Finding the perfect hotel at a decent price can feel like doing a complicated jigsaw puzzle: piecing together different websites, memberships, and tips to get the most from your holiday. It’s easy to get exhausted and wind up paying far more than you ever wanted. Relax – just like our easy guide for how to book a cheap flight, we’ve got all the top tips and sites compiled right here. Pour yourself a pina colada and read on for all you need to know about how to find a cheap hotel.
Make the most of comparison sites
Comparison sites can check hundreds of hotel sites quickly and return the best deals. Make sure to check several different comparison sites to end up with the best price.
- Trivago is good for covering a wide variety of hotels and the website has a variety of filters including for hotels with a spa (and even particular spa treatments!), dietary accommodations, and room amenities.
- Kayak (part of Booking.com) lets you filter by freebies such as breakfast and internet, cancellation policy, and style such as trendy or romantic.
- Skyscanner is great for both hotel and flight comparisons, where you can filter by price, star rating, cancellation policy, and meal plans.
Top tip: After locking down some hotel options, call the hotels directly and ask if they can beat the price on the comparison site. There are sometimes bonus deals for direct bookers to the hotel, including loyalty points or freebies.
Uncover the secret to saving with mystery deals
Mystery hotel rooms can snag you huge savings through sites like Hotwire and Lastminute.com. These sites give you the approximate location and the star rating of your hotel but it’s only after paying that you uncover the hotel’s name. This method is ideal if you don’t have a preference for a particular hotel. A similar way to save is through price bidding through sites like Priceline. This is a virtual auction where you can bid for a room at a named hotel, often saving a huge amount of the original price.
Treat yourself thanks to rewards programs
Make the most of booking site loyalty programs, where you can collect points to exchange for upgrades and even free rooms! Rather than limiting yourself to one hotel, a booking site rewards program lets you rack up points with just about any stay, whether it’s Hilton, Hyatt, or Wyndham. Hotels.com, Expedia, and Orbitz are just a few booking sites with rewards programs. However, hotel rewards programs can still be worth it, with some like Marriott, Radisson, and Best Western offering exclusive members’ perks like free internet and late check-out.
Snip the price with coupon codes and group deals
Along the same line, searching for coupon codes and deals through sites like RetailMeNot and Groupon can knock a few extra dollars off even the best price. Search for coupon codes using the hotel name followed by the current month and year to find the most recent coupons. Use Groupon, Scoopon (in Australia), or Living Social to get great deals for group travel to some of the more upscale hotels.
Savings alert! Be the first to know with email notifications
Signing up for email alerts from price-matching websites can secure extra discounts, such as coupon codes and price drops.
Top tip: To keep your inbox from cluttering up with emails from subscription lists, create a dedicated email account for your trip and use it when you sign up for alerts.
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Think outside the (central) box
Stuck on the pricey hotels in the city center? Consider extending your search beyond the heart of the city to nearby neighborhoods, which are often far cheaper. Make sure to check for public transport links to major attractions and factor the cost of tickets into your budget. Google Maps’ public transport tool is ideal for ensuring that your hotel is within manageable distance from the must-see locations.
Stay a little longer for long-term discounts
Discounts for weekly and monthly extended stays can significantly reduce the nightly rate. Airbnb long-term discounts can be very competitive against both hotel rates (and even local rent prices) as fewer guest changes mean less costs for Airbnb owners. Consider extending your 6 night stay to 7 nights and see how much you can save!
Sharing is caring: rentals, couchsurfing, and house-swaps
Hotels aren’t the only option for cheap travel accommodation. Rent a room, a flat, or even a whole house through sites like HomeAway or Clickstay, stay in someone’s spare room via Wimdu or 9flats.com, or crash completely free on a sofa through Couchsurfing. Remember to always be careful when staying with strangers and read other visitors’ reviews. If you’re planning on a long-term stay, consider finding someone to swap houses with you. Sites like Homelink or Home Base Holidays require a one-time joining fee but charge nothing for the swap itself, and many house-swap buddies find themselves with life-long friends!
Work it out with volunteering and working holidays
Many backpackers’ hostels will let you work a few shifts in exchange for a bed – it’s easy to send them a quick email before arriving, or just ask at the front desk. Working on farms is a common way to have both food and board provided for you. Websites like WWOOF and Workaway can connect travelers with employers, while Help Exchange lists tons of volunteer opportunities.