Fancy upgrading to a hotel that would normally be beyond your budget? Look out for ‘soft openings’ – the early days of new and refurbished hotels when you get the chance to bag a real bargain.
Theatre productions have preview performances before their grand opening night, a chance for cast and crew to iron out any last little glitches and see how the public reacts to their new creation. Football teams play pre-season friendly fixtures, to warm up the team for the serious business to come. And in similar vein, many new hotels opt to have a ‘soft opening’ – industry speak for a kind of practice run before they’re declared officially open. When the first guests start arriving, that’s when management finally finds out for sure if those beautifully designed rooms are functional as well as fashionable; if the kitchen can keep up with the feeding frenzy at the breakfast buffet.Search hotels Search flights everywhere
Book into a hotel during a soft opening period and you might find the service a little rough around the edges. After all, it takes time for a new team of staff to bond into a slick, well-oiled service machine. And it could be that all the facilities aren’t finished yet – things like spas and gyms sometimes follow behind the bedrooms. But if you’re not sure you fancy the idea of being a guinea pig guest, consider the upside: it’s reflected in the price. Room rates during soft opening periods are often appreciably lower than they will be after the official opening. So if you don’t mind waiting a couple of seconds longer for your cocktail, or jogging round the garden instead of on a running machine, you can stay in pristine new rooms and pay far less than someone who books the same room a little later.
It’s not every new hotel that has a soft opening period – some are too small or too confident to bother. In many cases, though, there’s a two or three-month window of opportunity to grab yourself a real bargain. Very few are in the know about new openings. To give you an insider edge, we’ve rounded up five fabulous hotels, currently offering discounted rates for the early days of opening…
Le Grand, Galle, Sri Lanka
Rooms from £131
There are few destinations hotter than Sri Lanka right now. In fact, Lonely Planet has just named it its number one country to visit in 2019, citing a winning combination of cultural attractions, natural beauty and welcoming people. It also has a growing number of cool places to stay, including the newly opened five-star Le Grand, Galle, set on the coast close to the Unesco World Heritage Site of Galle Fort. For most of its inaugural winter season the elegant rooms are available at a substantially reduced rate – just book to stay before the end of March 2019 and avoid 5-10 November and 20 December-10 January when the discounts don’t apply.Le Grand hotel Search flights to Sri Lanka
Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin, Bristol, UK
Rooms from £118
It’s always good to see a new Hotel du Vin – and it never takes long before it’s just as popular as all the other properties in the group. So now’s the time to bag a room at the group’s latest property, Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin in Bristol, where special opening rates are available until the end of November. Every bit of the Georgian building’s been given a stylish contemporary makeover (rooms now come with drench showers, Nespresso coffee machines and fine Egyptian cotton linens on handsprung Sealy mattresses) and there are full-on fabulous views from the large terrace overlooking the River Avon.Avon Gorge hotel Search flights to Bristol
Scandic Kødbyen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Rooms from £133
This new Copenhagen hotel welcomed its first guests in September, and while they’re not officially referring to a soft opening period they’re certainly selling rooms at lower rates than you can expect to find next year. It’s a new-build hotel, with slick modern rooms, a good restaurant and friendly staff. It’s also on the edge of the Meatpacking District, one of the city’s nightlife hotspots, so if you want to party all weekend without having too far to stumble back to your hotel, this puts you in prime position.Scandic Kødbyen hotel Search flights to Copenhagen
SALT of Palmar, Belle Mare, Mauritius
Rooms from £146
Previously La Palmeraie, this small (59-room) resort, right on the beach on the east coast of Mauritius, will be reborn on 1 November as SALT of Palmar. It’s the first opening for a new brand that aims to forge deeper connections between guests and local communities, and promises a commitment to all things ethical, environmentally friendly and sustainable – each SALT will have its own farm, adhere to the tenets of the Slow Food movement, and give guests the chance to spend time with local suppliers and producers. Book before the end of the year and you’ll also get to enjoy discounted introductory rates.SALT of Palmar hotel Search flights to Mauritius
The Datai Langkawi, Langkawi, Malaysia
Rooms from £268
The Datai Langkawi opened in 1993, bagging a prime spot where hilly jungle meets glorious sandy beach, and became an instant classic of the Malaysian hotel scene. Last year loyal fans of this exclusive tropical retreat on Langkawi island were left bereft when it closed for a major refurbishment but now, 12 months and US$60 million later, it’s back, remodelled, refreshed and raring to go. It’s also, from now until December, in soft opening mode, meaning you can check into one of its luxurious rooms or villas for around 20% off the normal rates.The Datai Langkawi hotel Search flights to Langkawi
Still looking for inspiration?
All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of publication on 6 November 2018.