I have stayed in 4 star hotels for £9 a night. There are various techniques to get the best deals. Always book the flights first but it’s worth checking there will be accommodation. Sometimes there is a conference or festival on and hotel rooms can be in short supply.
- Use a hotel price comparison site like Trivago
I generally use the online comparison search guide trivago.co.uk which compares hotel prices on 266 booking sites at once. Tripadvisor is also competitive.
- Check the hotel site directly
They can offer deals better than price comparison sites.
I am in a 4-star hotel as I write this on half board at 10% less than any other site and with free restaurant nights. Booking direct means the hotel do not pay commission and this can sometimes be cheaper. However booking.com will bulk purchase and therefore can offer a cheaper price than the hotel.
- Go to booking.com and browse the hotels on a map
Booking.com is one of the better accommodation sites. Their reviews can be trusted as they are from confirmed purchasers. They allow you to download your booking onto your phone or work calendar
- Get a google, yahoo or Microsoft account in the country you are going to
Check local prices as if you are a local ( use google translate to read websites). For some eastern European destinations get someone from that country to book (In Poland I got 30% off tourist prices)
- Use a VPN to pretend you are browsing from another country as prices can be cheaper.
I use Hola for a PC and Tunnel Bear for an Android device. By pretending you are a local you get different cheaper prices. For some eastern European destinations get someone from that country to book (In Poland I got 30% off tourist prices)
- Avoid school holidays if possible
It’s an obvious one. But look out for differences in school holiday dates across the summer. Flights and accommodation packages from Scotland will be cheaper the last two weeks of the English school holidays. Similarly flights and accommodation from English airports will be cheaper the first two weeks in July. The best times to go are first week December and third week January for the cheapest deals. Rome is still Rome the third week in January.
- Go off season to hotels with indoor pools
Cheaper prices off season as weather can be changeable. Getting a hotel with an indoor pool allows you to swim even if it rains or is colder.
- Use budget hotel chains
IBIS budget hotels are great value for city centre accommodation at great prices and consistent quality. You know what you are getting. What amazes me is they offer wifi and have done for years when 4-star hotels charged a daily rate.
- Choose the location of your hotel
Decide whether location or comfort is most important. For short city breaks its location so 2 or 3 star is cheapest. For sun holidays hotels out of town can be significantly cheaper and you buy a cheap local bus ticket to get to bars.
- Paying in Euro’s can be cheaper if you have a good card like the Halifax Clarity
Booking direct with a hotel can undercut an online price but generally it’s cheapest booking online where companies have bought up blocks of rooms at a discounted rate. The hotel can say it’s full only for you to find rooms on the search sites. There is no one site that can definitively tell you a hotel is full – you need to look in three areas as to whether a hotel has a room – their own web site, a hotel comparison site and a tour operator site. Some countries have a price for tourists and a price for locals. I have accounts with Yahoo France, Yahoo Spain etc so I can search in the local language and get the local prices which can be cheaper. The best example of this was Poland where the rates given to a Polish speaking friend who phoned the 4-star hotel were far cheaper than anything advertised online.