You have a big trip coming up. You’ve discovered the cheap flights you need and now it’s time to find a hotel deal. We can help. Keep these seven tips in mind every time you search for the perfect place to stay.
How to find a cheap flight
1. When to book
Unlike airline tickets, which typically get more expensive as the departure date nears, hotels sometimes offer last-minute deals. According to a recent Kayak study,
“We found that booking your hotel 1-3 days in advance of your stay can save you between $15-20 per night when you’re staying somewhere in the US. For international trips, booking as little as 6 days ahead for a shorter stay can help you save around $6/night.”
However – and this is very important – the study also points out that last-minute deals are never guaranteed. For example, if you’re going to a popular destination during peak season, or to a notable event (such as Munich’s Oktoberfest or maybe a hot-ticket music festival like Coachella), book your hotel weeks or even months in advance. If you don’t, forget losing out on a deal, you might not get a room at all.
2. Weekends vs weekdays
Some cities that cater to business travelers have cheaper rates on weekends, while cities that cater to tourists often have better deals on weekdays. When in doubt, check prices for different itineraries. Tip: Fridays can be especially pricey days for hotel stays (but not always).
3. Find a hotel deal
Always compare hotel prices. Look for a site like FareCompare that allows you to compare room prices for multiple hotels at and near your destination. It’s the only way to tell what’s a deal and what isn’t. And even though you may see prices from, say, $50 to hundreds of dollars per night, you’ll know what is the deal for you with careful filtering. Maybe you don’t need spa services, but do need an in-room coffee maker. Maybe you like being out in the suburbs or must be in the heart of the city. Keep reading.
4. Hotel location
Proximity to your destination’s top attractions is important. Start your search by figuring out which attractions you most want to see and where they are located, then search nearby hotels. You may find the lodgings closest to popular tourist attractions are more expensive but that deals are available at hotels out in the suburbs. Tip: Look carefully; you may find smaller hotels with good deals near an attraction like the Eiffel Tower, for example, but it may lack a few amenities.
5. Hotel amenities
Ask yourself, which amenities do I truly want and which can I live without? If you must have a daily swim, be sure to include a pool in all hotel searches. If you plan to eat out most of the time, you probably won’t need a place with a kitchenette or restaurant. Have a list of must-have amenities at your side as you search for hotels but you might want to be flexible enough to give something up if it’s a matter of a high-priced room vs. a genuine deal.
If you’ll have a car with you, be sure to check if parking is free; if not, ask for prices. Some hotels charge a lot for visitor vehicles. If you won’t be driving, see if there is a subway or metro or bus line nearby and if the hotel offers airport shuttles. When all else fails, ask about taxi service or Lyft and Uber. Even if most attractions are within walking distance, others may not be.
7. Credit cards
One last thing; before you book, check to see what points or rewards you may have amassed through your credit cards. We know folks who checked at the last minute only to discover they could get a couple of nights for free. However, a free night in a hotel that is otherwise very expensive or in a not-great location or lacks amenities you want isn’t much of a bargain. Check out any bargain carefully to be sure it’s a bargain for you.