How To Spend Less On Hotels
Booking a hotel room is easy but saving money while you do it takes a bit more tact. Where you stay can make or break the whole trip, so it’s important that you find a hotel that’s not only cheap but also comfortable, clean and in a good location. While some of these tips revolve around clever scheduling, others require virtually no effort at all. All that’s needed is a bit of pre-planning and flexibility and you could find yourself making massive savings on your hotel stays – money you can put towards enjoying your getaway. Each of these 12 hacks can help you to shave some extra cash off your bill without having to compromise on a great travel experience.
1. Book directly with the hotel
Hotels often guarantee the lowest possible prices on their rooms to avoid paying commission to sites like Expedia or Booking and to encourage customers to book with them directly. If you manage to find a lower price anywhere else online, it’s worth contacting the hotel to see if they’ll match or even lower the price for the same room. Alternatively, they may be willing to throw in some added extras to make booking with them worthwhile, such as a free night or a larger room as an incentive.
2. Join the loyalty program for free
Joining the chain’s loyalty program can offer some great perks and it’s usually free to become a member, although some may request a nominal fee. But if you often stay at the same hotel chain, then it’s worth it for the savings you could benefit from. These can include anything from a free breakfast or dinner to an upgrade to a larger room – all for nothing. And if the program allows you to rack up points through your stays, you might even be able to earn enough to pay for your room entirely. It’s worth becoming a member of a few different hotel loyalty programs so you can prioritise the ones which suit the destination you’re travelling to.
3. Negotiate lower rates for longer stays
If your trip will last longer than seven days, it’s worth inquiring about a discounted rate for extended stays. While you can, of course, book your stay online and get an extended stay discount, you’re more likely to make bigger savings if you contact the hotel directly. You may need to pay for your stay in advance to secure the rate, but most hotels will let you make staggered payments to clear the balance over a period of time.
4. Book during off-peak seasons
While taking a trip during the height of summer might sound tempting, be prepared to pay far more for your hotel rates and airfare for the privilege. Travelling at a different time of the year, even just a few weeks later, can make all the difference to the overall cost. This period immediately before or after a peak season is known as the shoulder season, meaning you’ll still make great savings while benefitting from the great weather as well. The same can be said for which day of the week you stay on too. Many hotel aggregator sites offer lists of when is cheapest to travel to specific destinations, so you can gauge when is the best time to go, as well as where the cheapest places in the world to travel to are.
If you’re able to be flexible with your travel dates, try to book during the week as weekday rates are usually much lower than weekend rates. It’s not always possible to travel mid-week because of work commitments, so if this is the case you can look for deals where you get Sunday night free if you stay Friday and Saturday. This will mean you only need to take one day off work, but you’ll make a decent saving on your stay.
5. Choose your location wisely
It’s a knee-jerk reaction when booking a hotel to only choose those as close to the city centre as possible, as we feel like we’re missing out on the action if we book anywhere else, but don’t be afraid to search a little further afield. That prime location comes with a hefty price tag but booking a hotel on the outskirts and taking a short ride on public transport to get into the city will save you a lot of money.
Most destinations will have some form of travel pass to bring the costs of public transport down anyway, and even with this it often means a cheaper stay overall. It also gives you the opportunity to explore the other neighbourhoods in your destination that aren’t the typical tourist spots. This is often how you find the unique areas that really make your trip, so don’t be wary of thinking outside the box when it comes to where your hotel is situated.
6. Book non-refundable rates
Aside from the ability to cancel without a charge, you won’t be making a huge saving by booking a refundable rate. A smarter alternative, if you’re sure that you won’t need any flexibility on dates for your trip, is to book the non-refundable rate as these are typically much cheaper and will save you more money.
If you think you might need to move your dates around, choose the best available refundable rate instead and then check back periodically to see if any discounts or hotel promotions have been added. If you spot a better price, you can simply cancel your previous booking and book your room at the cheaper rate. Some sites even offer a service to email you when hotel rates change. So, if there’s a hotel you particularly want to stay at, you can monitor the prices and get an update when the price drops.
