You’ve picked your vacation destination and you’ve kept your eye on flight prices waiting for the perfect price range for your budget. Now you just have to finalize a hotel. Your budget tells you to find cheap, but you may wonder if you can really find good hotels that are also cheap hotels.
You can! Here’s how to get good hotels for cheap:
Start With Online Research
The varying quotes from Priceline, Expedia, TripAdvisor and the like may seem overwhelming. You don’t necessarily need to book with these sites — simply collect the various quotes as a starting point to see what’s available, when it’s available, how much it costs and what amenities the hotels provide.
An important thing to remember: Many online prices don’t include the taxes and fees added to your final bill. Look for the fine print, and where it isn’t included, factor in what you can dig up online or through a quick phone call to the hotel.
Once you have a list of options, then it’s time to start comparing prices and features.
As you compare prices, consider the days of your stay and see if any flexibility with your days may result in a cheaper stay. Sometimes booking for four or five days generates a better day-rate than two or even seven. This could save you anywhere from $50 to a couple hundred dollars depending on the location and days of your stay.
Also, don’t forget to look at the hotel’s own website when comparing prices. Sometimes you may find a better deal — or even a package deal — for your needs than what you find through multiple websites.
Pay Attention to the Perks
Pay attention to what the hotel offers for “free.”
It could be that free breakfast. It could be the “free” treats available in the lobby through the day or that “free” cup of coffee or “free” bottle of water. But all those “free” perks are usually hidden in the price somewhere.
Look through all those freebies and decide how many of them you really think you’re going to use — then compare the price of that hotel against cheaper options that don’t have all the extra perks. Are you really coming out ahead? Again you could save anywhere from a few dollars to more when you bypass the “free” for a cheaper hotel and provide your own items.
Are You a Member?
Don’t forget to consider any memberships with potential discounts on your room. It could be through AAA, AARP or even through professional groups to which you belong. You may be able to find specific discount codes through online searches or coupons in local magazines.
Also, hotel group rewards programs can sometimes help build up rewards such as free nights on the high end, but even at the low end, they may be good for a couple bottles of water and late checkout.
The Hotel Itself
If you are in doubt about a price, contact the hotel directly and simply ask. You can also call and ask for a discounted price or free perks, especially when it comes to potential additional fees inside your room or on the hotel property itself, such as internet access, parking, newspapers or activities. You’d be surprised what you can earn by haggling.
Finding a good hotel doesn’t stop when you book your stay. It also includes what you do when you walk through the hotel lobby doors. Consider asking for a free upgrade when you check in. Depending on availability, you might land a bigger room without any additional cost.
Also, sign up for email lists and keep in touch on social media. A simple “Like” or follow can result in special offers and other discounts.