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How to get a bargain hotel room

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Last updated on

07 January 2013

From budget to luxury, here are our top tips for paying less for a hotel room.

Tip #1 – Travel off-season

It stands to reason that hotel rooms will cost more when everyone is on holiday. After all, there's more demand, and hotels know they can charge more. So why not go a little earlier, or later, than everyone else?

A good way to judge this is to go on holiday once the kids have gone back to school! Providing you're not a school teacher, and you don't have kids, this is a far better way to get a cheaper deal on your hotel room.

Check out the general school half term dates for 2013 in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland to give you a guide if you’re not in the know.

Apart from steering clear of the school holidays it also pays to consider the days you plan to stay. Sunday nights are generally the cheapest to book for a hotel room.

Tip #2 – Book early... or last minute!

If you can book up a holiday well in advance – we're talking more than a year here – then you tend to get a much better deal.

The UK's big budget hotel chains Premier Inn and Travelodge also offer big discounts if you book in advance, particularly during the quieter months of the year.

Equally, if you book very late in the day, perhaps with a day or two to spare, then you can also get your hands on a great priced room in some places.

However, the latter option is very much fraught with danger. While on occasion you will get a great price, it's at least equally likely that most hotels in the area will be fully booked, so you may end up paying way over the odds just to secure a roof over your heads.

Tip #3 – Get discounts

First of all, you should have a look at sites like lastminute.com and Expedia, which tend to get absolutely amazing deals on hotel prices (in fact Expedia even offers a guarantee that if you find the same hotel room cheaper anywhere else, it will refund the difference).

But there are loads of other sites to check out, like Discounthotels.co.uk, hotelclub.net, otel.com and (particularly if you are off to the States) hoteldiscount.com

If you just want a cheap break somewhere, sign up for daily deals sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial, Groupola and KGBDeals, which regularly have hotel deals. Just make sure you check that the bargain they're presenting really is a good deal by looking at the hotel's own website.

It's also well worth reading the travel sections of national newspapers both during the week and at weekends, as they often have a selection of cracking looking deals. However, be sure to act quickly as they will disappear pretty sharpish!

Tip #4 – Book a 'secret' hotel

This is our favourite tip, and if you like taking a bit of a step into the unknown, it's definitely for you!

lastminute.com isn't just great for arranging a trip at short notice – it's also an awesome place to get a hotel room at a shockingly low rate. The catch though is that you don't know which hotel it is.

An absolute shedload of brilliant hotels – we are talking top of the range here – have signed up to the Top Secret Hotel scheme, offering up to 45% off their nightly rates. You go on, pick which date you want to go, and you'll be given a description of the hotel, as well as its location and rating. But not its name.

lastminute.com's sister company Travelocity has a similar service and you'll see some Top Secret rooms listed in your results.

There's also Hotwire, which does exactly the same thing as lastminute.com and promises "four-star hotels at two-star prices". One Lovemoney writer has saved over £100 a time via this site.

And if you are just looking for somewhere to stay in London, you might also want to check out Discounted Hotels London, which offers its own secret hotel service.

Only after completing the booking do you get sent the name of the hotel, though in all honesty, once you have the location and description, most of the time it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out just which hotel they are referring to.

If you have figured out which hotel you're booking, you could then try your luck at phoning up, quoting the price you've been offered and seeing if the hotel will beat it. You might get lucky, as booking with them direct means they don't have to pay the referring website commission.

Tip #5 – Use your loyalty points

Various hotel chains have their own reward schemes, including Hilton HHonors, the Intercontinental Group's Priority Club Rewards and Marriott Rewards.

If you shop at Tesco, or have a Nectar card, then you can trade in your points for some brilliant hotel deals. Build up points on a Tesco Clubcard and you can get money off all sorts of hotel chains, including Hiltons and Marriots, while you can use Nectar points to get money off deals at Expedia.

If you shop at Tesco or Sainsbury's, but don't have a loyalty card, you could be missing out on some bargain hotel deals!

So there you have it, our top five ways to cut the price of your hotel. Be sure to share yours via the Comments box below.

This is a classic Lovemoney article that has been updated

More on travelling for less:

The best debit cards to use abroad

The best credit cards to use abroad

How to beat sneaky budget airline charges

The best prepaid cards for spending abroad

What does an EHIC really cover?

Ways to get a free flight upgrade

The best value long-haul holiday destinations

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