are some surefire ways to save on hotel expenses. Here are seven of our favorite tricks and tips to find more affordable hotels and cut down on your hotel costs.
It sounds obvious and simple, but shopping around online to compare prices is one of the best ways to find affordable hotel rates. Check general travel booking websites - like Travelocity, Orbitz, Priceline, and Expedia - as well as specific hotel websites to see if they are running any specials or promotions. You can also use metasearch websites like Kayak, TripAdvisor, and Trivago to search multiple hotel booking sites at one time in order to see which one offers the lowest rates. Lastly, don’t forget to check hotel discount reservation sites like, Hotels.com, for even more deals!
As long as you’re not dead-set on staying in a specific hotel, try conducting your search based on price rather than property, with websites like Priceline and Hotwire. With these sites, you typically don’t know what hotel you’re staying at until it’s booked, but you’re still able to enter all of your desired search criteria, such as location, quality, etc. Booking this way may be a bit more intimidating, but can save you a significant amount of money.
Hotel rates are based heavily on timing, including time of the week and time of the year. Therefore, being flexible with your travel dates can get you some pretty awesome deals. While many hotels that are popular among vacationers are cheaper midweek, there are some that mostly serve business travelers, meaning these often have better weekend deals. There are also best and worst times of the year to book hotels. For example, it’s best to book in Europe during the winter time, as the peak season is actually during the summertime. You can even find out the best times to stay in certain locations by using Google Hotel Finder.
If you haven’t yet found any hotels in your price range, consider taking your search elsewhere - like to smaller properties, like bed and breakfasts, hostels, vacation rentals, and independently-owned hotels. These locations actually tend to provide more for less. Keep in mind that these smaller properties won’t typically appear on the major travel booking websites, so you may want to look on TripAdvisor to find them, and then use the property’s website to book your stay.
There are plenty of websites out there that offer a wide variety of awesome daily deals, including offers on travel and vacation expenses. Some favorites include Groupon and LivingSocial. Just remember, these deals are super popular and don’t last long, so be sure to jump on them as soon as you see them!
While this isn’t really possible (or recommended) for a big, expensive vacation, it is a great option for a short romantic getaway or a weekend ski trip. Hotel managers are often willing to lower their room rates in order to get the last of their rooms filled, so taking advantage of these last-minute specials is definitely a smart move if you can deal with the flexibility and spontaneity or waiting. There are even last-minute booking apps, like HotelTonight, that work closely with some hotels to get steep discounts on unsold rooms. In addition, many online booking sites, like Priceline and Expedia, have a special section to find last-minute deals on hotel stays.
When all else fails, call the hotel directly to see if the manager will match or beat other hotel rates you may have found online during your search. If they won’t do this, sometimes they’ll at least throw in some extras, like complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi, or late checkout. Calling the hotel directly, rather than the 800 number, is key, as 800 agents are usually not authorized to negotiate room rates. Hotel managers and employees are more familiar with availability and specials and typically have more flexibility with rates. Some hotels even have “fallback rates” that they will offer to people who are resisting the original price, as they would much rather make a little bit less money on an occupied room than no money at all on an empty room.