Cheap Hotels


SF hotel roomUnless you are a business traveler, or planning a romantic getaway, you’d be crazy not to start your vacation planning by searching for cheap hotels. In many cases hotels work very much like seats on airplanes, in that someone right next to you might be paying much more or much less than you are for the exact same thing. This isn’t the case everywhere, but it’s true often enough that you’d be a fool not to look into the possibility before you book.

There are several ways to find cheap hotels that most people know about, and a few lesser-known ways of finding these elusive low-price rooms. This site is dedicated to helping travelers discover the secrets of finding the best deals on their own, and this section in particular will help you find cheap hotels in ways that might not have occurred to you yet.

Where to find cheap hotels

Of course the answer to this question involves searching on the Internet, but the sites you might be used to may not be the best ones for this particular pursuit. Finding cheap hotels is quite unlike finding cheap plane tickets because in many cases certain hotels or chains will arrange special deals with one travel site that aren’t available to other sites. With airline tickets there is a minimum price for a seat at a given time, which is usually available on the airlines’ own sites among other places, but for hotel rooms there can be special discounts that can be much cheaper than the prices the hotels “publish” on their own sites.

Which sites to use

Unfortunately, finding cheap hotels can be a bit time consuming, but once you get used to the process you’ll find that in just a few minutes you can search 2 or 3 sites so you’ll be able to confidently book a room knowing you found a good deal.

Best sites to scan for special deals

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These sites have their drawbacks for airfare searching, but for hotels they each have occasional specials so checking at least one or two of them is a great idea before you book.

Expedia
Travelocity
Orbitz

Best sites for everyday cheap prices

Priceline
Hotwire

Best sites to check dozens or hundreds of other sites all at once

These sites are excellent for airfare searches and they also do a great job finding cheap hotels. They literally check every other site they can find and put together their lowest prices into one results screen for you. After you see the full list you’ll know which other site offers the lowest price on that hotel room, and you’ll be directed to that other site for final booking.

Kayak
SideStep
(the above two sites are partners and basically identical, so there’s no need to check both)

Special deals worth considering

You may be aware of Priceline and its reverse auction scheme. This can be a headache for airfare searches, but it can work great for hotel searches if you are flexible with exactly which part of a city you are willing to stay in. They do limit most cities to various regions, so if you want to stay downtown you won’t accidentally be stuck out by the airport. But if you want to stay in a specific small neigbhorhood this might not be ideal.

Hotwire has a similar scheme that works great for hotels as well. They will also give you neighborhoods in a city from which to choose, and then they’ll give you nearly all the relevant details on a hotel they can offer at a cheap price, but they don’t tell you the name of the hotel until you’ve booked. These discounts can really be worthwhile, and generally people are quite happy with the hotel and neighborhood.