HOTEL

The best day to check in

Let’s cut to the chase. Sunday nights provide the cheapest rates in hotels. Weekenders and other holiday makers usually depart on Sunday mornings and businesspeople don’t check in until Monday.

That leaves Sunday as your sweet spot, with rates up to 30 per cent lower than other days. As an added bonus, you won’t be competing for restaurant tables or spots by the swimming pool.

Most travellers recognise that hotel rates fluctuate with the tourist season or school holidays, but few take the day of the week into account. However, if you’re after a short getaway or staycation and have the flexibility, it pays to stay on certain days.

According to US-based travel aggregator Kayak after an analysis of 2021 data, the cheapest check-in days internationally are Sunday and Tuesday. No surprise that the most expensive days are Friday and Saturday.

That works well for three-day stays. If you can, check in on Sunday and depart on Wednesday morning for the lowest rates.

This rule of thumb applies best to tourist hotels and resorts. In city hotels with a big business clientele you can snag a bargain on Friday and Saturday nights. Check hotel websites: amenities such as a conference centre are clear signs of a business hotel. Who needs a pool if you can save several hundred dollars?

It doesn’t only matter what day you stay, but also on which day you book your hotel room. You’ll get lower rates by booking towards the end of the week, when significantly fewer people bother with hotel searches.

In 2019 an Expedia Group study of 895,000 hotel bookings found rates were lowest for bookings made on Fridays. Generally speaking, hotel prices peak if booked between Monday and Wednesday.

It doesn’t pay to be organised. Another study, this time by Tripadvisor, shows travellers habitually book international hotel nights between four and six weeks in advance. Thanks to the wonders of market forces that is, not coincidentally, when rates are highest. Prices fall substantially within seven days of the arrival date.

Other studies produce similar. Hotels booked two weeks before arrival are eight per cent cheaper on average, and within a week 21 per cent cheaper according to number-crunching by Skyscanner.

This was a study of hotels in the US, but even its look at international hotels saw savings of 12 per cent when booked in the last week. Skyscanner say between eight and 19 weeks out is the worst time to book internationally.

If you aren’t concerned about staying at a particular hotel, then booking two or three days in advance can yield even greater bargains. This is because many hotels have cancellation policies within 48 hours and find themselves with last-minute rooms to fill.

Best prices of all? After 4pm on the day of arrival for those who can hold their nerve, but check local holidays and events, which can book out entire cities and leave you sleeping on a station bench.

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