Sometimes planning ahead just isn’t possible: you need a room in a hotel, and you need it ASAP. Open your web browser or smartphone and you have a range of options to find somewhere to rest in the next few days, without having to pay too much to book it.
Of course, some trial and error is required – it’s not always an exact science – but you should at least be able to maximize your chances of getting a room for less. The good news is that if hotels have spare capacity for tonight or the next few days, they will be eager to rent for whatever they can get rather than let it go to waste.
Many of the same tips and tricks that apply to finding cheap hotel rooms also apply to finding cheap hotel rooms in the very short term. You do, sure, want to compare the prices of several hotels (luckily there are plenty of sites and apps to help you do this, see below), consider staying further away from your destination to save money and do the use of any hotel memberships you have.
It may also be worth contacting a handful of hotels directly, although it can take valuable time: some offer deeper discounts if you don’t go through a third-party site, and you may be able to negotiate a better price if you talk to a real human. For sites and apps that can help you, read on…
LateRooms.com is one of the sites that particularly focuses on last-minute deals, although it can also find you a room whenever you want. Tap the key details of where in the world you’re going and when you need a room, and you’ll see a range of detailed options pop up on your screen, even if you’re looking for something the same night .
The site will try to find the rooms that suit you best (traveling as a couple, alone, or for work, for example), and the results can be organized by review or price. Information about free cancellations, any prepayment required, number of rooms left, and how much discount you can get are also displayed in the results, which we like.
The clue is in the name: HotelTonight is geared towards last minute hotel deals and mobile apps for android and iOS are well worth a look, as well as the main site. The default search is for hotel rooms on the night of the reservation, so enter your destination to see what’s available plotted on a map and as a list of results.
There’s a lot of useful stuff here: overnight prices of course, plus hotel types, discount sizes, and the ability to sign up for price drop email alerts in the future. Also check out the daily drop, which offers the biggest discount for the night, but has a time limit on it. The brief but informative summaries you get for each hotel on the list are very well done, too.
As we mentioned above, more generalized search sites can also be useful for finding last-minute details, and that’s certainly true for SkyScanner. Start your search under Hotels and choose your notice dates, and you’ll get a host of results that can be filtered by price, review score, distance to your current location, and hotel type.
You can also limit the search results to hotels with free cancellation or no prepayment, and there are also checkboxes for hotel rooms with offers and discounts. Add to that the ability to choose particular amenities (like free parking or a gym), and it’s a complete service. It’s hard to beat in terms of ease of use and flexibility of search filters.
Another versatile travel search site that can help you with last minute deals, Hotels.com brings the search box to the front so you can start looking for places right away. Price is probably the most important factor, but you can also filter results by hotel type, guest rating, distance to your location, free cancellation, and more.
You get a wealth of information about each hotel to help you decide where you want to stay, and some will display a secret price tag next to them: you’ll need to create an account on the site to access them, and you get a little less flexibility in terms of choices (like room type), but they can be a convenient way to get bigger discounts on your stay.
hot wire is a Popular hotel discount site that takes the approach of keeping your hotel a secret until you’ve actually booked it: you get a lower rate and hotels get their rooms, but they don’t have to advertise publicly that they have spare rooms at reduced prices. You can get some pretty big savings in the short term here.
The catch is that you have less choice in terms of the type of hotel you stay in, the type of room you can choose, and the upgrades available. These offers are also non-refundable, so if your plans change, you still have to pay. You can view the price, hotel amenities, and general hotel location before committing to making a reservation.