The Secret to Getting Great Hotel Rates Anytime

Did you know that you can shave thousands of dollars off your travel expenses just by timing your trip correctly?

Hotels all over the world discount their rates at certain times of the year, sometimes by more than 50% during the less popular vacation months. So assuming you've got a little flexibility, try booking your hotel for for these times and places.

Beginning of the Year

Travel seems to be a great way to start a new year, according to Agoda, a growing online hotel booking service. Out of the 25 cities Agoda studied, all offer lower hotel rates during the first two weeks of the year compared to the year-long averages.

Hotel rates in New York City, for example, are dramatically slashed at the beginning of the year. On top of that, prices for other activities like watching Broadway shows and ice skating are lower as well. Agoda says that you can save as much as 40% off the average hotel rate if you travel to New York City in January or February. Trivago agrees that the cheapest month to visit the Big Apple is in February, when the average hotel rate is $267 per night — a lot cheaper than the $436 average nightly rate that hotels charge in October.

You can also find great deals in Boston in January, when Trivago says hotel rates are $190 cheaper than they are in October. However, to enjoy this discount, you'll have to contend with Boston's winter, which can see temperature lows in the 20s. For the same reason, hotels in Chicago are $138 cheaper in January than they are in June.

Barcelona, Istanbul, London, and Rome are similarly cheaper during the first two months of the year. (And probably not 17 degrees Fahrenheit.)

After School Break

Theme parks are packed during school holidays. If you want to visit Orlando, do it when the kids are back in school. You'll enjoy shorter lines and may actually have enough time for all the rides. Trivago says that hotel rates in Orlando are $38 lower per night in January than they are in March during the spring break season.

For the same reason, Miami Beach hotels are cheaper in September, when families are busy with school. Worries about the hurricane season may also have something to do with these low hotel rates. In March, Miami Beach hotels charge an average of $387 per night, in contrast to the $194 average nightly rate they charge in September.


Going skiing? You don't have to do it in the dead of winter.

The ski resorts in Colorado, for example, offer their best rates at the beginning and end of the season. Go in January or sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If you plan to travel further north, you can go later in the year. In Whistler, British Columbia, there's often great snow even in spring, when the hotels rates are much cheaper. For example, in April the Fairmont Chateau Whistler charges $189 less per night than it does in February.

Anytime But Summer

Traveling in the summer has it's advantages: outdoor festivals, busy nightlife, and long sunny days. But you'll also have to deal with the heat and the crowds, not to mention the sky-high hotel rates. According to Agoda, hotels in Oslo and Istanbul can be 50% more expensive in May compared to the year-long averages.

In much of Europe, you can get the best hotel deals from November through March. Some hotels may be closed during this off-peak season, but those that remain open often offer great rates.

You can find the best bargains in San Francisco from November through May. In December particularly, hotel rates average $201 per night, compared to $324 per night in September.

The Holidays

Hotel rates during the end-of-year holiday season are notoriously high. However, some cities actually have their low season during the last week of December. If you want to spend Christmas away from home, choose Oslo, Stockholm, or Riyadh for the lowest hotel rates.

Stable Cities

In some places, hotel rates don't change much throughout the year. If you plan to travel during peak season, you may do well be to choose these cities.

Agoda's survey finds that popular Asian destinations don't discount their hotel rates much. In Tokyo, for example, hotel rates during the first week in January are only 17% cheaper than the average. Around the same time of the year in Seoul, hotel rates are only 10% cheaper than the average.

Taipei's hotels are at their cheapest during the first week of July, but even then they're only offering about 9% discount off the average nightly rate.

Have you taken advantage of off-season discount pricing to travel? Where did you go?

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Guest's picture

The other big secret is to book last minute. Through Hotwire, Priceline, and HotelTonight you can get good deals. Or you can just go old school and negotiate directly. Hoteliers hate to give up a chance to sell an otherwise empty room as it costs them very little to add one more guest or couple.

Guest's picture
Naomi Liz | Roaming the Americas

These are excellent tips! I've found fantastic prices at a beach town in Delaware during January--around $130-$150 per night for a beautiful suite, right on the water. In the summer, the rooms go for $400-$500 per night. I love the sleepiness of beach towns in the winter anyway, so it's a perfect "beginning of the year" getaway.