Traveling is an expensive business, and nobody wants to pay more than they need to. You go to great lengths to find a gratifyingly good deal for your flights, and when you arrive at your destination you don’t want to bump into someone who has paid less than you for the same accommodation. Avoiding paying more for your hotel than you need to is an essential art for the savvy traveler. The main thing is to get the timing right.
Some hotels offer cheap deals well in advance, but on the whole, you will get the best prices late in the day when they are desperate to sell rooms. Booking within the no-cancellation period will often bring the best offers.
If you really have to be certain of a specific day in a particular hotel, then book ahead and make a note of the last date by which you can cancel without charge. Check the prices again on that day—if they are cheaper, cancel and re-book.
Follow the Market
Online services keep track of hotel price fluctuations, just as they do with airlines. Sign up to a notification service for the hotels you are interested in and, when the price seems to drop, step in and book your room.
If a hotel is mainly aimed at a particular market, there are likely to be more vacancies (and therefore cheaper prices) at seasonal times. For instance, business-focused hotels are likely to be cheaper during the vacation season—vice versa for family hotels.
Making a habit of using a particular hotel or chain is one way to get lower prices without the guesswork. Marriott’s is a worldwide chain and you can get points in any of their premises. So, if you have built up a lot of points in California, you can use them when you head east and stay at the Marriott Renaissance Baltimore.
It is often worth booking directly with a hotel, rather than through the chain’s central reservation number or a booking website, as they can be more flexible with the price and any perks on offer, especially if you have those loyalty points.
The opposite tactic to loyalty is to take a lucky-dip approach. Some sites enable you to book a mystery hotel at a reduced rate. They should guarantee the standard that you can expect, but they tend not to be refundable if you find you dislike the offer.
Alternatively, there are sites where you can make an offer of what you want to pay and hotels can bid for your custom. You can also submit the price of a refundable booking you have, and see if other hotels can beat it.
Play the Game
Getting a good deal on your hotel can seem like a game of cat-and-mouse, but it is all part of the process of making a deal. You want a room, they have a room to sell to you—it is just a matter of finding the price that is acceptable to both.