The Best Hotels for the Lowest Rates
July 20, 2011
Summer is here, and you might be itching to get on the road — at least for a little while. If you are looking to take a road trip this summer, you will probably need some place to stay. Many people prefer hotels to camping out (although camping out can be a fun and low-cost option), so that means you are automatically going to be spending some money. You can save, though. Here are some ideas for saving money on hotels as you travel.
Look for Good Value
Sometimes good value doesn’t always mean the cheapest. Years ago, I stayed in a cheap hotel in St. George, Utah. It cost $30 a night — as opposed to the $45 another hotel was charging. After spending the night there, I wished I had spent the extra $15. The front desk was unavailable after 6 p.m., which happened to be just after we checked in. So there was no one to ask about the dirty sheets (my husband and I turned up the heat and slept on top of the blankets), container of curdling milk in the ice bucket, and the broken alarm clock. (This was before the widespread use of cell phones, and we had to buy a cheap alarm clock at the store.) A very harsh lesson in true value vs. cheapness.
If you want good value, Consumer Reports recommends trying Microtel Inn & Suites. It’s a budget hotel chain that feature usually clean rooms, and a continental breakfast. All of the Microtel hotels I have stayed in have had indoor pools, as well. If you just want a basic place to sleep, you can get good value at this chain. Consumer Reports lists Drury Inn & Suites as a good value in the moderately priced category.
Consider Rewards Programs
My parents are involved in Marriott’s rewards program. It includes Marriott brands like Fairfield and Courtyard, in addition to the more upscale Renaissance and other brands. My parents use a Marriott Rewards card, and every year they end up with multiple nights free. You can consider programs offered by different hotels, including Choice Hotels, which includes a number of brands. However, you need to be careful, and understand what you want in a hotel, or a rewards program may not be worth the trouble.
Tips for Saving Money on Hotels
Of course, there are other ways to save money when staying in hotels. The biggest tip is to look online. Check with travel web sites like Hotwire.com, Priceline.com, Orbitz.com and Travelocity.com. Sites like Kayak.com can help you look through a number of travel web site prices and compare. You can also check online at the hotel to see if there are any specials. Sometimes, you can find a better rate by contacting the hotel directly. Other items to consider:
- If you are flying, including a hotel as part of a vacation package can result in a better price.
- Stay during the week, rather than on weekends. Rates are often lower when you stay Monday night through Thursday night.
- Look locally. In some cases, a local establishment can offer lower prices than a chain. Even if it is more expensive, some local chains have amenities that make them more attractive.
No matter your plans, it is possible to save on a hotel, getting the best value for your money as you travel.
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