Planning a short break or a family holiday can be a stressful affair, especially when you see the what the final cost will be. There are ways to get a better deal though, by ensuring you get the best possible deal for a hotel when booking it online. And we'll show you a few ways to beat the system and snag a room without paying over the odds.

The same goes for getting the cheapest flight online

Don’t rely solely on comparison sites

While there’s nothing wrong with using comparison sites such as Expedia, Booking.com, and Hotels.com, you might not always be getting the best deal when you use their search engines to find a hotel.

The reasons for this are that hotels often offer special discounts, seasonal pricing, or styles of room that are not available through comparison sites. It’s a good idea to use the likes of Expedia to find a variety of locations and see what the going rate is, and if you find a killer deal then by all means snap it up. But you might also want to explore further options to see if there’s a better offer available.

Use a VPN when researching hotels online

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are becoming an increasingly important part of online life these days. Not only do they protect your privacy from potential hackers when you’re using public Wi-Fi, but they can also have a dramatic effect on the prices you’ll see from hotels.

This is down to the fact that VPNs not only create a secure connection between your device and the server you’re trying to reach, but they can also make it appear that you are in a different country or region. This can be used to your advantage, as online booking algorithms often take location into account when providing a price.  

We’ve seen plenty of occasions when customers from less economically wealthy countries are offered lower prices online than their affluent counterparts. So, if you set the VPN location to an area such as Africa or South America then visit the same hotel site, you may be in for a pleasant surprise.

It’s not foolproof, but certainly worth a go. Be sure to experiment with locations to see how it affects the price.

Our current favourites are NordVPN and ExpressVPN, but you’ll find plenty of other excellent options in our roundup of the best VPN services.

Try different browsers and private modes

Along the same lines as the VPN tip, you can also find price variances occur when you use different browsers and incognito or private modes as well. These might not be as substantial as with a VPN, but it’s well worth experimenting by using Chrome on a site, then switching to Firefox, Opera or any of the others in our guide to the best web browsers.

When you use your browser, there is plenty of information that can be gleaned from it that gives algorithms an idea of who you might be and what you might be able to afford. Avoid these intrusions by using a clean browser (one you don’t normally use) set to its private mode.

A while back there were instances when people using Apple devices were being charged more less than those on Android, and mobile users were offered different prices to those on desktops. If you really want to find the ultimate bargain, then you might also want to try different devices before you click the buy button.

Contact hotels directly

As we mentioned above, contacting a hotel directly rather than through a comparison site can sometimes give you access to a cheaper rate for rooms. The logic is simple, in that comparison sites charge hotels commission for each sale, which can often be added to the baseline price of a room. Going direct can mean you manoeuvre around this mark-up.  

 how to get best hotel deals online

We’ve heard that some comparison sites insist that hotels don’t offer cheaper deals anywhere else online, so calling them is probably the best option. Just remember to be polite and accept that smaller outlets might already be running at a bare minimum of profit. If you want cottages and interesting independent locations to be available in future, driving their prices into the ground might feel good for a few days but result in only the major chains existing next time you want a break.

Use hotel loyalty schemes

A simple way to reduce the cost of a trip is to sign up to a hotel chain’s loyalty scheme. Many of the large brands offer these free incentives, which regularly feature discounted deals and allow you to rack up points with every stay.

Some of the most popular include Marriot, Le Club Accor (Novotel, Mercure, and others), and Hilton.

You can make some great savings through these schemes but do bear in mind that it might be a little while before you’re offered anything substantial. So, if time is of the essence then you might want to move onto our final tip.

Make use of cashback sites

Another, more immediate way, to cut the cost of your holiday is to use a cashback site when making your booking. As the name suggests, these are websites that refund you some of the money you spend on a trip, product or service. The way they work is usually through referral fees garnered from the provider, a portion of which is then given to the customer, i.e. you.

Try Topcashback or Quidco and see what deals are currently on offer. Be careful to read the details for each one though, as the discounts and requirements for different sites can vary.