Making affordable hotel choices

By Mir
February 21, 2007

Ah, the delights of travel. The fun of staying in a hotel where someone else makes your bed! The trepidation as you remember that investigative news show where you found out what a black light reveals on those bedspreads! And last but not least, the emptiness of your wallet. Alas.

Does it have to be that way? I say no.

Hello, lovely, pretty Mir!

Knight and I are thinking about taking a trip to San Antonio for a weekend, and, being the bargain-hunter that I am, looked for deals on and I didn’t find anything that made me do cartwheels, so I thought I’d check to see what you knew about the subject. We’re driving, so we don’t need airfare. I’m just looking for a deal on a hotel room near the Riverwalk. We’re also planning to use a gift certificate from

Thanks bunches!


Look how pretty Rachel is, already planning on ways to save money. I’m proud of her already!

I had to do some digging around on this one, because of course the very best way to get a deal on a hotel is to buy some sort of package deal with airfare and/or a rental car, and that’s not what Rachel needs.

Did you happen to buy an Entertainment Book this year? They have pretty good hotel coupons, although that’s a moot point if you don’t have the book and don’t want one. (Though you can still get $10 off and a $25 dining certificate with each book, through that link, if you’re interested.) That’s my first suggestion.

My second suggestion, if you’re a bit flexible about which hotel you use, is to try Priceline. In fact, I see they have a 4-star hotel in downtown San Antonio at half price right now. If that one doesn’t float your boat, try the Name Your Own Price option. I’ve heard plenty of people sing the praises of that service. And unlike their Name Your Own Price deal for airfare, it’s not as though you’re potentially going to wind up having to fly at the crack of dawn, or anything.

If you can’t find what you want through Priceline, I’d try BookingBuddy, which is a great aggregate search engine for travel stuff.

I recently read on a deal site where a user claimed that TripRewards has a “lowest price or it’s free” claim for their hotels which is easily utilized for free accommodations simply by targeting a hotel and then finding it cheaper online. I don’t know if I’d necessarily feel right going that route, myself, but you may want to investigate it.

And here’s a general strategy: When you book a hotel online through a deal site, the hotel is paying a cut to that site as a sort of finder’s fee. That means that if you book directly with a hotel for the same price, the hotel actually makes more money. So, what does that mean for you? It means that if you do find a price online that works for you, but you don’t want to deal with the restrictions of the site offering it—such as not being able to cancel, once booked—call the hotel directly and ask if they will extend the same price to you as what you found on the travel site. Usually they will.

I hope that helps, Rachel. Have a great trip! (Take me with you? Rachel? Come back!)


  1. Wow… *blush* … I kind of feel like a celebrity, being mentioned like this on your pretty site!

    Thanks so much — I’ll look into these this evening at home. You’re soooooooooooooooooo pretty!

  2. It used to be that you would call the hotel, ask three times “is that the best rate you have available” until you ended up with the lowest rate plus breakfast thrown in. or whatever.

    But lately it’s been my experience that the darned hotels will not match the on line price and that even the lowest quote you get by actually phoning the hotel itself is the worst price available. Second worst is calling the hotel chain’s 800#. (Lately even the 800# operators will not match the online price). Best is some variation of on line booking – sometimes the booking sites like orbitz, sometimes the hotel chain’s own site. I have also had good luck with Priceline. I’ve found the trick is to try to figure out what rating priceline gives the hotel you want and then use that rating in your request.

    Also, is an invaluable site if you’re looking for feedback on various hotel choices.

  3. The best success I’ve had with Priceline is to use Name Your Own Price for the highest star rating in the city (similar to what Nancy says above). Make your bid after you’ve checked out what deals there are on other sites, including their own (I’ve found Priceline’s regular “discount” offers are usually about the same as the other discount web sites.) Once you’ve narrowed down location and star rating, you can almost predict which hotels you’re likely to get with NYOP. If your offer is too lowball and comes back rejected, you’ll know you’re close to getting your price when Priceline tells you to offer $25 more per night and you’ve got it. We have stayed in some wonderful hotels using this strategy.

  4. I’m tucking this advice away for September when I need to be in North Carolina for a wedding! I’ve never had any good luck with those websites because I find them confusing to navigate and they sometimes won’t let me used tabbed browsing, which is the current love of my life! Good luck, Rachel and thanks Mir!

  5. hah…nothing of any substance or help to contribute here..just wanted to say that i’m am HIGHLY amused at the whole “damsel” and “Knight” thing…teehee…too cute!

  6. Another vote for’s name your own price. Hubby and I use it ALL the time. We routinely stay in 4 star hotels for 50-65 a night. We once stayed at the 5 star Hyatt Huntington Beach for $75/night (of course parking was $20/day 🙂 We use it for rental cars too.

  7. Thanks, Laura! 🙂

    Knight and I are exploring all of the lovely options presented by the pretty people here! I’ve never tried priceline’s NYOP option. I think I’m too much of a control freak. It scares me to put in my credit card info and not know *exactly* what I’m going to be charged for. Maybe it’s time to bite the bullet, though. Is it really true that they won’t charge you at all if they don’t have, hypothetically speaking, a 4-star hotel in downtown San Antonio for $50 a night? They won’t just reserve some other room for you that they can get at that price or on some other date?

    This may all sound silly to the pretty, wise and experienced general public out there, but we don’t have the money to travel much so… I’m leery of putting my money out there without knowing exactly what I’ll get, since I don’t have the comfort of saying, “Oh, well, better luck next time.” However, since we *don’t* have much money for this, I’m also very, very interested in getting the most bang for our buck. Sort of a Catch-22 situation…

    Thanks again for your help, pretty Mir!!!

  8. I have used HotWire also, and recommend it. You do not know the hotel you are booking, but you know the rating and the general area. My father and I booked two rooms in Ft. Lauderdale to visit family for $39/night at a hotel that was $90/night on other travel sites. And I have gotten great deals for Atlanta also. They can not provide the hotel info until after you book the deal b/c they can not advertise the delicious rate or nobody would pay top dollar! Very pretty!

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