Booking a hotel room is easy but how do you know that you have had a good deal? We have put together some of the money saving tips and tricks that we use when booking a hotel room to ensure that we get the best rooms at the best prices.
We have also shared some advice when you get to your hotel to ensure that your stay is as comfortable as possible.
Here are 10 of our best hotel booking tips and tricks that we have learned and used over the years.
1. Start with the hotel comparison sites
These comparison sites lists hundreds of hotels in your chosen location and offer a great way to see the cheapest hotel deals at a glance from the majority of the major providers including Hotels.com, Expedia, Booking.com and often the official hotel website.
As well as showing the cheapest prices they also contain all that you need to know in one place from guest reviews, photos, amenities and location. These comparison sites also offer powerful search filters to narrow down the results, so for example, if you are looking for a 4-5* hotel with a swimming pool then using these websites will save you hours searching multiple websites.
2. Book direct with the hotel
Once you have found the best price and if it’s not direct with the hotel, many hotel chains such as Hilton, Marriott, IHG etc offer a best price guarantee.
Contact the hotel directly and ask if they can beat the price that you have found online, as hotels pay a commission to the likes of Expedia, Hotels.com etc and in our experience they will always offer a better rate.
If they can’t beat the price ask if they can add any extras to secure your booking such as free breakfast or an upgrade on arrival.
3. Look to stay at new hotels
Check websites such as Google News and search for phrases such as ‘hotel openings London’ or ‘new hotels in London’ to look for hotels that have recently opened or just undergone major refurbishment. Not only will they be in great condition because they are brand new but will typically offer lower rates than usual to get customers in through the door.
4. Join free loyalty programmes
If you are staying with a hotel chain, then it’s always worth signing up for their free membership schemes. Not only do they offer exclusive cheaper rates for members you will also get perks such as free wifi (Marriott for example still charge) and the ability to choose your room before you arrive at the hotel (Hilton).
You also can earn points and status from your stay that you can build up to use to redeem against a future stay – using hotel loyalty points is one of our favourite ways of staying at hotels for free.
Away from the hotel chains, many of the online booking sites such as Expedia and Hotels.com offer cheaper rates to customers who have joined their free loyalty program and allow you to earn points or free nights to redeem against future stays.
5. Check out the member-only sale sites
It’s free to sign up to see the deals and once you find one, use booking tip number 2 to contact the hotel to book direct and see if they can beat this rate.
6. Save with Tesco Clubcard
If you collect Tesco Clubcard points then you can get 3x boost the value of your Clubcard points to redeem against a hotel stay at hotels.com – so for every £5 you convert you get £15 in hotels.com vouchers.
Apart from converting our Clubcard points for attraction tickets or Avios points we find that the hotels.com partnership one of the best uses of Tesco points.
Before you convert your vouchers however, its worth checking out which hotels are available and their prices via the dedicated Hotels.com Tesco link
The only issue with this deal is that you cannot use the vouchers to pay for the ‘taxes and fees’ of the booking – this must be paid using your debit or credit card and any unused Tesco Voucher value that does not go towards the room cost will not be refunded
7. Use a discount code on your hotel stay
If you are a member of the AA then select the AAA discount on hotel sites such as Hilton and Marriott you can access special rates.
8. Discounts if you work in the Public Sector
If you work in the Public Sector in the UK then Hilton also have a dedicated website offering savings of up to 30% off their best available bed and breakfast rate for public sector employees.
9. Stay in the business district
If you are visiting a city over the weekend, it’s well worth checking out hotels in the business district of the city.
Hotels in these areas typically attract corporate travellers and are much quieter over weekends and many hotels drop their rates from Friday – Sunday.
For example we have picked up top 5* hotel stays in London for less than a 3* hotel in a more tourist area. On the flip side you’ll find the best deals in the more tourist areas from Sundays to Thursdays.
10. Look for free cancellations
If you can make a booking that has free cancellation (typically 24-48 hours before your stay starts. )it can help you book in some great deals in advance, and if you see a cheaper deal then you can cancel and rebook it at the lower rate.
Alternatively check out websites such as hoteltonight.com for last minute hotel rooms that a hotel has to sell, sometimes caused by last minute cancellations.
Bonus Tip 1 – We book our hotel stays on plastic
We always use a credit card to pay for our hotel for two main reasons. When our stay is over £100 and we pay by credit card, because of section 75 of the consumer credit act you get extra protection.
We also find that hotels run regular discounts as AMEX offers that get loaded onto the card. Current examples include get £50 back when you spend £200 at Marriott and get £75 back on a spend of £350 or more at Red Carnation Hotels.
Bonus Tip 2 – Compare hotel prices on your laptop, tablet and mobile.
Yes, the prices can fluctuate depending on the device you are booking on. We have often had cheaper deals booking through the mobile app, especially with Expedia and Hotels.com compared to booking it through a web browser.
Bonus Tip 3 – Join their email lists
Sign up for the hotels and the online travel agents (hotels.com, expedia etc) email list to ensure you get early notification of sales to ensure you get the best deals or early bird discounts.
Once at the hotel
1. Tell the hotel if it’s a special occasion
If you are celebrating an anniversary, birthday or honeymoon then let the hotel know in advance. When we have done this in the past, many hotels have surprised us with a room upgrade or a welcome surprise left in our room such as drinks and balloons.
2. Look at the Executive Level or Club Rooms
This will depend on the hotel you have chosen but if your hotel has an executive floor then in our experience its well worth paying the extra.
Not only do you get the best rooms, services and amenities you also have access to the dedicated lounge with typically complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea, evening canapes and drinks along with non-alcoholic drinks and snacks throughout the day.
We often find that the savings we make outweigh the cost of the upgrade to the executive floor.
3. Request a corner room
When making your booking or at check-in ask for a corner room as these often are the largest standard rooms in the hotel.
Also, it’s worth finding out if the hotel has had any recent renovations and if so ask for one of the newly refurbished rooms.
4. Ask for the Pillow Menu
To ensure you have the best nights sleep ask the hotel if they have a ‘Pillow Menu’. Many hotels want a ‘home from home’ experience for their guests and have a wide selection of pillows to choose from.
NB: This post contains affiliate links.
*However one important editorial note: Credit cards can get people into financial trouble. The benefits of using these cards are if you are the type of consumer who pay off the balances in full each month, otherwise the interest and charges will far exceed any benefits offered from using these cards. But if you are a responsible user of credit cards and want to get rewarded for everyday spending then these cards are what we would look into.