Manufactured Spending

Save on Hotels By Booking Nights Separately

There are lots of tips out there about how to save on hotel bookings. My go-to method is to check a series of tested OTA’s, Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, and hotel websites to find the best deals. But there’s another method that most people skip over: Searching and booking hotel nights separately. What does this mean exactly? During a normal hotel booking process, you would search rates for the entire duration of your stay (i.e. August 25 – 30). BUT you can actually save money by searching and making multiple reservations for the same period (i.e. booking 2 – 5 separate reservations for August 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29).

Hilton Paris Opera Deluxe Room save money on hotel by booking separately
Hilton Paris Opera Deluxe Room – I saved over $70 by booking nights separately

Hotel rates vary most days of the week depending on a variety of factors. Depending on the hotel market, a weekend rate can either be the cheapest (i.e. San Francisco) or the most expensive (i.e. Vegas). Check any hotel calendar and you’ll see various rates across the board. Most people assume that if the rates vary across a multiple night stay, the total price will be reflected accordingly. Wrong! A lot of hotels will just charge you the higher rate for the duration of your stay.

For example, a couple of months ago I had to book a 4-night stay for my younger sister at the Hilton Paris Opera. She was traveling around Europe with my cousin and apparently the hostel they booked turned out to be a bug-infested dump. Needless to say, they needed someplace less revolting to stay. Using the aforementioned technique, I was able to save $92 on a 3-night stay. It’s not a ton of cash, but it demonstrates the potential for larger savings on longer stays or on more expensive hotels.

The Hilton website showed the total cost for the entire stay on 8/19 – 8/22 as $918. But by booking two separate reservations (one for 8/19 and another for 8/20 – 8/22), the total cost came to $826. The difference in price can be attributed to the fact that there were no standard rooms available the first two nights. So I was essentially being forced to book a Deluxe room for all four nights, which cost more than the standard room. By booking nights separately, I was not just able to circumvent the price hike, but my sister ended up getting upgraded to the Deluxe room for the entire stay.

Another time this trick might come in handy is during promotions. When I booked the Conrad Makkah last year, there was a 25% off sale on Middle East hotels. The catch was that the rate had to be booked at least 24 hours in advance. I missed this cut-off, but rather than pay the higher rate, I made two separate reservations. So I only paid the higher rate during the first night.

If you want to try this yourself, just do two separate searches and compare the rates: One for the entire stay and one for individual dates. The Hilton and Starwood websites make it really easy by allowing you to view nightly rates on a calendar. The catch is that you have to search in 1-night increments to get the most accurate individual rates. You will need to go all the way to the booking page to see the final rate displayed with taxes and fees. Then simply add them up for each individual date and compare them against the price of a single-booking.

This technique is really ideal for promotions, stays that span across both weekends and weekdays, and those times when a standard room is only available for part of your stay.

Have you managed to save significantly by booking hotel nights separately? Please share in the comment section.

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  1. I did this one time and it saved a lot. However, I ran into trouble at the hotel desk. They were not happy to have to check me out and then back in each morning, re-do the room key each time, etc. Is there a way to get around this inconvenience?

    • Probably not but it is their job. They are paid to check in and check out each day and every day so don’t feel bad. You are not doing anything illegal here. If they are not happy then they should find some other happy job

    • They really don’t need to check you in and out. Usually they can combine the reservations. Every once in a while the keys do get de-activated, but I’ve never been asked to check in/out multiple times.

  2. Another advantage of doing this is if your travel plans change by one or two days on a multiple night stay, you can just cancel the reservations for the nights you need to change, without having the hotel price out your entire stay as a completely new reservation at the then current rates. Hyatt did this to me in NYC several years ago. Not fair!

    • That does not sound right. So you had booked a stay, shortened it, and they raised the rates on you?

      • Actually that does sound right and that has happened to me. Once I booked 4 nights at Hilton SFO and then I wanted to change that to three nights almost two months before check in date. Now they want to charge me at least $25 more per night because this the new rate they have. They wanted to cancel my previous reservation and book a new one instead of adjusting my existing reservation.

