Which country has the highest-priced hotels?
The immediate answer is the Maldives, according to Hotels.com's recently released Hotel Price Index. But the real takeaway is that for the past few years hotel prices have been rising across the globe, no matter which country you choose to visit.
The average room rate rose by an average of 3 percent in 2012, with significant gains in the Caribbean (6 percent) and North America (5 percent), according to Hotels.com.
Thankfully, there are plenty of savvy ways to save money on a hotel room today—you just need to know the insider tricks. Many have to do with navigating the increasingly complex landscape of online booking. You’ll find start-up websites such as Tingo, which offers automatic refunds when a room rate drops. DealAngel, meanwhile, will help you decide if that online find is really such a steal. And all the major booking sites are embracing “bundling” as a way to drop rates to unprecedented lows.
Sometimes saving money on a hotel is simply a matter of being aware of where—and when—rooms are at their most affordable. Right now, according to Hotels.com, you can find five-star luxury for less than $250 a night in European cities such as Berlin, Budapest, and Lisbon. Smith Travel Research, meanwhile, pinpoints affordable rates at New York City hotels during July and August (who knew?).
But perhaps the best way to bring down room rates is to take advantage of programs that many hotels put in place in the wake of the recent economic crises, when courting loyalty was key to survival. Joining hotels’ often-free loyalty programs can yield you room upgrades, complimentary breakfasts and drinks, spa credits, free Wi-Fi, early arrival, and late check-in—in short, everything you need to stretch your dollar further. It can even earn you airline miles, thanks to a pioneering partnership between Starwood and Delta.
And if you just want to get out of paying for all those added extras, we’ve got some ideas for you, from how to use Internet phone services to avoid international-call charges to which hotels are committed to free in-room Wi-Fi (hallelujah!) to our favorite extended-stay brands with in-room kitchens.
Read on for Travel + Leisure’s best tips for saving money on your next hotel stay.
Reported by Jennifer Coogan, Nikki Ekstein, Amy Farley, Jennifer Flowers, Tom Samiljan, and Peter Schlesinger.