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A handy cheat sheet for booking hotels

Aarthi Swaminathan
Finance Writer

Booking hotels requires a certain level of skill — and KAYAK (parent company: BKNG) knows the pain. In a new study, the travel platform provides hotel tips for saving more.

With 56% of Americans preferring to stay in a hotel rather than a vacation rental like Airbnb, KAYAK compiled all the searches for hotels made on its U.S. website and derived a few key trends for its inaugural Hotel Travel Study.

(Photo: Yahoo Finance)

The data covers searches made by users on the KAYAK site from June 2016 to December 2017 for hotels, while the travel-related data was from January 2016 to December 2017.

Here are some highlights:

Last-minute is good

If you and the people you travel with have the patience, waiting until the last minute to book a hotel will pay off. KAYAK says that booking your hotels just 1 to 3 days in advance could save you between $15 to $20 per night.

Weekends are cheaper

You can also save by searching for hotels during off-peak hours — which are Fridays through Saturdays. Off-peak simply means less competition — KAYAK said that during that time of the week searches for hotels and prices start to decrease as many as 30% fewer people are searching.

A view of a hotel on Tulamben beach on the Island of Bali, Indonesia (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Off-peak = $$$ saved

If you’re not required to stick to a specific arrival date for the trip consider checking in on a Sunday — the cheapest day of the week — versus a Friday or Saturday check-in. KAYAK said that a Sunday check-in is the cheapest, with Monday and Tuesday being the next best options.

4 weeks ahead for overseas travel

While KAYAK said that booking last-minute can save you some money, if you’re going overseas, it’s better to book in advance. Especially if you’re traveling internationally for more than 2 weeks try to book your flights 4 weeks in advance. KAYAK says that the forward planning can save you up to $21 per night.

Plan for a late August trip

During the summer the median airfare for weekends — between Friday to Sunday — is $441. KAYAK suggests that you save your vacation days for the end of August or even early September, when both hotel and airfare prices are lower, especially if it’s a domestic flight. Here are are some weekends that you should consider as the summer crawls to a close.

  • August 25: median airfare of $305
  • September 8: median airfare of $311
  • September 1: median airfare of $312


Hula dancers tell their stories through graceful moves at a traditional hula and feast, the Old Lahaina Luau, in Maui. (AP Photo/Jennifer McDermott)

Most expensive hotels

KAYAK also looked at the most expensive hotels in the U.S. — and beyond — and found that a lot of the median hotel rates in these cities are likely to exceed the average person’s budget.

The company found that 72% of Americans spend $222 a night or less on hotel rooms. So if you’re planning to visit any of these cities — be prepared to spend big bucks.

American cities

  • Maui, Hawaii: median hotel rates are $540/might
  • Napa Valley, California: median hotel rates are $349/night
  • Vail, Colorado: median hotel rates are $347/night
  • Key West, Florida: median hotel rates are $326/night
  • Honolulu, Hawaii: median hotel rates are $283/night

International cities

  • Providenciales, Turks & Caicos: median hotel rates are $550/night
  • Hamilton, Bermuda: median hotel rates are $450/night
  • Nassau, Bahamas: median hotel rates are $433/night
  • Montego Bay, Jamaica: median hotel rates are $363/night
  • Tulum, Mexico: median hotel rates are $329/night

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