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The Break Down: Booking Hotel Rooms for Maximum Value

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

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Let's talk for a minute about hotel reservations. Here are my Top Five strategies for booking London hotels.

First of all, after you get your plane tickets, the first thing you should do is book a room. London hotels can be obscenely expensive much of the year. If always feel for people who plan for the Summer and then want a nice hotel in the center for $100/night. That is a price you'd get in, say, around Heathrow, Milton Keynes or Slough which are completely devoid of any tourist attractions. And, even then, it would be a pretty average place. $100 at this moment is £80. That is a shared dorm in a hostel price. A budget hotel in London will be about $130 per night and then go up from there.

STRATEGY #1: The farther out you book, the lower your price will probably be to a point. Booking in January for a December trip will probably be at a high price just because hotels don't have a handle on projected occupancy right now. The price will probably fluctuate throughout the year. Booking in January for Summer will probably be at a price that will probably just get higher as we get closer to Summer.

STRATEGY #2: Always book the hotel's flexible rate that allows you to cancel. Yes, I know it's going to cost you more. But, how much will it cost you if you end up not going for whatever reason? The hotels DO NOT PLAY when it comes to saying you changed your mind or got the virus of the day and didn't end up coming. Our first trip post-COVID was supposed to be September 2021. Those sniffles my husband had on the day we took our required pre-flight test was not just the sniffles and 2 days later, I had it. The trip was postponed for a month. Luckily, we had flexibility with our hotel room and were able to roll the reservation forward 30 days.

HOT TIP: I have heard of people booking the flexible rate and then a week or so before they leave, they change their reservation to a non-flexible rate and save some money. It doesn't always work as prices may be higher at that point, but occasionally, it will work and you'll get a better price.

STRATEGY #3: Always book directly through the hotel site or through Send Me To London (I can help you find the perfect place!). There may be perks such as free wi-fi or reduced breakfast or early check-in/late check-out. Plus, both the hotel and you have more control over the reservation and any changes. Yes, you may see a slightly lower price on some of the third-party sites, but you may also be giving up some control over your reservation.

STRATEGY #4: Get AAA or AARP if you are booking at American brands - especially Hilton Hotels. AAA and AARP always give you the ability to change or cancel your reservation. And, look at the difference at this Doubletree. Even joining Hilton's own program doesn't give you as low of a rate. The AAA rate that is fully flexible even beats Hilton's "pay now - no cancellations" rate which is usually the best rate. We see this all over - always check for a AAA rate. You don't have to stay very many nights for it to pay for itself.

STRATEGY #5: Now that you have booked a flexible and changeable room, check the price at that hotel every week until you go. I have lowered my price by as much as 30% by doing that. Like I said, if you are booking for November/December, the price will probably fluctuate for several months. When it goes down, change your reservation. If it goes down again, do it again. I have rebooked a room 5 or 6 times and ended up saving a bunch on it. If the price just goes up, you at least booked early enough to have gotten it at the price you did. Check other desirable properties throughout this time, too. You may find another hotel that works just fine for you that suddenly has a price drop. You can book the other one and then cancel the previous reservation (in that order to protect yourself from having nothing if the new reservation doesn't work out). Or, just book the other one at the flexible rate and watch both of them. Just give yourself a HUGE reminder to cancel the one you don't want in the end.

These are TTTT (Tried and True Travel Tips for our new readers). I use this strategy every time we travel. Let me know if you have any questions about booking a hotel in London. I am happy to help you find and book something. I have an awesome short term stay provider that won't leave you in a lurch like the more commonly known ones.

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