By Jenny | Edited by Steve N Updated October 2015
Never assume hotel or hostel prices are fixed. Book right and massive savings are possible on UK and worldwide rooms.
This step-by-step guide shows you how to save Ј100s with top hotel comparison sites, mystery mega-bargains, cheap-yet-clean hostels and much more.
Pay less for the same hotel room
Never assume one price fits all when it comes to hotel rooms. Just as Beyoncй CDs are sold at different prices in different shops, the same hotel or B&B room is sold by different places at different prices.
The impact can be huge. As an example, we found five nights in February at the same five-star Hong Kong hotel on sale for Ј445 and Ј1,500 on different sites.
Step 1. Find a good hotel
The first aim's to find a top establishment, within your budget, then to try to get it as cheap as possible. If you already know where you want to stay, go to Step 2. If not, read on.
Don't trust the star system
Picking a cheap suite involves cutting through vast swathes of information, yet there's a golden rule to start with.
Don't trust the star system. It's based on facilities, not quality. There's no ranking standardisation worldwide.
The hotel star system's a mess. It often differs within countries, never mind worldwide. Stars may be given by governments, review organisations or even the hotel itself. Package tour operators tend to be overly generous, often a star higher than independent reviews. See a full guide to what stars mean.
Use a comparison site
Start by putting details into a comparison site and sorting hotels by price. Trivago* is a good one for this.
For more inspiration, check out travel brokers such as Expedia*. Travelocity and Ebookers* because they give a decent benchmark price at a legit hotel. Plus they sometimes have special offers on specific hotels, so you may get lucky at the off.
A worldwide institution, TripAdvisor* lists detailed reviews and customer ratings for hotels and pictures taken by past guests. Search for different hotels to see whether they're palaces or
Always remember anyone can pen a review. Some hoteliers sign up and post glowing reports of their own hotels. Beware of gushing endorsements in brochure-speak, and click on the reviewers' usernames. If they’ve only bothered to post once, they could be dodgy.
For UK hotels, the independent Good Hotel Guide's free site reviews UK hotels. Entries in the guide are based on visits by undercover inspectors, so it's well worth a look.
Step 2. Check the hotel's own price
Once you know where you want to stay, always check what the hotel itself offers and whether it has any special deals. It may offer early booking promotions or 3-for-2-night deals that comparison sites miss.
Step 3. Use a cheap hotel comparison site
To broaden your search further, try TravelSupermarket*.
Popular review site TripAdvisor* lets you read reviews and do quick comparisons.
While it won't be winning design awards any time soon, Hotels Comparison is also worth a check to confirm the deal you've found is the best one.
Step 4: Look out for taxes
There's one thing to always check when you're searching for a hotel, which can mean some sites unfairly come up cheapest.
Many countries charge a Ј10-Ј30 per day room tax. Not all sites include this, so always check.
Some hotel websites hide the true cost of a stay until the final booking page. In some cases, the first time you'll find out the true figure is at the hotel. This is because websites sometimes say taxes at the relevant percentage rate for that destination apply, on top of the price displayed.
Even comparison sites sometimes show the price minus taxes, so always click through to check the final price before choosing. See the Revealed: Hidden hotel charges MSE news story.
Also watch for sites which have rooms 'on request'. This means there's not actually a room free, rather the availability needs to be checked with the hotel. Be careful not to go for one of these and lose a firm cheap deal elsewhere.
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