Search for Unique Offers
Newly opened hotels are inclined to offer bargain room rates to get bums on beds. 50% discounts and ‘3 for 2’ style deals are not uncommon. Here, Google News is your best friend and a good place to start. Search for your city + hotel + opening soon /recently opened etc. (you get the picture) and track down a bargain. Also, sift though the bigger industry publications, such as Hoteldesigns & Hotelnewsresource, to get a feel for what’s going on and then sound the hotels out directly.
Use and Abuse Hotel Comparison Sites
These sites are cropping up all over the internet, with many offering different prices on the same accommodation over the same period. Crazy but true. Price checking over several sites can help find the cheapest deal over the widest range of accommodation and also familiarize you with your destination. Here are a few to kick things off:-
LateRooms Sortable searches (by distance from center/grade/price/rating etc) and google map friendly.
HotelsComparison Doesn’t search a huge amount of rooms, but easy to navigate and use.
MoneySupermarket Massive search, but very broad.
Go to the Auctions
Another way to stay in a posh hotel at a spectacularly discounted price is by bidding for it. Room auctions and bidding sites are a clever way for hotels to shift vacant rooms without alienating their regular, premium paying customer base.
Although there are around approximately 4 kajillion accommodation auction websites out there, Priceline has to be a favourite thanks to it’s multi bid loophole. Taking advantage of this can bag a cheaper room and see savings of around 70%. For the full lowdown on this and other links to help you win the bidding war, read Martin Lewis’ Priceline bidding article.
Scan Individual Travel Agent’s Websites
It can be time consuming, but some travel agents are willing to flog some apartments and rooms at ridiculously cheap rates just to shift them.
Thomsons are renowned for this, and their £1 plus deals really do exist. These cheap deals generally crop up during a destination’s off-peak times or relate to either unestablished hotels or unestablished areas. It’s a gamble, but even if it does turn out to be crappy it’s only cost you a quid. Thankfully, just like happy hour, it’s always off peak somewhere in the world.
Avoid Tourism Epicenters
Instead of paying a premium to stay right in the heart of a popular district, consider cheaper deals offered in alternative locations. It sounds like a no brainer, but you still have to choose wisely. Money saved in terms of cheaper accommodation has to be weighed up against the extra time and money spent getting to where you ultimately want to be.
Do a bit of research. Is it viable to stay in a cheaper area and still get the most from your stay? Check transport links and costs, walking times, safety issues etc and weigh up if there is much to be gained from a cheaper, alternative location. Sometimes it really pays off, resulting in a better room at a fraction of the epicenter rate.
For example, the hotel room at the north end of Central Park will generally cost a lot less than, say, the same standard of room overlooking Times Square, yet the regular and inexpensive public transport system will leave you laughing all the way to the bank.
Be Flexible on your Destination
Think in terms of supply and demand. The more empty rooms in an area, the higher the chances are of finding a cheap deal on accommodation. You don’t have to settle for a weekend in Kabul instead of Krakow, but just as places have their peak times, such as New York at Christmas or Pamplona when the bulls are running, they also have their quieter periods – that’s when room prices get slashed, it becomes a buyers market and you’ll find dirt cheap deals a plenty.
Be Flexible on your Times
Particularly if you are planning a short break, try and stay midweek instead of weekends. Again, it’s the old supply and demand routine. In addition, midweek flights are generally cheaper, too.
Cast the Net Wide
Hostels, guesthouses and budget hotels aren’t always the cheapest accommodation options. Keep your options open and include more ‘upmarket’ establishments within the searches - it could land you a bargain since there is a fair bit of price crossover. I’m constantly astonished by how - and this is in exactly the same area - it’s not uncommon to find some 1 star hotels charging more than several of the 2 stars, and sometimes even the cheapest 3 star.
Book in Advance
Where possible, try and plan ahead. Failing that, don’t plan at all. Booking a room more than 3 weeks in advance can secure great deals otherwise unavailable closer to the departure date, but if you can’t book early to get the cheapest deal, book very, very late.
Read the Small Print
Buyer beware. Just because a deal on a room comes up as the cheapest during an internet search, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it IS the cheapest. Check the small print to ensure there aren’t any extra hidden costs.
Similar in nature to the fuel taxes/check in levies/baggage fees etc on low cost flights, hotels may not wish to include mandatory extra surcharges, such as a room tax or breakfast, in the quoted price. If you are booking via a hotel comparison site, read the hotel’s blurb very carefully and always check the customer reviews.
If you (yes, you there) have any more tips on how to get decent deals on rooms, please share them with us.