Heading to the Algarve (or anywhere in the world for that matter)? Here’s our guide for getting the absolute best deal on a hotel.
Step 1. Find a hotel offering a great deal
The first step is to find a hotel with a great deal. I usually start this process by going to Trivago, as this searches and compares all of the different hotel websites e.g. booking.com, hotels.com, Priceline.com, and Agoda.com, etc.
Simply enter where you want to go (for example: Lisbon or Porto), the dates, and it’ll search all of the major hotel websites to find you the best deals.
Not only will you be able to see which hotels have the best prices, but also which hotel booking sites have the best deals for those hotels during that period.
In the example above, booking with Elvoline.com would mean you could get breakfast for just as extra €2 on the cheapest price which might make it the best deal.
Step 2. Check that hotel’s reviews on TripAdvisor.
So you’ve found a great hotel deal for your date? Before you book anything, be sure to check the reviews on TripAdvisor.
The handy thing about TripAdvisor is that you can search the reviews for specific keywords, depending on what’s important to you. For example, if you want to check how good the Wi-Fi is, or how noisy it is, all you need to do is search those words.
3. Visit the hotel site via your cashback account
Just by using a hotel comparison website like Trivago means you’ve probably already made some saved quite a bit, but there are still more savings to be had thanks to Cashback websites like TopCashback and Quidco.
The next step is to visit the booking website via your cashback account rather than directly.
What’s a cashback website you ask?
When you click a link to a large website (like Expedia) there’s a good chance it’s an affiliate link, meaning the website directing you to Expedia will get a commission. Rather than pocketing it themselves, cashback websites give you that commission back (they make their money in other ways).
Commissions vary depending on the website and industry. Most hotel websites pay between 5% and 10%, while airlines pay closer to 1% if anything at all. Still, it’s money you wouldn’t otherwise be getting so it’s worth clicking through when you visit any participating website.
So, sign up at either at a cashback website and search for the website you want to book with e.g. booking.com, hotels.com, etc. Then click the link to that website and the cashback website will track your visit.
Note: You generally can’t use cashback and a voucher code at the same time. It’s usually a case of one or the other. Go with whichever offers the best discount, the voucher code or the cashback.
Tip: Use Hotels.com if possible
>I try to use hotels.com whenever possible because they have a rewards program that gives you one “reward night” for every ten that you stay.
This means on a two week holiday with an average room costing €60 a night, you’ll have €60 back to spend later and be on your way to collecting that other night. Oh, and the cashback, which would be €109 based on the 13% cashback rate at the time of writing so €169 in savings in total.
Tip: Hotels.com have a price match guarantee. If you see the same room cheaper on another website, just book with hotels.com and then contact them to point out the difference and they’ll refund the difference.
Step 4: more ways to increase the savings
- Get your cashback paid out in Amazon vouchers: Instead of getting your cashback paid into your bank account, get them paid out in vouchers to use with Amazon (or other retails like M&S. You’ll typically get 5% extra this way so that €169 becomes €177.45.
- Consider staying in a (good) hostel rather than a hotel: We stayed in the Gallery Hostel, a boutique hostel in Porto, recently and it was better than most Porto hotels in the same price bracket.
- Use a rewards credit or debit card: Some credit and debit cards offer rewards such as cashback or points for using them.
- Consider Airbnb: Airbnb isn’t as cheap as it once was (everyone is trying to make a buck these days it seems) but it can sometimes be cheaper than hotels. It’s also a good place to find more unusual or quirky travel accommodation. Be sure to check it (and similar websites like Wimdu) out, particularly during the peak season when hotel prices are at their highest.
- Consider a package holiday: Sometimes, particularly in the off-season, there are excellent deals to be had on package holidays. Often, it’s cheaper to book a package holiday than to book the flight and hotel separately.
- Look for hotels with breakfast included: This doesn’t apply to Portugal as much as it does other countries, but finding a hotel deal with breakfast included can add up to significant savings. Most chain hotels these days charge somewhere around €15 per person, per day, for breakfast which obviously adds up. As mentioned, in Portugal breakfast in a café is cheap and shouldn’t run more than a few Euros.