Buying 4 Star Hotel Rooms in Europe CHEAPLY!
Hotel rooms are expensive and the Euro is clobbering the dollar, so how do I go to Europe and get cheap rooms? Since I just got back from several cities in Germany and a final day in Amsterdam, I’ll tell you my great room/cheap price secrets. My business trip (in search of a new service center for NewLeads in Europe) included two nights in Munich in the midst of Oktoberfest, so rooms were expensive and scarce. My secret for getting cheap rooms everywhere? Captain Kirk!, aka Name Your Own Price on Priceline.com. With the exception of one lousy room in Vienna, Austria a year ago, I have had incredible success using this method for the past four years. I have stayed at the JW Marriott/Union Square in San Francisco for $100 a night, the Hilton in Times Square for $100, the Marriott in North Munich (by the Englisher Garten) for $60, a 5 star hotel in Frankfurt for $125, and several 4 star hotels by the San Diego Convention Center for $85 to $100. Most of my friends are afraid to do try this method, making excuses like “I need to know the name of the hotel before I buy my room” or “What if I change my mind?”
Listen, t (http://newleads NULL.typepad NULL.com/ NULL.a/6a0133f40c468c970b013488040870970c-pi)his is not for wimps, but if you’re a trade show manager or serious traveler, you are not a wimp, so keep reading. First off, I only stay in four star or five star hotels, especially in Europe, where star ratings are not as accurate as they are here in the States. Second, I have three email addresses (three accounts) listed with Priceline. Third, I first look at prices on-line to see what the rates are before I go to the “name your own price” section.
In the “name your own price” scenario, you can choose an area, which is highlighted on a map (location, location, location!). I picked the green area on the right for an area in North Munich so I could jog in the Englisher Garten (enormous park). When I pick an area, it typically shows that the best deals are 4 star hotels. It will show the average price for a four star hotel in the area, which I ignore. I’ll simply bid between $90 and $100 (less than half the average retail price) and see what happens. If I get rejected, I can add another decent location on which to bid, keep my price, and see what happens. If I get rejected again but don’t want to choose yet another area or downgrade to a 3 star hotel to include in the bid, I log out and then log back in with one of my other accounts (otherwise, I have to wait 24 hours). Then, I choose my area again and simply bid $10 more a night. The trip I just completed was two nights in Frankfurt (4 star hotel for $80, a short walk from the train station), a night in Stuttgart ($90 for a 4 star), two nights in Munich during Oktoberfest (Marriott for $200–they were retailing at $400) and a night in Amsterdam (5 star for $1 (http://newleads NULL.typepad NULL.com/ NULL.a/6a0133f40c468c970b0133f4e4516c970b-pi)20)–all of it on Priceline.com.
By the way, the prices have small fees and taxes on top, but it never amounts to much. In the most expensive cities, saving money on the room gives me more breathing room for great dining and other opportunities. I usually buy these rooms a few weeks before travel, but if you can wait until the last minute, that’s when the excess inventory gets dumped for even less. An excess inventory manager for a major hotel chain told me that she will dump her 4 star rooms a day or two prior for just $60, and she told me she dumps most of them on HotWire. On that site, you don’t have to bid, but you don’t get a great price unless it is the day or two before. I’m not quite that “last minute”, so HotWire is not my “go-to” for hotels. But Priceline? Give it a try; Captain Kirk has found the Final Frontier!
I think my next post will be how you can make your own coffee macchiato, so get yourself some whole milk or half and half and get ready! Safe travels and Godspeed to you–John