1. Embrace off-peak
Don’t assume that the gorgeous luxury hotel in the centre of Paris will be out of your price range if you’re visiting on a weekend. If the hotel’s clients are mostly business travellers, it’s highly likely it will have empty rooms on Saturdays and Sundays, and staff will be keen to fill these rooms – often by offering seriously reduced rates. For this reason, hotels near financial districts will often be great options for weekend stays, and similarly, if you’re looking for accommodation mid-week, don’t make the mistake of writing off those luxury hotels near the Eiffel Tower. Most of the hotel’s customers will be weekend warriors, and mid-week prices will often be significantly cheaper.
2. Love those loyalty schemes
Hotels are keener than ever before to retain customers, and they’re doing this by simplifying their loyalty schemes. These days, you can still collect points even if you haven’t booked directly with the hotel (meaning you can still find your accommodation using your beloved Skyscanner!). And more and more properties are rolling out these loyalty schemes, so always ask about the benefits of signing up, whether you’re heading to a luxury hotel in Barcelona or opting for budget accommodation in New York City. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the majority of chain hotels are owned by a handful of enormous companies, so you’ll be surprised at how quickly your points rack up, providing access to perks like upgrades, discounted room rates and complimentary spa treatments.
3. Get off the beaten path
As a rule, hotels further afield will cost much less than those near main stations and popular tourist attractions. And cheaper room rates aren’t the only perk for those who venture further afield. Splashing out on a night at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands might well mean fantastic views, but plump for a boutique property in up-and-coming Singapore neighbourhoods like Little India and you’ll discover a side of Singapore you never knew existed – and will spend significantly less. See yourself in Singapore? Here’s our weekend guide to the Lion City.
4. Track prices
We’re not usually ones to brag, but there’s a whole range of Skyscanner tools which can help save you cash, unlocking cheaper flights and fantastic hotel deals, meaning more spending money for your holiday. Use Skyscanner’s price alerts to find out about air fare fluctuations (you’ll get an email the moment the flight you’re tracking increases or decreases in price), and if you’re flexible about when you fly, use the "whole month" option to find when flights are cheapest. And don’t forget that on our hotel search homepage we’ll always list our favourite hand-picked hotels in the most popular destinations – finding your hotel this way is a great way to discover a new property, and you’ll also be able to search for hotels by location – simply click on "explore" to see a map displaying the hotels in that particular destination.
5. Ask for an upgrade
Wondering how to get an upgrade? Start by ignoring anyone who tells you that free upgrades are a thing of the past. With airlines facing more financial struggles than ever before, it’s more common for flights to be overbooked, meaning more people than ever are being given complimentary upgrades due to over-selling of economy seats. But be nice. Trust us, if you moaned to the check in staff about the long queue, you’re hardly going to be top of the list when it comes to complimentary upgrades. Follow these travel hacks for more tips on how to get upgraded.
6. Learn how to home share
Thanks to sites like Airbnb, there are now more ways than ever to bag stays in amazing properties for next to nothing. In some cases, you don’t even have to pay a penny. If you’re on a budget, choose the room-only option, but if you value your privacy, go for “whole property.” And then there are the house-swapping sites, which allow you to stay in someone else’s property for free (they can then stay in yours). One of the best house-swapping sites is www.trustedhousesitters.com, which is also popular with animal lovers – it’s used mainly by pet owners looking for people willing to care for their animals and live in their house while they’re on holiday. You’ll usually enjoy additional perks you won’t find in hotels, such as the use of family cars.
7. Choose your credit card that’s made for travellers
If you’ve got a credit card, consider switching to one specifically designed for travellers, such as Halifax’s Clarity credit card. There are also new banks like Monzo that offer debit cards and current accounts with 0 fees on foreign transactions. You won’t get charged for taking money out while abroad, and you’ll also enjoy preferential rates when purchasing foreign currency. The vast majority of banks now offer credit cards with similar perks – whether it’s the opportunity to accrue air miles or great deals on travel money.
8. Consider going all-inclusive
All-inclusive properties have come a long way since the days of buffet stampedes and watered down beer. Today’s all inclusive hotels are much classier affairs, and a number of independent hotels are going down the all-inclusive route too, allowing guests to combine value for money with top quality food and facilities. It’s also becoming increasingly common for hotels to offer all-inclusive packages, so always ask if this is something your property offers.
9. Go local
When we’re in a strange city, it’s all too easy to jump in a cab. But those taxi fares (see also: Uber receipts) soon add up. The thought of using local transport in a new city might seem daunting, but doing so will save you serious amounts of cash. That luxury hotel in Tokyo might well make their overpriced airport transfer sound particularly tempting, but taking the metro will cost you a fraction of the price. Taking local transport is also a great way to get to know a place. The driver from your hotel might well profess his love for the in-house (and very expensive) restaurant, but a friendly tuk-tuk driver is a much better (and impartial) source of information.
10. Stay in new hotels
Always take a few minutes to find out if there are new hotels opening in the destination you’re heading to. Ask about availability even if the official opening date is a few days after your visit. Prior to the official opening (and often for several weeks afterwards) hotels will operate under “soft opening” terms. This period allows management to iron out any glitches, with the help of feedback from guests, who are often offered significantly reduced rates in return for filling in feedback forms and agreeing not to post complaints on social media.