Here's breaking news about cheap hotels. More tips here.

I prefer to skip hotels when I can and just sleep in my car (I did that on my drive from LA to Vancouver and back in August/September 2001). I slept in my car in Yosemite for two nights in May 2007.

Here are some tips on finding a cheap hotel:

  • Price comparison websites such as SideStep, Yahoo! Farechase and Kayak will check multiple websites, including hotel consolidators and booking services, for hotel room prices. They will then tell you the lowest price found.
  1. Go to the websites SideStep, Yahoo! Farechase or Kayak.
  2. Input the name of the city and your dates of travel into the appropriate fields.
  3. Click on "Search".
  4. Note the lowest price you have found for the hotel(s) you are interested in, as well as the name of the website offering that price.

These hotels have lowest rate guarantees:

Here's a report on finding cheap hotels:

The days of showing up at a hotel and paying whatever price is posted are over simply because it is so easy to find cheap and discounted hotel rates online. Some people still call up a hotel to make a hotel reservations and pay whatever the rate is, however people are wising up to the many cheap hotel rates to be found online and since saving money is always a motivating factor many people are shopping and booking online and as a result are receiving cheap hotel rates for the same room in the same hotel for the same dates. What you may not know is there are many websites online that focus solely on providing you with discount hotels, flights, care rentals and the like. So, finding cheap hotel rates is as simple as searching online. To find cheap hotel rates you first need to get on the Internet. Once there, you should go to a search engine to search for cheap hotel rates. Be specific when using the search engine, however, because you will want to find as much specific information on cheap hotel rates as possible while weeding out other information. Keep in mind as well that if you do not find the cheap hotel rates you are looking for on one search engine you can always try another.

Here are some tips about booking a hotel online:

Though it may sound enticing, online hotel booking has its own set of challenges. An online discount hotel booking web site should provide the following basic things:

  • Offer real time hotel room booking

  • Allow date amendments and cancellations online

  • Rates should clearly indicate what currency is being quoted, whether the rate is per person or per room, and what is and what is not included in the rate, and, if taxes are not included, how much they will be

  • The location information of the hotel should be listed on the hotel description page. This can help identify the distance from the hotel to certain landmarks or the airport

  • All the information regarding the hotel (such as facilities and rates) should be located on each hotel's web page

  • Pictures of the hotel

  • Star quality rating, consumer ratings with consumer reviews

  • Does the online hotel booking site have a membership program (like http://www.ratestogo.com/membership) that offers reward points and privileges

Checklist before and after you book a hotel room online

If you follow this checklist, you're less likely to have nasty surprises in store for you:

Hugh Goble offers tips on finding cheap hotels:

Start by talking to friends or business associates who have recently travelled to the area. They may have good suggestions for you, especially if you believe that their budget was similar to what you're prepared to spend. They may not have stayed at cheap hotels but they can probably give excellent advice about where you may try. In larger cities they'll almost certainly be able to guide you as to suitable areas in which to find cheap hotels . It’s important to understand that the costs of hotel accommodation can vary by the time of year that you plan to travel, and even by the days of the week that you'll be staying. A winter trip to a popular summer destination will be much cheaper than if you made the same trip during the summer months and vice versa. Weekend trips can often be more expensive than weekday trips to the same hotel as well. Where possible try to book your vacation trips during the week, and at the very beginning of the season that the area is particularly known for. Depending on what you plan on doing on your trip, you may want to visit the area completely off season to make sure that you get the best rates possible.

Joe Duchesne offers this advice about seeking cheap hotels on the net:

The most basic hotel search you could do would be to enter your destination along with either the keyword hotel or motel. So if you are going to Orlando, Florida, you\'d enter a search like \'Orlando Florida Hotel\'. This kind of search will give you a list of websites that either are hotels or are listing hotels worth checking out. When making a search, it is important to be creative with your keyword selections. Instead of simply typing in something like \'Orlando Florida Hotel\', you will want to try other combinations. One good way to get a quality list of hotels is to type in the name of some of the attractions you plan on visiting in the city you\'ve chosen. To continue with our example of Orlando, you could use \'Universal Studios Orlando Hotel\'. This will help you to find listings that are near Universal Studios. Don\'t be afraid of using Hotel directories to help you scope out a good potential match. For our example city, using an Orlando hotel directory could yield just the right hotel for your needs. Many of these directories include either reviews and maps on their site or easy to find links to these kinds of resources.

