With a bit of know-how and confidence, you can easily get more for your money on your next stay.
If you’re looking for proof of the axiom that hope springs eternal, look no further than the modern day traveller. Watch him drool over his mouse pad as he spends an average small country’s GDP on the perfect hotel suite for a romantic weekend getaway – its shaded balcony fitted for steamy embraces, its bathroom the size of a supermarket carpark, those ice-white Egyptian cottons.
Now (with a guilty glow of schadenfreude) see our traveller’s face crumple like crackling nylon bed sheets as a 102-year-old porter shows him to his room – postage-stamp sized, with a bed that could pass for an ironing board and minibar contents that were past their best when The Beatles were playing.
Yet, short of romancing front-of-house staff with your Hugh Grant patter and familysized boxes of Ferrero Rocher, how can you guarantee you’ll be the smug soul that always lands that “super-luxe” hotel room for less? Below, hotel insiders swing open the door on a few industry secrets.
The laws of supply and demand
“In recent years there’s been a revolution in the way hotel booking systems operate,” says Michael Shepherd, general manager of Hilton Park Lane and former managing director at The Savoy Hotel. “Rooms are now invariably sold on the airline-seat principle, with prices index-linked to demand.” If you want to get more bedroom for your buck, says Shepherd, you’ll need to research your date and destination. “If you’re coinciding with a conference or major festival, you’re unlikely to get value for money, or to have any bargaining power when it comes to the quality or size of your room. Before you book, contact the local tourist office in your destination for a list of dates to avoid. Also, avoid large international holidays such as Thanksgiving or the beginning of les grands vacances.”
Have a realistic goal
Hyatt Hotels and Resorts spokesperson Alison Wood has lost count of the number of guests who request rooms with a view and all of the trappings. “It’s rare that you’ll find a ‘perfect’ hotel room, even in the glitziest of hotels,” she says. “If you want a view, you’ll often find that you’re overlooking a noisy street, or the swimming pool. Look at your priorities. If you’re travelling on business, a quiet room will be important, as will size if you’re planning to work there. If you’re on a weekend leisure getaway, noise will be less aggravating.” When you know what you’re looking for, be direct, Wood says. “Call the hotel when you book and politely list your preferences – charmingly, if possible.”
More is more
As money breeds money, so too do those added extras beget further extras, says Shepherd. “Hotels are keen to satisfy their customers, and can often throw in free extras and upgrades, but they’re much more likely to do this if you’ve already paid for an addon, as spare suites will usually be allocated according to price differential. If you upgrade to a suite, you’ll be in a better bargaining position to get the best suite on offer if there’s low occupancy.”