The Best Time to Book a Hotel

Hotel Booking Strategies That Will Save You Cash

Woman on vacations is going on a trip and making a reservation online
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There's a lot of buzz around when to book a flight, but you should really be worrying about when it's the best time is to book a hotel. If you're staying in a hotel more than just a night, you have the opportunity of saving substantially more money getting a low hotel price than a low flight. 

Whether you're booking in advance or last minute, you can find out the best time to book a hotel based on your destination and time of year, expert advice, and price tracking.

The Best Time to Book a Hotel in Advance

Hotel prices are all based on demand so ultimately you want to book that hotel when the demand for the hotel is the lowest. Here's usually when that happens for some popular vacation spots.

  • New York City: The best time to book a trip to NYC is 2-3 months in advance unless you are going during the summer and then your best bet is to book 1 month ahead of time.
  • Europe: You'll find the lowest prices when you book the same day. That's not always feasible so if you can do it within 7 days you'll still save some cash. This advice especially holds true when visiting Paris and London. 
  • Mexico: Look for early book promotions for Mexico, you'll want to book your trip to Mexico 3-6 months in advance for the high season, which is December to May.
  • Caribbean: Plan on booking within 4 months if you're traveling to the Caribbean. 

The day of the week may matter when you book too. Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, and day after holidays are typically when rates are at their lowest for the week.

If you're booking a summer vacation, the best deals are often found around the 1-month mark before you check-in.

Keep in mind that if you are booking a destination during a holiday or a special event, the best time to book is always as soon as you are able to. Hotels do fill-up and there's little wiggle room during these high-demand times.

Get Expert Advice on When to Book

Most people are booking hotels online themselves and while it's convenient and easy, you may want to consider contacting an expert for booking your hotel. 

Travel agents are free to use and they are experts on when is the best time to book a hotel based on your specific destination and even specific hotel. They get a lot of information that's not available to the everyday traveler and they are happy to pass it on to save you money.

They also are in the know on available deals for where you're traveling as well as when annual promotions usually happen for certain hotel chains and resorts.

Tracking Hotel Prices

Beyond the general advice for the best time to book a hotel, you also might save some money by using a hotel price prediction app or website. Put in your check-in date and they'll use hotel booking data to predict when the best date is to book your hotel between now and then.

Here are some hotel price forecasting resources that will help you decide when you book. 

  • Hopper: Hopper has been forecasting airfare prices for years and now they've starting forecasting hotels with their app. It works best for booking a specific hotel. They'll tell you if now is the time to book and if it isn't they'll send you a push notification when it is.
  • HotelsCombined: Select a hotel and check-in/check-out dates and you'll get an alert whenever the price drops by at least 10%.
  • Kayak: Set an alert for a city or specific hotel and you'll receive daily or weekly (your choice) emails or mobile notifications when the price drops. No fancy prediction here but it does help you keep track of prices.

Options for Booking Last Minute

Booking last minute is a gamble. If you're staying in a city where there are no major events happening and it's off-season, it may benefit you to wait until the last minute. However, if it's a big trip and you have specific wants and needs, it may not be worth the stress to wait. 

If you do book last minute, here are some resources to help you get the best rate.

  • HotelTonight: Find the best rates with the HotelTonight app by entering your check-in and check-out dates.
  • HotelQuickly: Get a low price guarantee from the HotelQuickly app that will help you find the best hotel deals for the night.

Tips for Getting the Best Hotel Rate

When you're ready to book your hotel, use these tips on getting an even better hotel rate.

  • Book within the cancellation period. If the price of the hotel room lowers, simply cancel your room and then rebook. 
  • Sign up for hotel loyalty programs. Signing up initially for a loyalty program can sometimes get you a discount and once you rack up some points you can get a free room or upgrade.
  • Look at hotel packages. Be sure to look at all those package options before you book your hotel. Believe it or not, sometimes these packages that have extra freebies can be even cheaper than the standard room rate.
  • Book with the hotel directly. Call the hotel on their actual number (not the 800 reservation numbers) to book your room. If you don't like the price, don't be afraid to ask for a cheaper one.
  • Bundle your flight and your hotel. Bundling can save you money but sometimes cost you money. Compare the prices carefully to see if you can save.
  • Check out your membership perks. If you belong to a program like AARP or even have a warehouse shopping card, you may be able to get hotel discounts through them. 
  • Choose a mystery hotel. Use a website like Hotwire to book a hotel. You'll know the star level and location but not the actual hotel. 
  • Look beyond the average hotel. Check out all your options including business hotels (these often have lower rates in the summer), inns, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals. You may find a cheaper and even nicer option with one of these.