How do discount hotel booking sites work

How do I find the cheapest date to book a specific hotel?

I am looking for a website or a service with which I can find a hotel (or hotels or a specific beach / place) for the cheapest date can browse.

Most websites want you to let them know when you plan to visit. I WANT that the website tells me when to visit based on the best price


For the hotel chains Hilton and IHG this is possible:


For Hilton, this is an official service from their booking site. Select a hotel, a room type and a rate, click on "change dates" and you will arrive here:

Activate the "Use flexible dates" button and you can see the best price and scroll back and forth as often as you like.

Hat tip to Travel Dealz


For booking IHG group hotels (Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, ...) you need a workaround similar to the one for Hostelworld in my other answer.

Go to the booking page again, choose one wide range of data , a hotel, then a room type and then your tariff. Proceed to the next booking step and click on the left under "Your tariff" on "Show tariff description and tariff rules". There you will find the tariff per night:

This is less convenient than it is for Hilton because you have to collect a large amount of data first and then look again to find the data that is convenient for you. Also, make sure that the rate you want is available for all the dates you selected. For example, for IHG the cheaper non-flexible rates are usually only available up to 3 days prior to booking.

Hostelworld has a price breakdown that we can take advantage of with a couple of drawbacks.

When you find the hotel / hostel / spot under the bridge you want to go to on the website, you can specify a travel period ("stay") of up to 15 days. Then choose your seat and go to the place where the price is displayed. You will find the "Show price breakdown" option which gives you the price per night:

For this NYC accommodation, the nights on Sunday and Monday in April 2016 seem to be the cheapest.

The method isn't perfect, here are the catches:

  1. You have to find the place you are looking for on the website. Hostelworld has a decent selection of hotels, but you won't find a Grand Hyatt, sorry.
  2. If you look at prices over an extended period of time, you have to do a lot of searches due to the maximum length of stay of 15 days.
  3. Your desired hotel / room type may not be available on one of the days in the 15 days and will not be displayed.
  4. Some hotels may have a shorter maximum stay and don't provide this list (although I found it displayed).
  5. Your actual length of stay may be different from the 15 day search period and the hotel may have a minimum length of stay.

You will have difficulty finding such a page. However, with a little bit of logic, you can predict which data will be the best and then all that's left to do is verify that your assumptions are correct.

Here are the factors that affect hotel rates / frequency levels:

  • School holidays
  • big meeting or event in town
  • Holidays besides a weekend
  • best weather period

So the lowest rate is in bad weather outside school and public holidays during a week when there are no major events in the city.

Usually Sunday night is the lowest price night.

Sites like Kayak allow you to set up notifications that send you daily email notifications of the prices for a flight or hotel.

So a little digging shows that this is not a new question.

It was asked in several places on the Internet.

A notable example is a site called MightyTravels that makes an interesting claim in an article about this exact problem at the bottom:

Did you know that Mighty Travels Premium lets you search for promotional prices or savings compared to average price for 365 days? We cover 20,000 different objects.

However, there is no reference to this feature on their page about their premium service. Hence, the above quote is likely either a lie or a feature that is no longer offered.

I can find various people claiming that Kayak offers (or at least has offered) this functionality. However, I can't find it now. TripAdvisor SuperSearch's Google description claims to offer this, but again there is no evidence of it on the actual website.

However, I found two current metasearch options:

  • Hotels Combined - There is a checkbox on the search page that says "I don't have exact dates yet". If you do a search like this it seems to work, as it brings up a list of hotels with the cheapest rates for one night. However, click through to find the actual data that is being offered. Instead, you will see prices for the last dates you searched with (or the default dates if you didn't).
  • doesn't specifically offer this, but tries (sometimes?) To help you by suggesting other dates with cheaper rates available. The box sometimes appears in the sidebar, sometimes at the top and looks like this:

In addition to the IHG and Hilton options offered above, the Marriott chain is likely to offer the best option. Go to their site, enter a location (approximate), click the date field, and then click flexible dates when the field appears. Enter the number of days (doesn't seem to offer any flexibility there) then select an individual hotel. You get a month-long overview of the prices for stays that start on any date and can easily go forward or back a month.

For a limited number of cases, there is an easy way to do this. If your travel destination is a popular tourist destination, contact a stationary travel agent and get a brochure for your vacation in the region. Most have a pricing table for the same vacation in different weeks or months. This tells you what the cheap months are.

If that's not what you want, you can do the same with a website by entering a stay that might interest you for a few weeks and then postponing the dates by four weeks, then another four weeks and so on. Make sure you don't hit popular vacation dates.

This works because prices don't change much from week to week. February may be cheaper than May, but the second week of February is not much different from the third week of February. Even if you can find the cheapest month to stay at a hotel, other hotels nearby are likely to be cheapest in the same month.

For popular travel destinations, a travel agent is likely to know this information.

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