How and where to find cheap accommodation?

find cheap accommodation

In this post we will share our experience and the best links on how and where to find cheap accommodation for your desired trip.

Accommodation is typically one of the biggest expenses to be considered when planning your travel budget. Every night you need a safe and quiet place to sleep and every night you have to pay for this place.

How to optimize your accommodation costs?

Before we start sharing how and where to find cheap accommodation, we want to highlight a couple of steps on how to optimize your accommodation costs.

  • Reduce the number of hotel stays where possible. If you fall asleep easily and are a heavy sleeper, consider replacing some of the hotels’ stays with night flights and night buses. You will not only save some money on accommodation but also a lot of time.
  • Choose the right accommodation type. Based on your travel plan search for accommodation according to your needs. Book a room with a kitchen where staying for a longer period of time or book a cheaper accommodation when staying for fewer hours before an early flight.
  • Choose the right hotel location. To find cheap accommodation avoid staying close to the main attractions or right in the city center.
  • Always read hotel reviews left by other travelers before booking a room. Only travelers who already stayed in a certain place can share advantages and disadvantages, which are often not mentioned in the room description. You can find hotel reviews on travel booking websites or browse your hotel on Trip Advisor, a go-to website for traveler reviews and photos. Do not just look at the overall rating of the property. Make sure the place is clean, quiet, and is suitable for the type of traveler you are. If you are a party lover and want to make new friends, you won’t like a place which attracts families with small kids.

Where to find cheap accommodation?

Now when you know how to reduce the number of hotel stays, how to choose the right accommodation location and the right accommodation type, and where to find accommodation reviews, we will share where to find cheap accommodation for your trip.

1. Use travel search engines to get an overview of hotel room rates

To get an overview of the room rates in your destination city, start your accommodation search from travel search engines like Scyscanner, Kayak or Trip Advisor. They offer powerful tools that compare room rates from the major accommodation booking platforms.

Travel search engines are not the actual sellers, they can only compare cheap hotel room rates and help you find the best value for your money. They have great filtering options to narrow down your search, a map of your destination city with hotel locations, a calendar to view the cheapest hotel room rates across your selected month, and many other useful features.
Once you select your preferred hotel you are redirected to the accommodation booking platform where you can complete your reservation.

The disadvantage of most travel search engines is room rates which sometimes change once you are redirected. Some of the rates can not include taxes, some can be sold out, some can be for a different room type, etc.

But overall, travel search engines are great tools which help to find cheap accommodation. They provide an overview of all possible room rates in one place and allow to recognize cheaper travel dates and destinations.

2. Use Booking.com to find cheap accommodation at your preferred destination

To save time and to avoid misleading room rates we recommend using Booking.com. The website provides cheap hotel room rates from thousands of accommodation providers worldwide.

After you book and stay in at least five properties you are entitled to a “genius account” which provides access to even more special offers and deals.

It also has a generous low-price guarantee, which allows claiming the difference in room price if you find a lower advertised price online. Booking.com refunds the difference within 24 hours before your check-in.

Booking.com offers a simple user interface, clear cancellation policy, and 24/7 support in more than 40 languages.

3. Email tour operator for cheap hotel room rates

If you are planning a longer stay at the same hotel or you are searching for a lower room rate at an exact hotel it is worth contacting a tour operator.

Tour operators have contracted room rates with certain hotels worldwide and often can offer better rates to their clients than hotel booking websites.

They get contracted rates from the hotels they attract or are willing to attract clients to. To earn their money tour operators add a margin to their contracted rates. Hotel room rates offered by tour operators are made up of contracted rates plus the margin they add to them. Tour operators can make room rates uncompetitive by reducing their margin and selling hotel rooms at the lowest rates on the market.

The more bookings tour operators make within the hotel the better rates they can expect with their next contract with the hotel. Sometimes tour operators focus on increasing the volume of travelers to a certain hotel and offer extremely low rates to their clients.

