Apologies: this is not related to P2P, but I want to post it as I am constantly sharing with friends/ family and thought it would be easier to write down for once! It may come in handy if you are planning a foreign break to escape the colder months.
These are my (now well practised) steps to get the best discounts on hotels:
Search for your favourite hotel booking sites (mine are Hotels.com and Booking.com) on the cashback websites Topcashback and Quidco and mentally note the cashback rates on each one. Often hotels.com will have 10%-12% cashback and Booking and Agoda around 4%.
Expedia and lastminute have good cashback rates but I’ve stopped checking for these as they never seem to beat my favourite hotels in price. If you are a hostel person, you can usually find 40%+ cashback on Hostelworld.com: this is based on the deposit (not the whole price).
Use a hotel comparison tool in a separate browser or incognito window to search for the hotel you want. The separate browser is to ensure that your click through from the cashback site has no other claims for the referral fee. Hotels Combined is an OK, more well known hotel price comparison tool. If you just search ‘Hotels in London’ in Google, Google now has its own hotel price comparison tool which is quite good. However, my favourite is the SkyScanner.com hotel search.
There is a bit of controversy in the news about hotel comparison sites at the moment: the competition watchdog thinks they may be misleading customers. So, it’s best to check a couple and not trust that they show you the full picture. Nowadays I always just order by customer review score and then scroll through to find ones in my price range/location, whilst mentally applying the cashback rates from step 1.
From time-to-time, Amoma comes up as having unbelievably good prices. I think they achieve this buy buying the hotel reservations with bulk/ corporate reservations in advance, then just give you a voucher for your room instead of freshly book it to your name. I have used it once and it was fine, but I still don’t fully trust it.
You can often save even more money by doing price matches. I have done this both with Hotels.com and Booking.com.
In the case of Hotels.com, it was their own website that had a cheaper price when I searched for it slightly later. Note that to price match, they often state you need to inform them at least 24 hours before the day you check in.
In the case of Booking.com, I saw the room cheaper on Agoda, but as I have more experience with Booking, I asked them for a price match straight away. It was very easy in both cases to claim the cashback.
Cashback & Refer Your Friends
An extra way to save money is to refer your friends. Airbnb give £25 off to your friend and £15 off to you. Booking.com give £15 off to both you and another £15 to your friend. If you are travelling with your partner and invite them, you can save £30 or £40 this way. We’ve done this with Airbnb using the same billing address but a different card.
Other methods I’ve read to cut costs (but which I don’t use myself):
- Call the hotel directly and negotiate a price. They have to pay commission to the intermediary (booking.com etc) – so may be happy to give you the ‘real’ price. Though, this may become a more expensive option if you have to call a non-UK number with not-so-great English language skills on the other end!
- Use cashback credit cards.
- Collect hotel loyalty points/ airmiles.