Accommodations are one of the biggest travel expenses out there, sometimes ending up even more costly than transportation. So it’s never a bad idea to maximize your savings when booking a hotel. One way to do that is to book at the right moment. Hotel prices are dynamic, fluctuating based on supply and demand — that means the price you see when you’re searching for hotels one day might change the very next, even if the dates of your stay remain the same. So, when is the best time to book a hotel? Read on to find out.
Related: The Best Time to Book a Flight for Domestic, International, and Summer Travel
When to Book a Hotel to Save Money
Figuring out the best time to book a hotel isn’t an exact science — there’s plenty of variation throughout the industry. But if we’re looking at statistics, the lowest prices for hotel rooms are typically found just 15 days before your stay. Yes, last-minute bookings are (usually) better. A 2022 NerdWallet study analyzed more than 2,500 hotel room rates from 2019 through the first half of 2021 and found an average of 13 percent savings for those who booked 15 days in advance as compared to those who booked four months in advance.
Keep in mind this is just an average and doesn’t take into account busy travel periods, such as the holidays, when you should definitely book in advance. And according to data from the travel app Hopper, the 15-day benchmark is a good one for big business cities, such as New York and Chicago, but it’s not as accurate for vacation destinations like the Caribbean or Hawaii. In those destinations, Hopper notes that hotel rates are usually lowest about two or three months before your trip.
Last-minute Hotel Booking Risks
Last-minute bookings might save you money, but they’re also a little risky. If you wait till just before your trip to book, your preferred hotel — or maybe all hotels in the area — might be sold out. To mitigate this risk, we suggest booking a hotel room with free cancellation as soon as you see a deal that feels reasonable to you, even if it’s several months in advance. After you book, monitor the price of your hotel room regularly. If the price drops, you can cancel your reservation without penalty (double check the fine print before booking!) and rebook at the lower rate. This method requires a little work, but it does ensure you’ll get the best rate at your hotel.
Picking the Right Day or Time to Book a Hotel
Does the time of day or the day of the week matter when it comes to booking a hotel? Nope! That’s mostly a myth. Even though prices do fluctuate regularly, savings from one specific day to the next or one specific hour to the next are negligible. It’s better to look at the bigger picture when figuring out the best time to book a hotel, opting for those prime windows at about two weeks and two to three months before your trip, depending on the destination. And at the end of the day, whenever you find a rate you’re happy with, book it.