Hotels are a wonderful invention. Often too expensive for us as budget travellers – but after days in the slums of Mumbai or weeks of bare-floor sleeping in Tehran we do love to take a hotel room for a day or two to restore the optimism. What helps then is the selection of a few handy tips and tricks to save money on hotel bookings and make your hotel experience more enjoyable.
- Don’t prebook. Yes, non-refundable bookings are cheaper – but they are also extremely inflexible. Plus, the best chance to get a lower rate is to book within 24 hours of your stay. Hotels tend to slash prices to sell the vacant rooms – and you can have a great deal by simply walking in the hotel.
- Search online for prices. Seems obvious? You won’t believe how many people still use travel agents. Remember that booking with agencies will always result in added fees – so instead use websites like Expedia or Momondo.
- Call to book. I personally hate the hassle of talking to someone over the phone – but it does provide certain benefits over online booking. Talking with an actual person means you might get a discount or some extra perks such as free parking or complementary breakfast. Don’t be afraid to ask – hotel managers are wiling to negotiate to fill a room.
- Lock in the price. Many aggregation websites allow free cancellations for most reservations. Book a few options and monitor the price change. If the price drops you can always cancel for free and rebook – otherwise just keep the reservation.
- Ask for late check out / early check-in. Most hotels wont refuse if you ask nicely – and you get a precious extra hour of sleep. In Iran we used overnight buses and arrived to most hotels at 4-5am. All of them allowed us to check at that time free of charge – which meant we were able to bargain half a night for free (tip: extreme exhaustion and miserable looks significantly help in negotiations).
- Skip breakfast. It does come in handy but unless you are lodging in the middle of a national park you can surely find a cheaper breakfast in the nearest café.
- Get room upgrade. It is easier than you think, especially if you travel off-season. Helps to say you are on honeymoon / anniversary / any other celebration for that matter – and in addition to room upgrade you might get some free chocolates and champagne.
- Sign up for secret deals. SecretEscapes or Jetsetter offer up to 70% off for luxurious hotels for selected period of time. Trick is to ensure you know all the caveats: look for hidden fees, extra charges and blackout dates.
- Ask for an airport shuffle. Many hotels arrange pick up and drop off to the airports – so ask in advance. Even if they don’t – they might be willing to arrange it for you.
- Skip hotels altogether. Finally, forget all of the above – and save money on hotels by using alternative accommodation (check out our tips on the best options here). After all, even though hotels are convenient, B&Bs or couchsurfing offer not only cheaper but also a more authentic local travel experience.
If you liked this article, you might also enjoy: