Staying at a hotel can be a real treat. You get to sleep in a big, comfortable bed with luxurious linens, you can have food delivered right to your door, and when you leave for a few hours, someone will clean up, make your bed, and stock your bathroom with fresh towels before you return.
There’s nothing quite like staying at a hotel and being tended to. Sure, you can stay at an Airbnb or other short-term rental property, where you’ll have to fend for yourself, for a lower rate - but what if you could enjoy all the luxuries at a stunning hotel for even less than a private rental? Here are a few of of our best hotel tips to help you get the best deal on your room and make the most of your stay:
Tips for Scoring the Best Deal on Your Hotel
1. Use Specialized Booking Sites
Specialized sites like Expedia, Kayak, and Hotels.com make money a couple of ways. Sometimes, they book tons of rooms at a special bulk price and resell them for more than they paid. In other cases, they get a referral bonus or commission when you book a room through them. Regardless of how a specific travel site makes money, one thing’s for sure - they’re motivated to make the sale and offer some out-of-this-world deals.
Make sure you sign up and log in to your travel site of choice before you start searching. Prices are better for members.
2. Use a Rebate App
Boost your savings even more by using a rebate app, like Rakuten, to get up to 9% cashback on some travel and hotel booking sites. Even at 1-2%, rebates on big purchases like vacations are impressive.
3. Call for Special Rates
Some hotels have special rates for specific customers. If you travel a lot, consider becoming an AAA member. Members get great deals on some hotels and are entitled to some bonuses, like flexible cancelation, free breakfast, and free Wi-Fi. Traveling for work? Ask about corporate rates!
If you book under a corporate or membership rate, remember to bring your proof of membership when you check in.
4. Apply for a Travel Credit Card
Travel card owners gain access to exclusive deals on flights and hotels. If you’ve been racking up rewards points you’ll never use, or worse, if your credit card doesn’t reward you at all, find a travel reward card that meets your needs.
5. Sign Up for the Loyalty Program
If you have a favorite hotel chain, sign up for their loyalty program. You’ll get a better rate, earn points toward a free stay, and receive the VIP treatment with extras like free parking and Wi-Fi. Your membership will include a subscription to the hotel’s newsletter, where you’ll find some of the best hotel tips that are specific to the chain.
Best Tips for Making the Most of Your (Discounted) Hotel Stay
6. Check In Early and Check Out Late
Call ahead on arrival day to ask if you can check in early, and call on departure day to ask if you can stay late. Most of the time, hotel staff will be more than happy to accommodate you. It’s not an unusual request, so don’t feel awkward about asking. Use the extra time to freshen up before you head out to explore or rest up a little longer before catching your flight.
7. Keep Travel Necessities in Your Suitcase
It’s easy to forget your toothbrush, phone charger, or deodorant when you’re packing your bags. Buy a few spares of all the essentials and keep them packed in the zipped part of your suitcase. Then remind yourself not to remove them when you’re struggling to get that bag under 23 kilos.
8. Repurpose an Empty Cup or Toilet Paper Roll
One of the best hotel tips won’t cost you a dime! If you want to listen to music and your phone’s speaker isn’t cutting it, slide your phone into an empty cup (speaker in) to amplify the sound. If there’s no cup available, make a slit in a toilet paper roll and use it the same way.
9. Bring Your Own Wi-Fi
If you travel often and you’re paying a lot of extra money for Wi-Fi during your hotel stays, invest in a mobile hotspot. Devices like the Skyroam Solis let you bring your own Wi-Fi. You can even rent a product from Skyroam if you’re not ready to buy. Bringing your own hotspot is a smart idea if you’ll be working from the hotel and can’t risk dealing with the erratic hotel Wi-Fi.
10. Forgot Something? Don’t Run Out and Buy It Right Away
If you arrive at the hotel and realize you’ve forgotten something, like toothpaste, a comb, or makeup remover, call down to the front desk before you head out to buy it. Hotels usually have a collection of essentials for forgetful travelers.
11. Keep the Light Out and Sleep In
Those pesky hotel curtains simply don’t fit together properly. If you’re bothered by the light that glares in through the space between the curtains, use a pant hanger to clip the curtains together. You’ll usually find a few hangers in the closet.
12. Bring a Night Light
Waking up in a strange environment can be alarming - and hazardous. Bring a night light to place in or near the bathroom in case you need to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night and don’t want to wake your companion by turning on the lights.
12. Invest in a Streaming Device
Many hotels don’t have smart TVs, and they usually only offer basic cable. Invest in a streaming device, like Roku’s Streaming Stick+, and keep up-to-date on your favorite Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ shows while you’re away from home.