Lee Smith suggests alternatives to cheap hotels:

Hostels have long been the “dirty” word in the hotel and travel industry, but times are certainly changing for the better as the public realise more and more that hostels and youth hostels are a viable means of accommodation when they travel around the globe. Despite their low price and somewhat bad reputation, many hostels are of a high standard and have great facilities for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy. The budget travel sector, such as backpackers, gap year travelers and also families wanting multi-location holidays, has boomed in the last few years and is driven to a large extent by word-of-mouth recommendation. With competition in the industry “hotting up” and with millions of customers each and every year choosing cheaper, cost-effective accommodation, the standard and reputation of these places are ever-increasing.

Mark Kahler lists alternatives to staying in cheap hotels:

Hotel rooms abroad are often much smaller than in North America. Therefore, many families are forced to book two rooms, and that gets very expensive. In many places, renting an apartment actually can be a better deal, especially for stays of more than a few days.

The London Connection offers flats (apartments) in a wide range of neighborhoods starting at about $218 USD/night.

That amount might make budgeteers cringe. But large families can easily spend that amount to get one spartan hotel room in London, let alone two rooms. In a flat, you can set up housekeeping, saving money by cooking breakfast, lunch, and even dinner if money is tight. By the way, the name of this service is a bit misleading, because they operate in Paris and Australia as well as London.

Need something cheaper? Studios 92 represents flat and room rentals in England, France and Greece. I found a flat in central London during a recent search for £70 ($140 USD) per night for a group of four travelers.

VeniceRentals is based in Quincy, Mass. and offers one, two and three bedroom apartments in one of Italy's most expensive cities. On this Web site, you email them your dates and budget parameters. They promise an answer within a few hours.

Rome bound? A similar service exists for the Eternal City.

If this idea appeals to you, I must express two warnings: deal only with bonded companies or services when reserving on-line, and be skeptical about rates that seem too good to be true.

Many of these owners will require a minimum stay, sometimes as long as a week. Since budget travelers often use one city as a base to explore a region, this can work to your advantage if you cut a good deal.

Want to stay in an apartment without paying cash? Consider a home swap. This can work well for longer stays, but obviously requires a great deal of caution. Use an agency to screen potential swap-mates and be sure the deal works for you before you sign on the dotted line.

The Times of London reports Jan. 3, 2008:

Dozens of youth hostels have been granted 24-hour licences to sell alcohol, despite protests from local residents who fear that their peace is about to be shattered. The Youth Hostel Association has taken advantage of the new liberal licensing laws to get permission to sell alcohol around the clock in 118 of its hostels in some of the most scenic parts of England and Wales. It is trying to diversify its clientele away from early-to-bed hikers and penniless students to young professionals who can now hire out entire hostels for parties and receptions.

The association submitted a blanket application for its hostels, and over the past month almost all have been granted, to the fury of many people who live near by. It was disclosed by The Times yesterday that Gordon Brown is to keep the 24-hour licensing laws in place despite controversy over their impact on binge drinking and alcohol-related violence. Government sources confirmed that 24-hour drinking would stay but signalled that there would be a tightening of the rules and further powers to restrict all-night licences of rowdy premises. A review into the operation of the Licencing Act, which came into effect in 2005, is due to be published at the end of this month.

John Ready, 61, an architect from Saffron Walden, Essex, who opposed the 24-hour licence for the hostel in the medieval market town, said it was a shame that youth hostels were being turned into “cheap hotels”.

Nancy E Ben writes:

As a holiday destination, Germany can be visited through out the year. But most generally during the months of May and September, Germany receives maximum tourists and visitors. During this is the time of the year, Germany basks in the balmy rays of sun and is in full vigor of life. One of the best of the best places to hit in Germany, are its exquisite Beer Gardens and coffee bars where you may cozily sit back and relax. What makes the ambience of the region all-the-more peppy are the f regional fairs and festivals. If you are an adventure freak then there is ample opportunity for you to indulge in cycling, hiking, swimming and trekking among others. All this and much more throughout the summers but on the flipside, the place may also be crowded which might just get on your nerves. But if you are looking for some space to yourself then the ideal time to hit Germany is during winter season. During winters rather than opting for Cheap Hotels in Germany you will find good enough accommodation at much cheaper rates.

