Finding Accommodation Bargains

Everyone wants the best value for money on vacation, and as accommodation will be one of your biggest costs, saving even a little money per night can make a big saving overall. There are bargains to be had in hotels in Ireland.

That said, it’s getting harder to find them, especially in Dublin which has a shortage of hotel rooms and leaving a booking to the last minute has become a risky strategy. Outside Dublin or other larger cities there is still some over capacity and many of 4 star hotels are not filling up meaning there are excellent deals to be had. As a result bargain hunters need to adopt a slightly different strategy depending on the area they plan to stay in.

1. Book as Late as Possible for non-city hotels

If you are prepared to live dangerously, leave your booking right to the last minute for hotels outside of Dublin, Cork and Galway.
In fact the danger is quite small, even in high season it is very unlikely that you will find nowhere to lay your head for the night – though you do run a very slight risk of the occasional night in a dump less salubrious hotel. In low season there is very little or no risk involved unless there is a special event or a festival taking place at your destination, so check this first.

2. Call the hotel to book – ALWAYS

If you are really after bargains, this is the best tip there is. The way to approach it is like this:

  • First, research online for the best available price for your required date, only then call the hotel.
  • Find the hotel website and look for a phone number for reservations.
  • Tell the person who deals with reservations about the deal you’ve found, where you found it, and ask if there is anything they can offer to beat that deal.
  • Be prepared to negotiate and remember that a negotiation must have benefit for everyone, so always offer something in return: “We were thinking of staying two nights but if the deal was right we might stay for three” or ask for some variation on the online deal “What price could you do if I have dinner as well as B&B?“. In doing so you are giving the agent a chance to upsell but at a bargain rate for you – win,win.

At the very least this approach will always get the online price matched – after all by selling the room directly to you they don’t have to pay commission to the booking site.  But you’ll often end up if not with a lower price then with an upgraded room or some other extras.

3. Travel Off Season

Not everyone has this option, but it will result in considerable savings. Many of Ireland’s best hotels have bargain breaks available between October and April, which typically comprise 3 nights bed and breakfast with dinner on 2 nights for little more than you would pay for a single night in high season.

If you are travelling off season, do not book accommodation more than a few days in advance unless you absolutely must stay in a particular hotel – there will be lots of last minute availability. There are a number of ways to track down these deals:

  • Browse through hotel websites, bookmark those you like and and check their special offer pages in particular
  • Some hotels advertise deals aimed at the Irish market, not in places visitors are likely to find them. There are some everyday on the back page of the Irish Times newspaper, if you can get hold of a copy do so
  • Ask. Call the hotels and ask have they any package deals for those staying a few nights during the off season. Even where such deals are not on their websites many will be happy to put a package together for you.

4. Upgrade Midweek

This applies all year round but is especially effective off season. If you plan to mix your accommodation, with a few nights in special (ie expensive!) hotels or castles, book those nights midweek when the hotel is less busy.

Again call and ask what their best price is or if there is a cheaper variation of an offer you like available. If you are planning to stay two or three midweek nights this approach will get you some excellent deals.

5. Upgrade at Weekends

In cities and in hotels used mainly by business people the opposite advice applies – the best rates are available at weekends.

6. Use Insider Jargon

If you ask in the right way there are often unexpected bargains available.

  • Ask for the “rep rate” (country hotels) or “corporate rate” (city hotels)
    These are rates offered to business users and sales representatives, who since they stay in hotels frequently and are more likely to result in repeat business for the hotel than a tourist. For this reason they are often quoted better rates.
  • Want dinner in the hotel?
    Ask “Do you have a DBB rate?” DBB is jargon for “Dinner, Bed and Breakfast” and will this rate is usually considerably less than the price of these purchased separately, often little more than the standard B&B rate if you stay more than one night.
  • Leaving Early?
    Irish hotel rates almost always include breakfast. If you are leaving early or do not plan to eat breakfast at the hotel ask for a room-only rate.
  • Ask for an executive upgrade
    Once you are happy with the rate quoted, then, and only then, ask if you can have an executive upgrade to a better room.
  • Celebrating?
    Tell the booking agent if you are travelling on honeymoon or celebrating a special event such as a birthday or anniversary. You will often be given an upgraded room or extra goodies in your room.

7. Be Over 55!

Some of you may have to wait a while for these deals, but many hotels offer special “golden years” prices for over 55’s – ask when you call or email if there are any available. These rates are not always available in July or August, but are widely available and remarkable value at other times.

8. Downgrade!

Many of the better 4 star and all 5 star hotels charge a premium because they have an excellent golf, a signature spa or other leisure facilities. Guests who are touring and staying only one night in a hotel very often have no interest in these extras, but they still pay a premium for the fact that they exist.

There are many excellent three and four star hotels which apart from the lack of such additional facilities are indistinguishable from more expensive ones. If you will not be availing of leisure facilities, find accommodation that has none or few and you will save a pretty penny.

9. Don’t Overlook Hostels

Hostels are not what they used to be. Many now have comfortable double rooms or family rooms with private bathrooms in addition to the dorm accommodation you would expect. And they can be very, very cheap, much less than even a B&B.

Published: January 6, 2009 | Updated: May 30, 2017 | Image Credits

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