On a trip, where you stay is just as important as how you get there. Knowing when to book or which days you should check in and out is essential for being confident you got the best price on your room. To help you figure it out, we dug into our data to put together our first-ever hotel study.
While vacation rentals are a great option for any trip, 56% of Americans still prefer to stay in a hotel. And the room they’re looking for should come with free Wifi, breakfast and a swimming pool (at least, those are our most-used hotel search filters). However, Americans are also looking for a stay that’s budget-friendly. Most will spend between $112-222/night or less on their room — while a select few are willing to spend even more. Knowing that your day-to-day costs can be the biggest part of your travel budget, we’ve rounded up several tips on when to book to get the best price on your hotel.
How to save on your room
- It may pay to procrastinate. Unlike with flights, those who wait until the last minute to book can often score a great deal on a hotel room. We found that booking your hotel 1-3 days in advance of your stay can save you between $15-20 per night when you’re staying somewhere in the US. For international trips, booking as little as 6 days ahead for a shorter stay can help you save around $6/night. (Disclaimer: if you’re going to a popular city or for an event that might cause an unusually high booking rate, best find a hotel early-on that’s within your budget).
- Search and book your hotel on a weekend. Our data shows that hotel prices are at their peak Monday through Wednesday, for both domestic and international destinations. As you approach the weekend, we see these prices start to decrease. Your best bet then is to book on Fridays and Saturdays.
- Make it a Sunday Funday. No surprise that weekends are popular for travel. Gotta get in that pool time before it’s back to fluorescent lighting and chit-chat about Shirley’s cat around the water cooler. Checking in on a Friday or Saturday and checking out on a Sunday is the most expensive option for your stay. So if you have a bit of flexibility with your dates, consider checking in on a Sunday (when hotel prices are at their lowest) instead of checking out that day (when they’re at their highest).
With these points in mind, here’s our best advice on when to book your hotel.
Our tips will help you create a good foundation for getting the best price possible when you search. But for those who aren’t really concerned about how to save on their hotel and would rather go all-out, a) please, teach us how to be you and b) here are the cities with the most expensive hotel prices.
Most Expensive Hotel Cities in the US
- Maui, Hawaii. Sun. Surf. Poke. The only things not to love about Maui are the hotel prices. With a median hotel rate of $540/night, Maui is home to some of the most luxurious five star hotels in the US. And that luxury comes at a price.
- Napa Valley, California. Miles and miles of wineries and vineyards make Napa an oenophile’s perfect paradise. And like a 2010 Rothschild, if you want to experience it, you have to be willing to pay for it. It’s no surprise that median hotel rates will run you about $349/night in the valley.
- Vail, Colorado. Dubbed as one of the most expensive ski destinations in the US, Vail lures a luxury crowd. You can join them if you’re willing to cough up around $347/night for your hotel.
- Key West, Florida. Hemingway’s home has perfect weather year-round. Which is also likely why there’s a constant supply of travelers ready to fill up their limited hotel rooms. Expect to shell out around $326/night if you head to the Keys.
- Honolulu, Hawaii. Everything has its price, even paradise. Despite added flight routes that are making travel to Hawaii more accessible and more affordable, median hotel rates still hover around $283/night.
Most Expensive International Hotel Cities
- Providenciales, Turks & Caicos. Pro: you’ll be close to some of the best coral reefs in the Atlantic to explore. Con: because you can’t pay in seashells, hotels will run you around $550/night.
- Hamilton, Bermuda. Though being close to travelers from the East Coast, this pink-sand paradise provides an accessible escape. However, expect to pay around $450/night for your slice of island life.
- Nassau, Bahamas. While you can certainly bring the fam to this vacation spot, you may want to consider staying in one room. Median hotel prices hover around $433/night, making it one of the most expensive islands in the Caribbean.
- Montego Bay, Jamaica. From zip-lining and scuba diving to its beautiful beaches and nightlife, Montego Bay has something for everyone — including luxury travelers. And, with the recent additions of new high-end resorts, median hotel rates run about $363/night.
- Tulum, Mexico. Feels like everyone on your IG feed is traveling to Tulum? Us too. It benefits from reasonable airfare and a favorable exchange rate, which tend to make Mexico an affordable destination. However, even though Tulum’s got a strip of boutique hotels with bohemian vibes, the prices for staying there aren’t exactly lax. Expect to pay about $329/night for your room.
And in order to be sure you’re getting the hotel you want (no matter how much you’re willing to spend) we’ve created powerful filters that’ll narrow down all your options to the perfect one. Out of the many you can choose from, these are the most popular filters used on KAYAK.
Whatever your plans are for your next stay, we’ll search hundreds of travel and hotel sites at once. So you can be confident you found the best price on the perfect hotel.
For when to book data: Hotel search data is based on searches on the KAYAK US site, between 06.01.16 – 12.31.17 and 06.01.15 – 12.31.16, for travel between 01.01.17 – 12.31.17 and 01.01.16 – 12.31.16. Price data is based on the price per night for a double room in three and four-star hotels. Prices are subject to change, may vary, or may no longer be available.
For most expensive hotels: Hotel search data is based on searches on the KAYAK US site, between 06.01.16 – 12.31.17 and 06.01.15 – 12.31.16, for travel between 01.01.17 – 12.31.17 and 01.01.16 – 12.31.16. Price data is based on the price per night for a double room in three and four-star hotels. Prices are subject to change, may vary, or may no longer be available.