If you struggle to find cheap accommodation during peak season, it is also worth contacting tour operators. When hotel rooms are sold out everywhere else, tour operators may have them pre-booked in advance in order to be able to make a good offer to their clients.

4. Email your preferred hotel directly

Emailing your preferred hotel directly rather than booking a room via a website or a tour operator is another great way to try to get a cheap hotel room rate.

Hotels have agreements with travel booking companies, according to which they cannot publish rates on their websites that are lower than the rates published on travel booking websites.

However, when contacting hotels offline you can expect a cheap hotel room rate that is not published online.

After you check room rates on a travel booking website and with a tour operator try to contact the hotel directly to compare the rates. It may sound like old school, but depending on availability a hotel might offer you a better deal.

5. Find cheap accommodation offered by locals

Airbnb is an amazing alternative to finding cheap accommodation at the hotel. It is a website where locals offer their own homes for rent. When booking accommodation at airbnb.com you actually book it from the real person. The website offers a very wide variety of accommodation options – from tents, bungalows and boats to luxury apartments and villas.

The rooms offered by locals are often cheaper than rooms offered by hotels. However, be aware that airbnb.com is charging a traveler service fee for booking accommodation through their website. Always check the total room rate before completing your reservation.

When booking at airbnb.com try to rent a place with a kitchen. It will help you reduce your eating out costs by cooking food at home.

Also, try to book places offered by Superhosts. Superhost is the title through which Airbnb recognizes the best hosts on its website. Superhosts offer the best customer experience and do their best to make guests happy.

Airbnb.com provides 24/7 global support in 11 languages and is ready to help wherever you are. If you are new to Airbnb sign up via our Airbnb link and get €41 for your first booking.

6. Find cheap accommodation upon arrival

To search for a room upon arrival is the best way to find cheap accommodation. However, this rule more often works during a low travel season or in less popular destinations.

First of all, the travel industry is almost all about traveler demand. Every property tries to sell as many rooms per night as possible. A hotel room that is not sold this night cannot be resold the next night. It means that if you arrive at the hotel late in the evening always bargain to get the lowest possible rate.

Secondly, hotels pay commission to accommodation booking platforms for the bookings completed through their websites. Selling a room directly to the client hotels do not need to pay commission and can offer a lower room rate.

Good bargaining skills can allow you to get a cheap hotel room rate by simply showing up at the reception desk at the very last minute.

7. Try Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a website where people from all over the world share their sofas at no charge.

To become a couch surfer you need to register on couchsurfing.com and pay a small yearly fee of 15 euros to use the platform.

On couchsurfing.com you can either find a place to stay in someone’s house or offer a place at your home to other travelers. Sharing your place with other travelers and getting positive reviews increases your chances to get accepted by other hosts when traveling.

Couchsurfing is not only the way to find free accommodation around the world, but also a perfect chance to stay as a local, to make new friends, to share travel experiences, and to become a part of a great global network of travelers like you.

When looking for accommodation at counchirfing.com make sure you read other traveler reviews carefully and only stay with well-rated and experienced hosts.

To conclude…

To optimize your accommodation costs:

  • Think where you can reduce the number of hotel stays. Excluding nights which you spend on night flights, buses or trains.
  • Choose the right accommodation type based on your needs.
  • Avoid staying close to the main attractions or right in the city center.
  • Read hotel reviews left by other travelers to know what to expect.

To find cheap accommodation:

  • Visit Scyscanner to get an overview of hotel room rates for your travel dates at your destination. Skyscanner.net compares hotel room rates from the major accommodation booking platforms.
  • Booking.com accommodation booking platform typically offers the lowest room rates and clear booking conditions. Go to your preferred accommodation booking platform and choose a hotel.
  • Then contact a tour operator and your selected hotel directly to check what room rates they can offer for the same dates.
  • If you are close to your selected hotel, go to reception and ask what price they can offer.
  • Once you know room rates from all the sources you can choose the best option to book your selected hotel from.
  • If you prefer to book a room from locals visit Airbnb.
  • If you want to stay for free in someone’s house go to Couchsurfing.