Your hotel room takes up a significant part of your travel budget. But did you know you may be spending way more than you need to? Read these 16 tips to discover how you can get the best deal when booking your next hotel room.
There are 2 key components to securing the best hotel deal: flexibility and experimentation. If you’re willing to sacrifice things like specific dates and locations, and try out different things on this list, you’ll find you can unlock great savings and value for money.
1. Compare different sites
The first thing you might think to do is go to your favorite comparison site. These are great for getting an idea of what’s out there. But hotels have various deals with different comparison sites. It helps to shop around and see which one will deliver you the best deal. Different OTAs can also have different promotions at different times to their competitors in order to steal some of their customers.
Comparison sites are handy for getting an overview of the cheapest or best hotels in the area. But once you’ve got an idea of where you want to stay, you should also check directly on the hotel website. They often offer better deals so they can avoid paying commissions to the OTAs. As well as cheaper prices, they often reserve their bigger and better rooms for direct bookings.
Booking.com is the usual that everyone knows, but if you want to check other options that are as good, here are the 10 best booking.com alternatives.
2. Play with different dates
Hotels increase their prices based on demand and availability. Days with high demand and low availability can be more expensive and the reason isn’t always obvious. If you have the flexibility to tweak your dates, you may find that coming a day earlier or later can make a big difference to the final price.
If possible, check in on a weekday when the hotel is quieter and has extra beds to fill. Check that there aren’t any large events in the area that could ramp up prices. Weekends and public holidays are always going to be a little more expensive. Check the section below to see how you can get a better deal during these times.
3. Time your booking well
For big events and public holidays, it pays off to book several weeks in advance. Rooms get booked up fast and hotels can afford to up their rates when supply is low. Leaving it to the last minute may result in you paying extortionate rates to get the room you want. Whereas booking early when there is still a lot of space will keep your costs lower.
On the other hand, booking at the last minute can be high risk but high reward. Outside of peak times, this is a good strategy to secure a great hotel deal. If you have the flexibility to leave your booking to the last minute, you may find that it pays off. No-shows and cancellations can leave hotels with empty beds. If hotels have space left at the last minute, they often drop the prices so they don’t miss out on lost revenue. Certain OTAs also drop last-minute deals a day or two before the booking.
Same-day bookings are risky but can get you the best results. On average, hotel rooms are 10% cheaper if you book on the same day. If you wait until after 4 pm, hotels know that the chances of selling their spare rooms are slim which gives you room to negotiate.
If you want to find out more about timing your booking to secure the best deal, read on our article about the best times and days to book a hotel room.
4. Look for promotion codes
It’s easy to miss that small promo code box when you go to make your booking, but it can lead to huge savings. Search the internet for promotion codes and vouchers you can apply on the website you’re using. These aren’t always explicit on the site and may take some more googling. If you’re a student or in the military, you may be entitled to extra discounts.
Many hotels and OTAs utilize email marketing to entice extra customers. Sign up for as many newsletters and mailing lists as you can as it may help you snag a hidden discount. You can also install plugins on your browser to automatically search for any existing voucher codes when you check out.
5. Speak to the hotel directly
Want to stay at a specific hotel but can’t quite make your budget stretch? Pick up the phone and see if you can negotiate a better rate with the hotel. Often, they may be willing to drop their advertised price but they don’t want this to be public knowledge. They might offer you a price match guarantee or let you sacrifice some amenities in exchange for a cheaper stay.
Never underestimate the power of charisma. Be polite and friendly to get the staff on your side. If you work for a reputable company, it also wouldn’t hurt to do some name-dropping.
Booking directly to the hotel has its merits but it’s not always a smooth process. Here’s our article comparing direct booking vs via OTA, you’ll find the points useful for your next hotel booking session.
Calling ahead is also an opportunity to discuss any unique requirements you need for your booking. If you want to know what else you should discuss when you call the hotel, read this article on what to ask when booking a hotel room.
6. Stay in a different area
Being in the center of a destination offers ultimate convenience. Hotels know this and charge prime rates to stay in the best locations. But if you stay in an area with good public transport and easy access to all the things you want to do, it may pay off to stay further away.
Real estate outside of popular locations is cheaper so the cost savings pass straight onto your final price. Hotels out of the center are often larger and more relaxed. Less busy locations also mean quieter restaurants and more of a local feel. You might even discover a cool new neighborhood outside of the main tourist drag.
