How can one save money when booking hotels? Booking online is one immediate answer and it is a good one, but the only sure-fire to be certain that you are getting the best price is to check prices via several booking channels.
[This is a real booking.com search box, not just an image]
It is often hard to find the hotel’s own home page on the web. Many sites include the names of hotels in their pages and this results in them being ranked higher in the search engine than the hotel’s actual site.
You may need to hunt through the search results a bit in order to get the direct link. Once you have the right page, check to see if they have the option to book online and check out the rates for the dates that you want. Be sure to read the terms and conditions of the rates you are looking at, as cheaper rates almost always mean additional restrictions.
It is important to look for any specials on the site and note what dates they can be booked on. Sometimes if you change your intended date by just a day you can save money.
Online hotel booking sites
Sites such as booking.com offer good rates and hotels give them better rates on occasion than you can get directly, due to their huge buying power.
Price comparison sites such as skyscanner will give you the best price from a wide range of hotel sites.
Sites like hotwire specialise in “last minute booking” specials. You can get up to 50% off the price of bookings made at the eleventh hour. The risk is that they may not have a room available at the specific hotel you prefer on the day/s that you require it. You may therefore need to be a bit flexible in your arrangements.
Phone the hotel directly and ask for reservations. Request “the best rate that they can offer”. While you may expect that they would give you the best rate automatically, that is not the case. They usually have various different rates on any given day and they may offer you the “rack rate” (the standard price to the public), but not mention any specials that they are running.
Senior citizen discounts
If you’re from about 55 or over, ask if they have a senior citizen rate. The age at which this discount is offered varies between hotels, and some do not offer a senior’s discount at all. But there is no harm at all in asking! Be aware that if a hotel is running a special, they won’t allow you to stack one discount on top of another, so select whichever is the cheapest.
Children under 12 stay free in the same room as their parents in many hotels around the world. In some places, this age is extended to 16 or even 18. If you don’t mind having your children on a sleeper couch in your room and are keen to save a buck, be sure to ask what their policy is for children.
While checking the different rates, be sure to make meal comparisons. It often works out cheaper to take a rate that includes breakfast than to take a lower rate that is room-only and then paying for breakfast, unless you are planning to have breakfast at a café down the road. From our experience, when travelling overseas, try to get meals included in the up-front price. It saves money for souvenirs and for fun activities that will make your journey memorable.
In some tourist destinations, for instance on the Indian Ocean island paradise of Mauritius, one can get half-board, which includes breakfast and dinner. Since the hotels are designed as full-service destinations that frequently include all the entertainments you may desire, this is often the cheapest option. If you intend seeing the sights during the day you may only need to find lunch on the road, or you can return to the hotel in the afternoon and have a drink and a Club Sandwich to tide you through to dinner.
Some resort destinations, where there is little other than the resort itself will offer full board (including lunch) but since this usually means they have an effective monopoly, they often just have a flat rate that includes all meals. Cruise ships use a similar principle.