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Money-saving tips for hotel booking

Learn when and how to book a hotel room at the right price, plus much more with our top tips for securing great deals.How to cut the cost of hotels

It wasn't that long ago that hotels offered their rooms at one price and one price only, so it was tough luck if it was out of your budget.

In many ways this made the business of whittling down hotel shortlists quite a bit quicker, but it did restrict your choice.

Now it's all about shopping around to find a great deal - and here's how!

Book hotels at the right time

As is the case for most travel bookings, when you book your hotel and the period you book it for will have a large bearing on cost.

For popular hotels and resorts, book as far in advance as possible for stays during peak periods.

In off-peak times and 'shoulder-seasons', however, waiting until the last minute could prove fruitful as most hotels would rather rooms sell for a reduced price than not at all.

Did you know...?

  • Many hotels - especially in European cities - charge a daily room tax, which isn't typically factored into advertised rates

Expand your hotel search parameters

Hotels charge the rates they do based on a number of factors, such as their facilities or location, so making a few tweaks to your search criteria can yield big savings.

For example, you may want to check out transport links and choose a hotel that's slightly further from town rather than in the centre.

It might offer free shuttle services or parking on top of great savings.

Compare your booking options

Gocompare.com's hotel finder helps you look at thousands of venues in worldwide destinations, allowing you to choose the right location, date, type of accommodation and room.Hotel reception bell

We're confident we can find you a great deal, but if you have time you could also try contacting the hotel directly - it's possible you could benefit from something like an early booking offer, breakfast deal or free night scheme.

Do you really need breakfast?

Many say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It can be the most expensive, too, where hotels are concerned.

Unless you absolutely need the luxury or convenience of an on-site brekkie (as opposed to a cafe around the corner), you may find that a 'room-only' rate is considerably cheaper.

That said, keep an eye out for hotels offering 'breakfast included' deals, which may work out cheaper than room only plus breakfast elsewhere.

Check for charges

Many hotels - especially in European cities - charge a daily room tax, which isn't typically factored into advertised rates.

Remember, in the age of review sites and feedback scores, decent establishments will want to make sure their customers are as happy as possible

Take this into account when you're searching online, as the fee alone can turn a great deal into a budget blower.

Consider the currency you book in

Foreign exchange rates are subject to constant fluctuation, so check the latest exchange rate on a site such as XE.com.

You may find it's better to book in pound sterling, or it may be better to book in the local currency - do your maths!

Use generous cancellation policies to your advantage

Some hotels and booking sites offer fairly flexible cancellation policies. While you don't really want to continue the hotel search after you've booked, you can use these policies as a safety net for securing an even better deal elsewhere.Holiday gear

For example, book into Hotel A, then call Hotel B and say: "I'm already booked in at [competitor] but I'm really interested in your hotel because [reason] and wondered if you were able to match my budget?"

You've nothing to lose by trying.

Ask for extras

Most hotel sites include an 'additional comments' section on their booking forms. Use this to ask for extras, or to make staff aware of birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions.

A bottle of wine or complimentary chocolates won't line your pocket but everyone likes getting something for nothing!

If you're vying for a free room upgrade, it may help if you arrive later in the day when the staff have a good idea of which rooms are available.

Remember, in the age of review sites and feedback scores, decent establishments will want to make sure their customers are as happy as possible.

Take a gamble on luxury

So-called 'secret hotels' are a great way to get more bang for your buck.

Certain sites allow you to input your basic criteria (star rating, location, etc) before offering you corresponding rooms at top, unnamed hotels which want to flog unused accommodation without upsetting their usual customer base.

You won't know for sure which hotel you're getting until you've booked, but a bit of internet sleuthing - pasting the hotel description into a search engine, for example - will yield a few clues.

Join a loyalty scheme

If you travel a lot, hotel loyalty schemes are a good way to bag free nights or room upgrades in the long term.Suitcases

Also be sure to sign up to newsletters from hotels (especially hotel chains) so you're amongst the first to hear about upcoming sales or special offers.

Following hotels on social media is also a great way to hear about flash sales or limited-time deals you wouldn't hear of elsewhere.

Don't book on price alone

Tempting as it is to simply go for the cheapest deal - particularly if you're not fussed about the bells and whistles of staying in a hotel - sometimes prices are low for reasons more sinister than value alone.

Check out review sites such as Tripadvisor to see what others have to say, before you pay.

By Rachel England