Along with flights, accommodation tends to be one of the most expensive costs when travelling. Here are a few tricks that could help you to lower the cost of accommodation so that your money can go further.
Use hotel booking sites – but book directly
Hotel booking sites like Booking.com and Expedia are great places to hunt for cheap deals. They compare all local accommodation in a certain area, helping you to find the cheapest price.
But did you know that you can sometimes get an even better deal by booking directly with the hotel rather than booking through these third-party sites? While the rates are fixed online, it’s possible to ring up a hotel directly and negotiate them down even further. You also don’t have third-party booking fees to worry about (many sites have got rid of these, but some still have them).
The exception to this is if you book last minute. Last minute deals offered on booking sites tend to be cheaper than anything you’ll get directly, so it’s worth booking through these third-party sites to secure these deals.
Ever found a hotel on a booking site and returned to it later only to find that the prices have gone up? This is because that site has stored cookies on your device. It uses these cookies to track the fact that you are a return visitor and takes advantage of your further interest by pushing up the price, hoping that you’ll go ahead and book anyway.
Browsing in incognito mode prevents such sites from storing cookies so that you’re always getting the cheapest first-time deal. Another option could be to delete your cookies and history after visiting booking sites.
Consider the location
The location of a hotel can have a big impact on the price. The most expensive hotels tend to be in prime locations – a prime location being anywhere that’s got convenient access to local attractions or stunning views.
If you’re staying near the coast, for instance, you’ll pay a lot more for a room on the beachfront than a hotel a couple streets back without a sea view. Similarly, a hotel in the centre of Paris is likely to be much more expensive than a hotel on the outskirts.
Opting to stay outside of a city instead of in the city is an effective way in which many travellers save money, but you need to be certain that the cost of transport into the city doesn’t compensate for this. You’ll also be wasting more time getting around, which may not be suitable if you’re only travelling somewhere for a couple days.
Time it right
Timing is everything when getting the best price on a hotel. This includes when you book and when you stay. Below are some great tips when it comes to timing:
Avoid peak season/national holidays: If you’re not restricted to certain dates, try to avoid travelling in peak season or on national holidays. Because of the popularity, many hotels push up their prices as a way of taking advantage of this.
Take short mid-week break: Weekends are more popular periods for attracting guests. As a result, many hotels slash their prices during the week as a way of encouraging visitors during these times. If you were planning a weekend away somewhere, consider whether it could be cheaper to book a couple days off mid-week instead.
Book multiple nights at the same hotel: Rather than booking multiple hotels in the same area, consider booking one hotel for several nights. The more nights you book, the cheaper per night you pay.
Book far in advance or book last minute: Most people book a hotel a couple months in advance. However you can get often get discounts by booking early (over six months in advance) or by booking last minute (less than two weeks in advance). Hotels are eager to fill room in advance but they’re also eager to fill them last minute, and so tend to offer discounts as incentives.
Be wary of hidden extra costs
It’s easy to get caught out by hidden extra costs. As a result, you should always read the small print and check the amenities before booking a room. A few of the common hidden costs include:
Food and drink: Unless your hotel is advertised as ‘all-inclusive’, you’ll often have to pay extra for meals and drinks. If you plan to eat or drink at the hotel, consider looking up the menu online or ringing up to get an idea of prices.
Wi-fi: Some hotels will charge guests for wi-fi usage. This is usually an individual charge per day. For those that need the internet while travelling, make sure to look into this before booking.
Parking: Parking isn’t always included with the room rate either. This can be a big hidden cost if you’re arriving by car.
Late check-out: Checking out of your room late could result in a late-checkout fee in many hotels. Avoid this by making sure that you check out on time.
Late check-in: Planning on arriving at the hotel after midnight? There could even be a late check-in fee in these cases, regardless of whether there’s a receptionist on the desk.
Resort fees: Common in America, some hotels will charge a resort fee upfront, which can include the use of everything from wi-fi to towels. This isn’t included in the room rate and is generally listed in small print. It’s compulsory to pay it, even if you don’t want the extras. As a result, it’s wise to check for this cost before booking any hotel at a resort.
Consider hotel reward schemes
Many big hotel chains have membership clubs that can be worth joining for discounts. Most of these membership clubs allow customers to collect points every time they stay at one of the chain’s hotels. After collecting a certain amount of points, you can usually spend these points. This could allow you to get a heavily discounted room (or even a free room, if you’ve saved up enough points).
Such clubs are only worth joining if you’re likely to travel places in which that particular hotel chain is found. For instance, go to any city in the world and you’ll generally find a Hilton or Marriott hotel. However, if you spend most of your time visiting rural towns, such chains may not be available.
Travel with other people
When you travel with other people, it’s possible to share rooms and split the cost. Twin rooms tend to be more expensive than single rooms, but even so the cost is only relatively a little more – so that when the price is split, you’re spending much less than you would for two single rooms.
Even if you are travelling solo, you may be able to find travel buddies along the way to stay with. This guide Solo Traveling Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Alone offers more information on how to do this. It could save you a lot of money.
With a large group, you can even consider accommodation options such as rental accommodation. This can work out much cheaper than a hotel.
Try alternatives to hotels
Hotels aren’t the only form of accommodation. By trying out other forms of accommodation, you can often save yourself money. A few examples of cheaper alternative accommodation include:
Rental accommodation: Renting a villa to share between six people is likely to cost much less than three two-bed hotel rooms. If you’re travelling with a large group, rental accommodation is the way to go. Sites like AirBnB are popular for finding rental accommodation.
Hostels: Hostels are a cheap alternative to hotels. You don’t get any hotel room luxuries and may have to share a room with strangers. If you’re visiting a city and just looking for somewhere to rest your head at night, it’s a good option.
Camping: Camping is a cheap option when exploring more rural areas. Campsite fees are minimal (for those that don’t like tents, there are still cheap options in campsites such as fixed caravans and yurts). Those daring enough can even ditch campsites and try wild camping.
B&bs: B&bs (bed and breakfasts) can be cheaper than regular hotels. The only meal they serve is breakfast, which may or may not be included in the price.· Homestay accommodation: Homestay accommodation involves staying with a local family in their home. You get a room and sometimes cooked meals included. It can be much cheaper than a hotel and a great way of truly experiencing another culture.