7. Rack up points wherever possible
There are endless ways to rack up points that you can use towards your next trip. From supermarket rewards programs to travel credit cards, you can soon collect a large number of points to pay for your next hotel room. They often have deals with the major travel booking sites. Who would have thought that filling up your car would also pay for your next vacation?
If you regularly stay in big brand hotels, they often have their own points system so you continue to book with them. While they may be more expensive in the short term, you can make huge savings if you keep going back and get lots of perks each time you stay.
8. Book for longer
Longer stays reduce costs for hotels. They don’t have to do more check-ins or room changes and it guarantees occupancy. For this reason, they often reduce the nightly price the more days you stay. Play around with different lengths of stay and see what difference it makes. If you’re staying for a few days, they might give you a better room to make your stay more comfortable.
Wanted to visit a lot of different places? Consider using a central place as a base and doing road trips each day instead. This means that you get the benefit of the discount from a longer stay but still get to check off everything on your list. It also means less moving around and more time to get to know the area.
9. Watch out for hidden charges
Sometimes when you book a room, the price you confirm might not be the price you end up paying. Extra charges like key deposits or damages might make your stay more expensive than you expected. To get the lowdown on hidden charges a hotel can make, read this article on whether a hotel can charge your card after you’ve checked out.
10. Compare booking a bundle vs booking separately
Booking a package that includes transport or car hire can sometimes get you a better room. If a travel agent has a bundle for specific dates that they’re trying to get rid of, you may be able to snag a great deal. It also offers you the convenience of having all your travel details in one place.
However, you should also consider that when you do this, they are working with multiple third parties who all have to fork out for a commission. These charges may end up being passed onto you. Compare both ways and see which one gives you the best outcome.
11. It’s not always about the price
While a hotel room may seem expensive, you often get extra perks that make you cost savings in the long run. Extras such as free breakfast and complimentary drinks can save you money elsewhere. If the hotel is far away from the things you want to do, you may end up forking out more for public transport.
You may also get a bigger room or extra amenities so that you can have a more comfortable stay. You may miss out on the free breakfast or access to the lavish hotel spa. When you book, simple tricks like requesting a corner room can get you more space and value for money.
12. Should you clear your cookies?
There has been some debate on whether clearing your cookies will get you better travel deals. The original thought was that websites can track your activity on sites and raise the prices so that you panic and book before the cheapest price is gone. Another theory is that other companies can see your activity and advertise cheaper prices to you to undercut their competitors.
In 2023, it’s difficult to know what the verdict is. As laws crack down on privacy and confidentiality, cookies are becoming less of a concern than they were a few years ago. If you want to test the waters, try searching on more than one device and see if you end up with a better deal.
13. Book in advance without free cancellation
Hotels have the potential to lose large amounts of revenue when customers cancel last minute. If you’re organized and think you can definitely get to your destination, book without the free cancellation. You’ll usually get a much better discount. But if for some reason you can’t make your trip, you may have to pay out for cancellation and admin fees.
14. Buy someone else’s reservation
Many people can’t go on their trip for various reasons. Often, they’re unable to cancel their booking and want to find a way to make their money back. There are now marketplaces where people can sell their existing bookings to people looking for a cheap room. Although it gives you less flexibility on timings and specific hotels, this is a good tactic to snag a hidden bargain.
15. Shop around if you’re going in a group
If you’re a large group, contact hotels directly and see if they’ll give you a group discount. This is a great way for hotels to increase occupancy and larger groups tend to spend more money in the hotel bar and restaurant. This also makes it more likely that you’ll get rooms close together, rather than at opposite ends of the hotel.
You could also consider alternative forms of accommodation. Renting out a house or apartment may be more economical when split between a group. It also gives you added privacy and space to spend time together.
16. Book a business hotel
Business hotels often struggle with occupancy at the weekends and during the summer. This often means that they have to drop their prices to entice customers. If you don’t want to pay weekend prices, this could be a good option for you.
Business hotels must maintain high standards to please their clientele. Rooms are usually comfortable and modern. They’re also quieter and have great Wi-Fi. So if you book this way you know you’re getting a high-quality room at a reasonable price.
To wrap up
There are a lot of different ways to get a great hotel deal. The most important thing is to not take the first price you see. Shop around to find better deals and get an idea of what you should be paying. If you can be flexible, you’ll often find that you can get much better value for your money. Next time you’re searching for a hotel room, experiment with the trips above and see what amazing deals you can find.
Now that you’re armed with these 16 tips, you can start your exploration on these 6 recommended hotel booking sites.