Other Ways to Save
Many hotels unload unsold rooms on-line at bargain prices. Here are some top sites for bottom rates:
• Hotels.com (www.hotels.com) has special deals at thousands of places in North America, Europe, and 10 Asian cities. Quikbook (www.quikbook.com) is similar but concentrates on U.S. destinations. • Some of the lowest hotel rates for hundreds of North American cities can be found on Hotwire (www.hotwire.com). The trade-off: you learn the name of your hotel only after paying in advance for your stay—and the money's not refundable. • The Big Three travel sites—Expedia (www.expedia.com), Travelocity (www.travelocity.com), and Orbitz (www.orbitz.com)—have special rates at hundreds of hotels worldwide.
Don't forget about that old-line medium, books. Hip Hotels: Budget by Herbert Ypma (Thames & Hudson) lists stylish, affordable properties worldwide. Cheap Hotels by New York Times Frugal Traveler columnist Daisann McLane (Taschen) surveys 200 off-the-beaten-track hotels that capture local ambience.
Many distinctive hotel chains have more affordable rates than those of the larger, cookie-cutter properties. • The Kimpton Group (800/546-7866; www.kimptongroup.com), godfather of the boutique movement, began in San Francisco, where it now has 16 hotels, plus 21 others across the continent—many under its Hotel Monaco brand. • W Hotels (888/625-5144; www.whotels.com), the trendy arm of lodging giant Starwood, owns properties in 10 U.S. cities and in Sydney. They're not always the best deal in town, but check the Web site for bargains. • In New York, Amsterdam Hospitality Group (888/664-6835; www.nychotels.com) offers 10 properties with cool décor and rates well below the city's average. • On the West Coast, Joie de Vivre (800/738-7477; www.jdvhospitality.com) has 23 chic boutiques in San Francisco, Marin County, and Silicon Valley. WestCoast Hotels (800/325-4000; www.westcoasthotels.com) owns properties in the Pacific Northwest. And the Ayres Hotel Group (www.countrysuites.com) runs 17 hotels—some kitschy—in southern California.