Last Updated on May 28, 2024 by Elizabeth

Nobody likes to learn that they are paying more than necessary for a hotel. The truth is, not every guest at the hotel pays the same rate for the same room category. That can depend on a variety of factors, including how and when you booked. To be sure that you’re paying the lowest possible rate, you must first understand how to comparison shop properly. Here’s how to find out if you are paying the cheapest hotel rate—and make sure that rate will still be the cheapest at check-in.

How to Comparison Shop for a Cheap Hotel Rate

When searching online—on the hotel’s own website or a major booking site—the rate you see is never what you’re going to end up paying. That’s because these websites display the base hotel rate before taxes and fees. And, as any seasoned traveler knows, the taxes and fees can often add more than 25% to your costs.

To get the true picture of what you’ll actually pay, you must travel down the sales funnel to the point just before you book the room and secure the reservation.

Case Study: Finding a Cheap Hotel Rate in Las Vegas

We recently received an email from a customer who had done his homework. Joseph T. of North Waltham, Massachusetts was planning a three-night trip to Vegas in the third week of June. He was looking for something upscale on the Las Vegas Strip. He decided to go with a name he’d heard of: Caesars Palace.

Then Joseph did a Google search to check prices. He noticed that, with one exception, most booking sites showed the same price within a few dollars of each other.

Next, Joseph began the booking process. He clicked on the lowest price he’d seen, $309 a night, and saw that it was actually $310 a night for a Julius Deluxe Room with a king-size bed. Three nights at that room rate came to $928. But that’s not the price Joseph would actually pay. The fine print noted an additional $124.09 in taxes and fees. Plus there was a whopping $312.84 in additional fees payable at the resort. The grand total for his three-night stay would be $1,364.32.

On another popular site, it took Joseph four clicks into the booking process to see all the fees and taxes. On that site, he eventually learned that his total spend would be $1,344.63.

Next, Joseph asked HotelSlash for a quote for Caesars Palace for the same three-night stay. His email returned a quote of $1,145.09 with a notation that he’d pay another $169.89 in fees at the property. Joseph booked through HotelSlash, where his grand total spend came to $1314.98. That’s roughly $50 less than booking with the website that initially appeared to offer the lowest price. And it’s $30 less than booking with a major online travel agency.

Importantly, Joseph liked that HotelSlash would track his reservation and alert him if there was a price drop. If HotelSlash finds a better deal before Joseph checks in to Caesars Palace, we’ll shoot him an email so he can re-book and pay even less.

Golden Rules for Finding the Cheapest Hotel Rate

There are two big takeaways. First, to get a true price comparison for your hotel stay, you must compare apples to apples. When you visit most booking platforms, that means going beyond the topline price that is displayed. You need to see all taxes and fees, including any hidden fees payable at the hotel or resort.

Here at HotelSlash, we’re committed to being as transparent as possible.

Future Price Protection to Get the Cheapest Hotel Rate

The second takeaway is that prices are not stagnant. Not only does HotelSlash offer travelers members-only, discounted rates, we also offer price protection.

Just like car rental prices, hotel rates go up and down. You want to ensure that you’ve still got the best deal tomorrow, or next week, or the day before you check into your hotel.

Not only will HotelSlash find you the lowest rate at the time you book, but we keep re-pricing your reservation daily to ensure that you don’t leave any money on the table. If we find a better deal, or possibly an upgraded room or amenities, we’ll alert you by email so you can re-book and save even more. It’s like price protection for your hotel booking.