How to save hundreds on hotel bookings
Follow our simple tips and you could find yourself saving hundreds on your next hotel booking.
Not so long ago, booking a hotel was a simple process that required little forethought and could be done over the telephone. Finding a reasonably priced hotel nowadays, however, is slightly more complicated, and can leave even the shrewdest of online shoppers feeling drained.
To spare you the mundane task of filtering through long lists of hotels, we’ve combed the internet for some of the best tricks, tips, apps and life-hacks for saving money on the cost of your stay—as well as spending less while you’re there.
Book at the right time
Considering when to book your room is important if you want the best price. If you know you’re going to be staying somewhere during high season, for example, you’re better off booking far in advance as the cheapest rooms tend to go first.
Likewise, if you’re staying at a hotel during the "shoulder season", you can probably stand to wait a while and book your room last minute. This will mean you’re more likely to snag a deal, as hotels prefer to sell their rooms at a reduced rate than leave them empty.
Book with the hotel directly
Since the rise of price-comparison sites, customers have started to move away from booking directly with a hotel as many feel they’re better off searching online. What many people don’t know is that hotels have to pay a commission to these sites, and the cost of that commission is sometimes passed on to customers in the form of less competitive pricing.
For this reason, many hotels have started to publish their prices online with price-match guarantees, which means you can call your prospective hotel to ask if they’ll honour a lower price if you find one elsewhere. Better yet, many hotels will not only beat the lower price, but they’ll also go one better and offer additional rewards, like an extra night’s stay or a free spa treatment for booking direct.
Opt for breakfast included
It’s long been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day—it gets your metabolism going and sets you up until lunch.
Therefore, instead of skipping breakfast and going "room only" to save on money, be on the lookout for hotels that include breakfast in the cost of your room.
This can often be cheaper than paying for just your room and then finding somewhere else to eat, particularly in expensive cities like London or Paris.
Sell your room
Sometimes even the best-laid plans can go awry and leave you with a hotel room you either can’t use or no longer need. Rather than kissing goodbye to the hard-earned money you spent on making the reservation, you can sell it on to someone else.
Websites like roomertravel.com are perfect for just such an occasion. You won't be able to recoup the full cost of the room, as these websites charge a small fee and offer the rooms at a discounted price to make sure they sell in time. However, getting a few quid back in your pocket is better than losing all the money you spent.
Use a VPN
Virtual private networks, also known as VPNs, are handy little pieces of software that you can install on almost any device. They work by encrypting your data before it leaves your phone or laptop so that anyone who wishes to intercept your data will have a tough time of deciphering whatever it is you send. That might not sound like it has much to do with booking hotels, but there are a whole range of uses for virtual private networks, and saving money is one of them.
As well as protecting your personal details when using notoriously insecure hotel WiFi networks, a VPN can trick the hotel’s website into thinking that you’re making your reservation from a different location.
This works because a lot of hotel websites use something called dynamic pricing to set the price of their rooms, which means someone making a reservation from London could be charged a higher price than someone booking from Cardiff. With a VPN, you can move between server locations and see which real-world location gets the cheapest deals, saving you money on your stay.
Avoid the hotel bar
Just like restaurants, hotels make a lot of money by selling marked-up drinks, which can make buying a few rounds at the bar eye-wateringly expensive. So, before you perch yourself at the bar for a few glasses of your favourite tipple, consider buying booze from somewhere cheaper and taking it back to your room.
If you’re worried your beer will get warm in a fridge-less room, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. Before lounging in front of the TV with a few tinnies, go to the bar and ask for a few glasses of ice. Then, once you’re back in your room, fill the bathroom sink with cold water, chuck in your ice, and hey presto! You have yourself a makeshift ice bucket, perfect for chilling drinks.
Tempting as it may be to book a hotel on price alone, don’t fall into the trap of just looking at cost. Not spending any time looking at what else the hotel has to offer, or taking a quick peek at the photos of the rooms, can cost you dearly upon arrival. Make sure you consider the whole package, from cost and location to quality and service.