According to the latest hotel price index from Hotels.com, in 2015 Australians paid more for their hotel rooms in 70 per cent of their 100 favourite destinations around the globe over the previous year. Biggest increase was in both Orlando, Florida, and Shanghai, where we paid an average of 26 per cent more for a hotel room than in 2014. Even in New Zealand, the number one destination for Australian residents, a hotel room cost us 6.2 per cent more on average in 2015 than the year before.
How to drive your hotel dollars further? You're probably using a search engine such as Hotels Combined to score a keen deal, but there are plenty more ways to sweeten the package on your next hotel stay.
Stay at new hotels. Whether it's Bali, Brisbane or Baku, newly opened hotels often have discount rates to get their first customers through the door. How to find new hotels, or ones about to open? Simple – Google "new hotels in …", or do the same for a brand such as Marriott or Four Seasons.
Bundle it with an airfare. Book a hotel stay with flights from a travel agent such as Flight Centre and you'll save massively. A three-night stay at a four-star hotel in Melbourne, with return flights from Sydney, can be had for just over $300 per person on a twin-share basis. From Melbourne, seven nights in a four-star hotel on the Gold Coast with return flights starts at less than $600 per person on a twin-share basis.
Book early, or wait until the last minute. Just like airlines, hotels offer the best rates to those who book early. In the case of hotels the magic number is usually 30 days but if it's a popular destination where accommodation is severely limited you might need to book 12 months in advance. Closer to check-in time, supply contracts and the cheap room rates evaporate. If a hotel finds itself with empty rooms close to crunch time the rate will fall once again, and those with steady nerves prepared to play the waiting game can score a bargain. For late-breaking deals try trivago or lastminute.
Book direct with the hotel. Use a search engine to find the best deal then call the hotel to ask if they'll match that price, and what extras they can offer. Their contract with the search engine might prevent the hotel from offering a lower price but they can throw in extras, such as a room upgrade, free internet or the buffet breakfast. When you call the hotel, rather than asking for the best deal they can offer, ask for the best non-refundable rate.
Location, or dislocation. Prime real estate comes at a premium and hotel prices close to the city centre and major attractions reflect that with higher prices. Stay further from where the action is and you'll pay less for a hotel of similar quality. This is especially so in glamorous parts of Europe where a central hotel will set you back megabucks, but there are usually much cheaper options within easy commuting distance. In Venice you can get a decent room in Mestre, just a short train or bus ride from the city, for under $200 per night even in peak season. A room in the Latin Quarter of Paris or the Marais will put you right where the action is, but a hotel in a discreetly bourgeois suburb such as Neuilly-sur-Seine is cheaper and you're just four Metro stops from the Arc de Triomphe.
Check the midweek/weekend rates. Mid-city hotels and apartment hotels with a strong business clientele are more likely to offer discounts at weekends.
Check what's included in the room rate. Unless it's included in the room rate you're unlikely to get your money's worth out of the hotel buffet breakfast. Conducted in 2015, TripAdvisor's TripIndex Breakfast survey compared the price of a hotel breakfast with the cost of breakfast in a local cafe or restaurant at 37 destinations around the world and concluded that for most destinations, breakfasting outside your hotel is a money saver.
Join the hotel reward programs. They are a classic way to put yourself in the winner's circle, at no additional cost. Hotel reward programs are free to join and in many cases the perks begin as soon as you sign up. Room upgrades for one, free Wi-Fi, early check in and late check out, a more diligent level of personal attention and more points for every dollar spent are some of the sweeteners hotels use to persuade travellers to join their reward program. Earn enough points and you get free nights.
Pay for hotel club membership. Accor Plus costs $349 and you get a complimentary night at an Accor hotel, silver membership status in Le Club Accor Hotels, a discount on the room rate for every stay and discounts on food and beverage. The Accor brand includes Pullman, Sofitel, M Gallery, Ibis, Mercure and Novotel hotels.
Use the right credit card. For example guests who use a World MasterCard to pay for their stay at participating Starwood hotels in the Asia Pacific region qualify for Gold status with Starwood Preferred Guest after just one night's stay, instead of the usual 25 nights. Gold status gives you a swag of perks such as room upgrades, 4pm checkout and more loyalty points for every dollar spent. The Starwood label includes Sheraton, Le Meridien, Four Points, Westin, Aloft, St Regis and W Hotels.
Top 10 destinations where Australians paid most for hotel rooms in 2015, in AUD
Source: Hotel.com Hotel Price Index 2015.