Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t live well.
When travelling on a budget, accommodation is often one of the first things that we look to save money on. Even if it means sacrificing on the quality of accommodations, we all love to travel as cheaply as possible so that we can have extra spending money or be able to visit those once-in-a-lifetime destinations. After all, what’s a few nights in low-end accommodations compared to being able to hike in the Andes or discovering the medieval fairy-tale villages of Central Europe?
However, depending on where you travel to and the time of year you go, it is possible to snag luxury accommodations on a budget. Just follow our top suggestions below!
New year, new holiday
January is traditionally the time when our bank balances recover from the overindulgence of December’s festivities, but if you’re able to book your holiday accommodations, then it’s often the best time to do so. January is typically a much quieter month for hotels, and fewer bookings taking place means that they will slash prices in order to fill up rooms for the coming months.
And if you can start your vacation on a Sunday instead of ending on that day, you may be able to save even more money. This tip can, of course, be applied all year round; just keep an eye out for those hotels that are offering deals for Sunday nights.
Location, location, location
If you’re planning to visit a popular travel destination, booking your stay at a hotel a town or two outside of the city is another way to spend less on a luxury room. Similarly, staying in the financial district of major cities like London, Tokyo, Shanghai and Brussels could save you quite a bit of money. The 4 and 5-star hotels that are popular with business travellers are often left empty over the weekend when the “suits” have checked out, and, in many cases, they’ll offer out rooms and suites for as much as 70% off the regular rate.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that for most travel destinations, the closer a hotel is located to the airport, the more expensive it will be. So, if you don’t mind traveling a little longer before you can hit the pillow, you could save hundreds of dollars on top rooms.
Call your dream hotels and ask direct
Discount websites, which undercut a hotel’s “rack rate” by buying rooms in bulk and selling them on for a slightly higher price, are all well and good if you are in a pinch; however, it’s possible to get a luxury room even cheaper if you call your dream hotels directly. Check out the rates offered on discount sites to get a ballpark idea first, then call up your chosen hotel and ask them if they can give you a better deal. During the evening is usually the best time to call, as that’s typically when the duty manager will be at the front desk; just make sure you avoid calling during peak checkout and check-in times.
Launch a charm offensive at the front desk
If you’re looking for a way to upgrade your existing accommodation into a luxury room or suite, it’s always worth trying the $20 front desk tip (which is a favourite with travellers to Las Vegas, but is applicable to any destination). During check-in, politely ask about room rates and slip a small gratuity along with your credit card. Even if the hotel staff can’t offer you a room upgrade, this can motivate them to save you money by providing a last-minute deal or throwing in some nice extras.
Show your loyalty
Finally, don’t forget about the loyalty programmes that most luxury hotel groups and booking websites offer. Okay, this may not get you a room upgrade or free night’s stay instantly, but, in the long run, you could make some great savings and enjoy some nice perks, too. The Rewards Club offered by IHG, for example, is completely free to join, and once you’re a member, you’ll be able to earn points to use for stays at hotel chains like Kimpton, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites, InterContinental, etc. Marriott Bonvoy also has an international footprint with over 8,000 hotels so you may want to consider joining their free loyalty program as well.
On another note, if you automatically opt out of receiving communications from hotel groups and booking websites, you could be missing a trick. Admittedly, not everybody wants their inbox to fill up with promotional emails, but more often than not hotels will regularly offer booking discounts and special deals via email alerts.