7. Use your credit card perks
If you use a credit card, it might be in your best interest to check out the perks that come with your existing card provider. Most credit cards have some variation of a rewards system that enables you to cash in points for goods or services, including hotel stays. Using your card to make purchases instead of your debit card or cash will see you rack up valuable points that can be redeemed later on to get you a cheaper, or even free, hotel room. Some card companies have reward systems in place for specific hotel chains while others are more flexible, so check the fine print with your card provider. Or you may want to consider switching to one which offers better perks, such as double points when you use the card with a particular hotel chain.
8. Avoid booking solely on name recognition
If you’re booking a hotel based purely on the name, you could be adding to your bill unnecessarily. Some hotels are named after other famous hotels elsewhere or made to sound more luxurious than they really are, so always check the reviews before you finalise your booking. Some good sites to browse before making your decision are TripAdvisor, Booking and Kayak, where you’ll have the chance to see what others who have stayed there really think. If there’s only a couple of negative reviews, it’s not a cause for concern – some things are just a matter of personal preference – but if there are numerous bad comments then reconsider your choice to stay there. You could wind up paying more for less in this situation.
9. Skip the breakfast buffet
Unless your hotel breakfast is included as part of your stay, avoid paying extra for your morning meal. Having your breakfast outside of the hotel is not only cheaper but you’ll have access to a much wider variety of options, get to experience the local cuisine and have the chance to really explore the culture of your destination. And even if you choose to eat the same types of food you’d eat at the hotel restaurant, chances are they’ll taste much nicer from a local café or bakery, and you’ll save some cash in the process. Another option is to buy food from the local supermarket on your first day and store perishables in the hotel minibar fridge, so you can make your own breakfast each morning and save a bit of extra cash this way instead.
10. Compare rates across different sites
In the same way that airfare aggregators compare flight prices for different airlines, hotel booking aggregators let you compare the price of hotel rooms through different sites. If you know where (and roughly when) you want to go, sites like this are great for helping you to save both time and money. And while you may be aware to check across different sites, many people don’t realise that the platform they use also makes a big difference. Prices on mobiles, whether you’re using a browser or an app, might be cheaper than the desktop version, so it’s worth doing a quick comparison to make sure you’re not overspending where you don’t need to.
11. Use your phone as your movie provider
While the cable service itself leaves a lot to be desired in most hotels, the cost of watching a few movies over the course of your trip can really stack up. However, most hotels offer a pretty great flat screen TV and if there’s free Wi-Fi service then you can hook up your phone, tablet or computer to the TV using a HDMI port to stream your favourite Netflix shows via Google Chromecast. If you travel on a regular basis, buying a HDMI cable will be worth the one-off expense to save you the cost of paying per movie every time you go away, plus you’ll have a lot more choice of things to watch rather than being limited to the hotel offerings.
12. Skip the added extras
Staying at a hotel with lots of added amenities is a nice luxury, but it’s a luxury that you wind up paying extra for. When you make your booking, check whether the stay includes things like breakfast, late check-out, use of the gym and spa, or luggage storage if you have a late flight home and want to make the best use of your leftover time in the city. While some of these extras are often free, there may be a charge which could soon add up on check-out so double check before you use them to avoid paying for them unexpectedly.
Another way to avoid paying more than you need to is to be careful which room type you’re booking. Having a fancy room with a seating area and an oversized bathroom is lovely but how much are you likely to use or need the extra space? Chances are you’ll be spending most of your time away exploring the destination itself rather than spending time in your room, so opt for a standard room to minimise your spending.
Travelling is always worth the monetary investment and making memories abroad is great fun. But not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to stay with friends or family when they travel to different destinations, so knowing how to save a bit of extra money on hotel stays can really help to slim down the total cost of your trip. Rather than be limited to how much fun you can afford by sticking to the first rates you find, doing a bit of extra digging around and planning in advance could help you keep to a budget and ensure you have plenty of money for the things you really want to spend on when you go away, such as food, drink and experiences. Everything from doing your own laundry when you stay at a hotel to using cashback sites, along with the tips above, can soon mount up to a decent amount of money in your wallet that would otherwise have just been spent on your room.