When not booking the cheapest room is cheaper

I am always on the lookout for a bargain and am happy to do a little bit of extra legwork to save a few quid. Perhaps counterintuitively, this often involves ‘spending’ a little bit more money when it comes to booking hotel rooms.

Like with any service, variable pricing allows the vendor to strike the balance between offering low enough prices to attract customers whilst charging high enough prices to generate the best profit. Hotels do this a lot and it is possible to save a decent amount if you are canny about it.

Take my trip to the US where I was trying to stay in 8 Hilton properties as part of the status match challenge. Usually the lowest prices are the least flexible ones and cannot be changed. In the States, Hilton have a Semi-Flex rate which can be changed a few days before check in, and there are often other flexible rates to help put a placeholder booking in.

Take the Hilton Athenee Palace in Bucharest which I reviewed here. I booked a room on 5th June for £102 on a flexible Hilton Honors rate.

When I checked back on 4 days before travel, the same room was available for £89 – a small saving of £13.

The eagle-eyed will also spot that I changed the date – this was simply because the Hilton is slightly more central, so easier to leave bags, and the InterContinental, which we also stayed at, was slightly better placed to get back to the airport.

This was not just a one off. The H Hotel Los Angeles started off at £164.

A quick 2 minute check brought this down to £148 and a £16 saving.

I saved another £15 by doing this at the Hilton Phoenix Airport. The price of the rest of the hotels on the trip didn’t budge.

I know that we are not talking about massive sums, but the £45 was enough to cover my fuel on the road trip so not to be sniffed at for a few minutes work. I had done a similar thing at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco a couple of year before to save $150 on a night.

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