Here's more on alternatives to cheap hotels:

Serviced apartments are fast becoming the preferred accommodation choice for many business travellers. The concept of serviced apartments has developed in the UK in recent years following the lead of countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the United States. These apartments, often confused with suites, are generally found in prime city centre locations. Guests enjoy the space and freedom serviced apartments offer. Typically, in addition to your bedroom you will have your own private lounge, fully-fitted kitchen and of course bathroom. There’s space to relax on your own, entertain colleagues or even get some work done. There are advantages of staying in a serviced apartment too when it comes to dining – fully-fitted kitchens offer an alternative to eating alone in restaurants and are ideal where a guest has special dietary needs. There’s more flexibility too – as breakfast can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own private lounge with no need to rush to meet the deadline for breakfast!

Scott Grueson writes:

The key to enjoying an affordable vacation is to finding inexpensive hotels to stay in. This is because accommodation costs are a significant chunk of the total vacation expenditure and by staying in a cheap hotel vacationers can afford to experience more of what a holiday destination has to offer. Families planning a vacation need to keep their eyes open for the best hotel deals on offer. The Internet is a great resource for finding cheap hotels that offer good food and lodging. One can compare services offered across hotels for a given rate; this knowledge helps while negotiating for accommodation. Hotels can also be compared for nearness from the airports, railway stations, and tourist attractions. It is important to look up hotels on more than one site that list comparisons. This is because not all hotels in an area may be listed on a site. Hotels also list discount deals and vacation deals on their own websites, subscribing to hotel newsletters is another option that helps to keep abreast of rate changes.

Erica Johnson writes:

You are planning a holiday abroad for your family, and want everyone to have a good time. You surf the internet for hotel descriptions, but from the pictures that you see and what you read, all hotels project a perfect image of themselves. How can you tell which ones are better? You have never been there and know no one at your destination. At the same time, you don’t want a hotel room that will bust your budget. How do you choose? Check Independent Hotel Ratings Well, the first step you can take is to visit hotel search engines for guest ratings for hotels represented by the search engines. In addition to pre-negotiated rates with individual hotels, most agents ask for ratings and comments from previous guests. Reading their comments will give you a fair idea on what to expect from the hotels located in your destination. Be sure to read a few comments in order to get a fair overview. Certain incidences described may only be rare occurrences that may already have been corrected.

Jeff Lakie tells you what to consider before booking a hotel:

The cheapest hotels are not always the best option for the budget-conscious person. In fact, cheap hotels have become a joke, they can be so bad! Motels are an okay option for the budget conscious person but if you have a family, a hotel may offer you more convenience and choice for your children. For example, in a hotel you might find a restaurant and pool for the kids and a bar for the adults, which you would rarely find a motel. The difference in price is not huge so choosing a hotel for those family friendly amenities make the few extra dollars worthwhile.

Close to where you want to be? People who choose to stay at a hotel often find that the closer a hotel is to the downtown, the more expensive the hotel is. If your destination is downtown, you do not have to choose a hotel that is close by, but you should find one that is conveniently located. For example, if you have a business meeting to attend downtown, you don't want to choose the cheapest hotel which is so far away from downtown that you'll be fighting traffic and searching endlessly for a parking space. But you also don\'t want to spend an arm and a leg for a hotel that is too close to downtown. Instead, settle on one that is a few minutes out of the downtown core but not too far away.

Paul Wilson offers ten tips for finding a cheap hotel:

6. Ask about weekend rates. Often hotels that cater to business travelers have great rates on what they consider off season, weekends. 7. If you plan your trip well in advance you could get a discount of 50% or more during off season. 8. Some hotels have special rates for members of AAA, American Automobile Association and other professional bodies or clubs. Call the hotel of your choice and ask them if they do have such schemes. 9. If you are traveling in a group ask about group rates or family rates. Most hotels have different options for multiple bookings. Some even offer a day or two additional stay at no extra cost. 10. When you leave the airport or railway station or just drive in to a town stop at a gas station and find out if they have hotel coupon booklets. These many a time have great offers for visitors.

Betsy Malloy writes:

You've seen the ads. Get a cheap San Diego hotel by bidding online, they say. Skeptical? You're not alone. So was I, until I reserved a four-star San Francisco hotel for just $70. It worked several times, and now I won't leave home without it.

