Accommodation is one of the biggest travel expenses for budget travelers. The cost inflates if you bring the hotel into the picture, so budget-conscious travelers opt for cheaper alternatives like hosteling, Couchsurfing, or Airbnb. However, there are situations when you want the privacy, comfort, and services available only in a hotel environment and don’t care much about socializing with other people or living with the local people, staying in a hotel is the way to go.
Hotels can be very affordable when you find good online deals. Rates are not the only factors. You want to also consider other factors like the hotel location, neighborhood, transportation, available amenities, and extra services available at the hotel, etc. Here are some tips to help you save on hotel for your trip.
The city center is always alluring to first-time travelers. Travelers want to stay in the city center or in central locations in nearby neighborhoods to be near to touristic attractions and save the time traveling. However, hotels in the city center can blow up your travel expenses. You might want to find hotels outside the city center which likely costs much less. If you plan on spending most of your time outside and exploring the city or doing business, then it doesn’t make much sense to pay a lot for a hotel room where you will only sleep. Make sure that you choose hotels that are served by public transit to the city center. Not only you save on the hotel’s daily rate, but you also save on food since restaurants outside the city center likely have cheaper restaurants.
Hotels are not usually known for good food. You don’t find hotel restaurants listed in top places to eat the best meals in most travel destinations. You often pay more to eat the same food you can find elsewhere. Unless you have no other eating option or you’re happy with the menu, the dining atmosphere, and the prices offered at your hotel, explore the surrounding neighborhood and prepare to be surprised by what you can find there.
Anything you see in the fridge is not free. Eat them and watch your travel budget blows up unnecessarily. Anything free items that your hotel might offer are mostly laid out on the table with a tag. Stock up snacks, beverage, and water on the way before getting to your hotel room instead of cleaning out the minibar. It’s different to pay extra money for a prepared meal than paying double, triple or more for water, chips, or a candy bar you can easily get a supermarket or a convenient store.
Most hotels provide basic services that included in the prices, but don’t assume all will offer the same services that you expect such as free WiFi, breakfast, etc. When you can get free WiFi almost everywhere nowadays in public places, cafés, and restaurants, you expect the same at your hotel. Read the terms and make sure the hotels offer free WiFi to guests. You don’t want to pay just to get on the Internet especially if you plan to do work there a lot. The hourly rate is pricey because they want to encourage you to choose a one-day, multiple-day or one-week package instead. I stayed in two hotels (good ones) where I had to fork extra money to get connected.
While a few hotels offer free breakfast, most charge extra or have different daily rates and make breakfast part of the higher rate. If you do not want breakfast, pick the basic rate. If free breakfast is provided in your hotel package, take advantage of it. Unlike hotel restaurants, hotel breakfast is usually the best. No other restaurant can beat hotel in term of breakfast. There is always a variety of food that caters to different tastes (bread, cereal, eggs, ham sausages, fruit, vegetable, yogurt, juice, coffee, tea, sweet). Sometimes it is worth the extra money to have a full breakfast at your hotel to boost your physical and mental if you have an active day ahead of you.
Some hotels even have a swimming pool, sauna, or gym. Choose these hotels and use these services to make the best of your stay.
Face with steep competition in the accommodation industry; many hotels also function as hostels to compete on prices. They give you the cheapest rate which covers only the room and the linen, and you end up paying extra for additional services. Some hotels might charge for towels.
Sign up for a membership program that lets you collect points for each of your stays. When you have enough points, you can you redeem them to get better hotel rooms or even free rooms.
Most often you find much better hotels from hotel booking websites. Some websites boast post discount rates as low as 20% to 50% to even up to 80%. While the rates are available to everyone, some booking websites like hotels.com give additional discounts to registered members. To be a member, you register for an online account, log in, and search for hotels. Currently, I use hotels.com to book all my hotels. So far they have been reliable. They even offer a free stay after you book at an X number of nights via hotels.com. I did a price check on the site searching for hotels in the same city while logged in and not logged in. Indeed, the discount prices for many hotels were visible only when I was logged in.
Hotel receptionists or managers have more power than you think. If the hotel is not fully occupied, they might let you move to a different room with a better view or more space. This won’t save you money, but at least it gives you more comfortable stay.
If you travel in a group of three or more and don’t mind privacy, you can save significantly staying in the same room. Many hotels do not have a single room that just has a single bed because this is not optimal. They usually put twin beds in a room so they can rent out to one or two people. Hotels usually charge per room not per person, so a room for two costs the same as for one or doesn’t cost more than twice a single room. Sometimes a room that can accommodate three people cost the same as the one for double or even single. The price is fixed regardless of how many people stay in the room.
If you already know your travel plan and the location in advance, consider booking your hotel way ahead of time. Many hotels offer a steep discount if you book their rooms weeks or months in advance. A few years ago, I did training in Dublin, Ireland that required me to be in the city twice a few months apart. The hotel where we had our training had two very different pricing for the two different time I looked at their hotel offers (after the first training and right before the second training.) Some people who attended the training book the hotel immediately after the first training for the next session and got almost half the price.
I’m not suggesting you become critical and demand a free night or money back when you’re not completely satisfied with your stay at the hotel. However, if you experience major nuisance, don’t hesitate to complain and ask for compensation. A friend of mine got evicted out of his room because the hotel receptionist thought he didn’t pay.The hotel booking system had an issue so his payment wasn’t entered or shown up in the system, and he forgot to take a receipt. The hotel people dumped all his food in the fridge and took all his stuff out of the room. Once the hotel realized the mistake, they offered a free night and then the entire stay for free because my friend didn’t want to accept just an apology.
Planning your next travel trips? Search for cheap hotels with Hotels.com.