Saving money on hotels: The trick behind playing the Hotel Booking game

I needed to book a hotel motel for 4 nights in a city for work.

All they had available, were two Queen sized beds for $84.95 a pop, with one of the days being $99.95, because it was the last room left for the string of rooms.

So, I played the hotel booking game:

This is not a game I play often, because I always tend to know my dates of travel & I book well in advance to secure the cheapest (read: smallest) rooms for the best rates possible, but this time, it was a last minute 3-day notice sort of deal.

(Side note: DARN YOU TOURISTS IN JULY! šŸ˜› It jacks up all the rates by at least $20, just because it’s July. Bah.)

(Not even remotely close to the quality of hotel I normally stay in. This one is in Istanbul.

Think much farther down the food chain and much more bare bones.)

Here’s how it went down:

THE PROBLEM: They have the space available, just not all in the same room.

So to secure the one day that was fully booked, I booked the whole string of days from Monday to Friday as my backup reservation.

Total Cost for 4 days consecutively in one room: $396.43 (tax included)

Next, I made extra reservations (you can always cancel with 24 hours notice) and booked much cheaper rooms for all the 3 other days: $259.18

Then I went back to my original booking (Monday – Friday), and changed the reservation to JUST the one day that it was fully booked for, for any other cheaper rooms.

NEW & IMPROVED Total Cost for 4 days, split in two rooms at the same hotel: $365.91 (tax included)

No need to cancel any reservations. Just make sure you keep your Checking In/Out days straight.

SAVINGS = A whopping $30.52!

You’re crazy!

Kind of, yes. šŸ™‚

So why didn’t I just pay the extra $30.52?

  • $30.52 is a lot of money to me
  • If it’s all within the same hotel, no big deal because it takes 20 minutes to pack (I never really unpack)
  • I don’t like wasting money if there are other, almost-as-convenient options
  • It wasn’t like I had to shift actual hotels & drive to another for just one night
  • $30.52 is still a lot of money
  • I am a well-known guest of the hotel (as in, I stayed there every week for 2 months)
  • …so if I ask, they’ll probably *upgrade* the one-night guest & let me stay in the same room all week long

Sure, I would have paid for that one guest’s “upgrade” (technically speaking), but I’ll probably have the choice open to me if I want to stay in that room the whole week.

(They love me there.)

(Still not the quality of hotel I want to stay in, especially for long-term contracts.

Knock off another 2 stars.)

Watch out for rate changes when you change dates!

Try and change it online first, and keep an eye on whether or not the rate changes.

PROBLEM: The rate did change online, when I cut it down by one day. It spiked up to $16/night before tax!

This is because even if you just want to shorten it to one day, it will re-calculate to the new and current room rates, which may have gone up from when you last booked it.

SOLUTION: Call the hotel directly. Press 0 for the Front Desk, and nicely ask for the date change.

Then confirm the room rate hasn’t changed (or ask politely to stay at the old rate), and get an emailed confirmation.

SAVINGS = A whopping $18.08 (tax included)!

It all adds up sooner or later…

Savings so far (not including the obvious, like my not having to pay for one day in the room):

  • $30.52 — playing musical rooms, so I pay the unavoidable rate for only 1 night
  • $18.08 — calling the hotel directly for a date change


Just about the price of a really nice dinner for one, tax and tip included, wouldn’t you say?

See, I’m the type of person who bends down with her arms full, and picks up that dirty penny.

BF has seen me spot a penny from a yard away, and do a fast walk towards it.

(But that’s because I know if I don’t, his longer legs will get to it first :P)

I just like finding little ways to be creative & save cash here and there without compromising the quality of my visit.

$30 here, $20 there.. soon it’s $100 a month and I’m sitting pretty on a banked $1200 at the end of the year just by finding creative ways to save a buck.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.