3 Tips for booking cheap hotel rooms

Do you want cheap hotel rooms?

For cases when alternatives like airbnb or couchsurfing don’t suit your needs).

Tip 1 – Use EITHER hotels.com or agoda.com to look for a hotel.

Hotels.com has listings available worldwide for cheap hotel rooms, and has a good map interface for searching hotels in a specific region with the amenities you’re looking for.  It offers a “Buy 10 get 1 free” promotion where after 10 nights, a “free” night is available to apply on a future booking.  However, the “free” night has a maximum value that seems to vary depending on the prices of the hotels you’ve booked previously to get that free night.

Can't beat a better price than FREE for cheap hotel rooms! ;)

Progress showing towards free nights on hotels.com

(Sorry, you can’t book 10 days in the Best Western and then stay 1 night at the Shangri-La…)

Agoda has a slightly less friendly interface, but seems to have more listings in Asia.  Rewards points also accrue immediately, instead of batching together like hotels.com.

I haven’t seen difference in price of one or two dollars per night between the two sites for cheap hotel rooms.

Tip 2 – Don’t use the hotel’s own website.

In general, hotels will have their “walk-in” rate posted on their websites, which is nearly almost ALWAYS higher than the price on a hotel aggregator website.

In only one case that I’ve checked has a hotel matched the price for what I’ve seen on hotels.com – but if you did book directly, you aren’t going to be claiming rewards points/days for whatever budget travel site you normally use (agoda and hotels.com bonuses seem to work out to about 3-5% off over time over what normal discounts are already applied).

Tip 3 – Searching every single booking website repeatedly to get the lowest price may actually INCREASE your prices.

I’ve seen some incredible deals in Bangkok, Thailand while searching for places to stay ($36/night places discounted from over $100).  Some search engines (like hotelaggregator.com) that lookup bookings from multiple sites seem to trigger an increase in price.

I’m not sure if this is the hotel returning higher prices because it sees it’s becoming popular, or if some search sites actually place a hold on the room when you select a room type (i.e. “Book now – x rooms left”), thus driving the prices of other rooms up.

If you have other lesser known tips for getting cheaper hotel rooms when travelling, please leave a comment below!