Here's how cheap a San Diego hotel can get: In early August, 2004, you could stay at 4-star Hyatt Regency La Jolla ($289 and up) for $73 a night and 3-star Hilton del Mar (starts at $179) for $70. If you want to find a cheap,nice San Diego hotel, we've simplified the process.

Seven Steps to Find a Cheap San Diego Hotel

You'll use Priceline to find your cheap San Diego hotel, using biddingfortravel.com for research. After doing steps 1-2 below, you can do steps 3-5 yourself or get help. Just register at biddingfortravel, do the research to fill out an Bidding Assistance Form and post your request.

Someone will respond with a strategy. Our do-it-youself process is quicker, but you may get a slightly lower rate with help. Pick Areas

Go to Priceline, click Hotels and select San Diego. Enter any date (you just want to see the map on the next page). Pick the area(s) you want to stay in. Write them down.

Most convenient: Downtown, Mission Valley
Most upscale: San Diego Coastal (includes La Jolla), Coronado
Cheap: Miramar , Carlsbad

Samantha Gross writes:

NEW YORK - While planning her holiday to New York, Lisa Werness was so horrified by the prices in Manhattan that she chose cheaper lodging in Brooklyn - where she got a room rate of just $US400 ($A457) a night. "Don't remind me. I'm trying to forget about it," she said. In a city where residents often pay more than half their salaries for a place to sleep, visitors have long faced a shortage of hotel rooms and rising prices. Now, with 8,500 hotel rooms under construction in the city - a growth of more than 10 per cent - that crunch could ease slightly in the coming months. By comparison, it took from 1998 to 2007 to make a leap of the same size.

Even the current influx of new rooms is unlikely to glut the market and knock down prices, Hennessey said, although he noted that an economic downturn could lead companies to cut back on business travel, which could lead to cheaper rates. As of October, New York had 59 hotels under construction - more than any of the 26 other US cities with the largest number of hotel rooms, according to Smith Travel Research.

While properties already under construction are unlikely to be called off, the mortgage crunch has some in the industry wondering if future projects might be slowed by the rising price of financing. Either way, it seems unlikely that a city with such high real estate prices will soon be offering truly cheap hotel rooms.

I always hope that my cheap hotel does not end up like the 2005 movie "Hostel."

Here's a description from imdb.com: "Three backpackers are in Amsterdam where they get locked out of their youth hostel. They are invited into a man's house where he tells them of a hostel somewhere in eastern Europe where the women are all incredibly hot and have a taste for American men. When they get there, everything is too good to be true - the hostel is "to die for.""

Here's a review from imdb.com:

As a rule, I find horror films a little tiresome, but Hostel starts with a great premise and slowly builds up to some outrageous horror. The film tips its hat to some of the classics, and there's even a delightful cameo of Pulp Fiction playing in the background. It's not good that the premise of the movie is revealed in the IMDb listing as you don't learn the truth until near the end of the movie and it all starts to make a lot more sense. One thing about horror films which has always bugged me is that the bad guys never seem real to me, as if they are some kind of limitless satanic evil or whatever. In Hostel, by contrast, we really believe that the scenario is very plausible and for that, all the more frightening. I wouldn't be surprised at all if this kind of thing goes on in certain parts of the world. As far as maximum creep value, I saw it in a packed house at a screening in Beverly Hills last night, and many in the audience couldn't take it and ran out -- one guy was retching in the bathroom and was too scared to leave! The organizer had to talk him down and call one of his friends to take him home. The director was there for a Q&A which will be on the Creative Screen writing Magazine podcast, and he said that at one test screening they had to call a ambulances for two different people. It appears that the explicit sex, torture and violence will not be toned down for the theatrical release and it will still have an R rating instead of NC-17 which most of us thought it deserved. The trick, is that there is no sex during the violent scenes, and no violence in the sex scenes, which makes the MPAA more comfortable. By the way, this was shot near Prague, and is amazingly beautiful to look at -- I was there a month ago and the place is like something out of a fairy tale (unlike most historic European areas, there isn't a McDonalds every hundred feet). The ending is very, very satisfying yet believable and unforced. The audience was screaming, gasping, cheering, and hiding their faces at all the right moments. Eli's interview was a hoot, also, so check out the podcast once they post it on itunes. It's worth it for no other reason than to hear his anti-Union rant!