The next time you are looking an inexpensive hotel room at the last minute, try asking for an "out of order" rate for a great deal.
Often a hotel will have a room or two with a minor problem like a broken TV or refrigerator. These rooms can't be charged at full price and they aren't in the hotel's inventory of rooms. These are called "out of order" or dirty rate rooms. You'll have to call the hotel directly to book these rooms, but it's a good way to save money -- especially for hotels that are fully booked.
Any empty room is a revenue loss for a hotel, so a manager has an incentive to rent these rooms. After checking into this tip I found a few caveats:
- Sometimes the booking will be under the table and "cash only" and you may not be able to use a credit card. This is because they don't want to risk a chargeback or the manager wants to pocket the cash since the room may not have gone through the standard reservation system.
- The defect they disclose may be incorrect. They don't track all the reasons the room has been taken out of inventory, usually just the chief reason.
- You can't book these rooms in advance-they are a "walk-in" rate. They are only available that day and not for a multi-night stay.
I called around to a few hotels and this is a verified tip, but don't be surprised if the hotel doesn't have any dirty rate rooms available that night. They'd much rather sell you a fully functional room at a full price. The later on in the evening you call, the more likely you'll get the room.