Lodging is something like shoes- some people are looking for amenities, others low cost, while others are looking for luxury. So unlike flights, it’s difficult to point folks in one common direction to find the best hotel deals, especially because it depends on the type of vacation you’re trying to take. Therefore, I’ll walk you through how I typically go by finding lodging.
Find The Best Hotel For You
Only you can determine what type of lodging will work for you and what type of vibe you’re looking for on this particular trip. Sometimes it’s not a matter of knowing what you want, but potentially knowing what you don’t want. That way you can cross the options you don’t want off your list as you find the best hotel deals for you.
A few questions to ask yourself:
- Are you looking for a low-cost vacation? Maybe a hostel would be of interest to you?
- Is luxury what you’re looking for? What type of amenities do you require? Balcony, pool, restaurants/bars, etc?
- Is there a specific attraction you want to be near? What is “near” to you? Walking distance, public transportation, or driving?
- What type of vibe are you looking for? Trendy? Eclectic? High-end? Artistic?
- Type of Lodging:
- Hotel- do you prefer a large chain hotel or boutique hotel with a small quantity of rooms? Or maybe you don’t have a preference?
- What about home rentals like Airbnb? Are you open to them? Do you want the entire place or are you okay with sharing some common spaces?
- Your Group
- The amount of space required. It’s challenging to find a hotel suite with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms- especially one that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Therefore, we mostly do Airbnb for our family vacations.
- Traveling with the kiddo(s)? Do you want a crib or other amenities for children (i.e. kids play area?)
Pro Tip: Be sure to ask your hotel or Airbnb if they have a crib. You’d be surprised how many of them do.
Find The Best Location For You
As you know, most cities are divided into multiple neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has a different vibe, types of attractions, and affordability. Therefore, the first thing I do is a simple Google search- ”Where to stay in _________.” Literally, multiple articles will appear that breaks the city down by neighborhood detailing what’s nearby, the neighborhood’s vibe, and the general “socio-economic” status- i.e. a good neighborhood to find a hotel deal or not, along with many other details.
Below is a screenshot of the type of information you will find in your search. The below example is a description of neighborhoods in Havana, Cuba.
Lonely Planet. Havana in Detail. Where to Stay [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://www.lonelyplanet.com/cuba/havana/in-location/sleeping/where-to-stay/a/nar/f42760c3-ce89-432d-8b35-500716403efc/358014
Find Your Best Hotel Deal
Okay, so the above may seem like a lot, but don’t let it be. Just do a quick gut-check. There aren’t any wrong answers as it’s your vacation. You know if there is a certain budget you’re trying to stick to or if there is one neighborhood in your quick Google search that you do (not) like.
Google Flights and SkyScanner
Once I have an idea of the type of lodging I’m looking for, I always start with the hotel chains I have status, because, points…either I want to use my points or earn points. If you don’t have a hotel chain preference, both Google Flights and SkyScanner are good places to start. Filter by the information you know- location, price point, amenities, etc. You should be able to find some good hotel deals.
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If my preferred hotel chains don’t have options I’m interested in or I’m traveling with family and need space, then I’ll go to Airbnb to see what options are there. I still apply my preferences- always the entire place, and whichever location and amenities I am interested in.
Even on a budget trip, I’m looking for some type of luxury. Therefore, if the above strategies still don’t fit into my desired budget, I use the Priceline Express Deals. This is the option where you do not know the name of the hotel- just the star rating, customer reviews, amenities, and neighborhood. The good thing is they guarantee that the hotel is one of the brands they list in that specific Express Deal. Below is an example from a New Orleans Express Deal.Source: Source: Priceline Website
I used this option for my solo birthday trip to Nassau, Bahamas. My goal was to have the entire trip cost around $1000 for a 3 day, 2 night mini vacation. Well, the prices of Nassau hotels shocked me at over $300 per night, not including taxes, resort fees, etc, easily costing over $800 for both nights.
With Priceline Express Deals, I was able to scoop the Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar, a beautiful resort on the ocean with multiple restaurant and pool options. Both nights totaled less than $500, saving over $150 per night. I’ve actually used Priceline Express Deals, previously named “Name your Price” a few times before. I’ve never been disappointed with my hotel. I always go for a 4-star hotel, at the minimum, in a neighborhood that I’m comfortable staying in.
I recently noticed that they now offer a Pricebreakers option which names three hotel options. However, you won’t know which hotel is yours until after you purchased the hotel.
Don’t Overthink It
Again, don’t overthink your hotel selection- especially if the reviews are good and the amenities/location meet your needs. For most vacations, you just want a nice place to lay your head and potentially grab a bite to eat and have a drink.