        • I would try to fight it. Talk to a manager and see if they’ll honor the lower rate as a one-time courtesy. I’ve checked out of hotels early before and they’ve never changed the rate on me for that. I guess it’s different if you do it in advance?

  3. I have used this trick frequently, also using points which also can change when booked separately. I then call c/s & ask them to link the separate reservations without issue. I also have had the room keys deactivate at the end of each reservation, though, which is indeed a hassle.

  4. Dave Williams

    What are OTA’s? It’s frustrating to come across such abbreviations when I read a column I’ve never come across before. Writers shouldn’t assume readers know such terms!

  5. OTA is Online Travel Agencies. Virtually anyone who travels would understand what it means.
    The blog is geared to people who travel at least semi frequently. So it is NOT an inconvenience to the targeted readers.
    If you dont understand the terms, Google is indeed your friend. You can google many abbreviations. Instead of being lazy and blame the author, may be you should try to put in a little bit effort of your own?

  6. I would also add to this topic on own experiences
    I ALWAYS booked individual single nights for any stay, unless there is an advantage such as 5th night free for example.
    The advantage of booking individual nights is 2-folds –
    First and Utmost, it gives you FLEXIBILITY should your travel plan change, you can take out individual nights in a multiple nights stay. Many hotels would impose a PENALTY if you shorten your stay from originally booked. In fact if you ever pay attention to the Room Rate Terms, such is called Early Departure Fee.
    Second, is it often could be cheaper as you have discovered. Reason being, when you book a multiple nights, if one or more nights are at higher prices, ALL the nights will be charged the higher rates even there are nights that are priced lower.
    So DONT BE A SUCKER to fall into the frequent sleazy scam the hotel industry play on consumers.

    As for having to check in and check out every morning or evening – it depends on the property. Most properties would simply combined all the reservations into one, and program your room keys accordingly. Some properties would even proactively do so. Other properties may just ask you to present the room key for reprogramming when you return in the evening. – because in their system the room keys would automatically go invalid after 12 noon or 1pm even if they have programmed it the earlier. We had that experience at Protea Kruger Gate, a Marriott brand at a prime location for visiting Kruger National Park in South Africa. I booked 4 individual nights for a 4 nights stay. The FD just told me to drop by the FD in the evening after we returned from the park and had our room keys reprogrammed. Worked smoothly. On one evening when we returned there were a couple who were checking in and had some issues so I was waiting patiently. The FD guy actually apologized to the couple, told them he needed to quickly take care of me as “she just need to have her keys reprogrammed.”
    We also had another experience at a Club Carlson hotel in Vilnius. 3 nights stay booked as individual nights. The FD prepared the paperwork which I signed for all 3 nights, and they told me just drop by each morning to “swap” the key.
    We did the same thing at Radisson Aqua at Chicago, another Club Carlson property,
    At Hilton Tallinn we had 2 nights stay booked as 2 individual nights. The hotel combined it into one reservation when we checked in at the Club Lounge.

    As you can see, booking single nights have a lot of advantage but virtually dont have any disadvantage. Smart travelers should have known this long time ago!

    • That’s a good point. It does provide more flexibility overall. In my experience, they’ll combine the reservations if you ask. You’d be surprised how inexperienced some hotel staff are. I recently tried to apply a Club Upgrade Award to a Hyatt stay. Hyatt customer service was telling me the hotel has to approve it. I call the hotel and they don’t even know what a Club Upgrade Award is. SMH…

  7. The disadvantsge is keeping up with individual reservation numbers, even electronic. Easier to have 1 res code.

  8. I just checked a Hilton reservation I have booked. As a single 3-night reservation the rate is $103 per night. As single dates on the flexible calendar, the daily rates are $143 / $111 / $111.

    So, breaking up the reservation doesn’t always pan out.

  9. Chad Prewett

    I always book individual nights when booking IHG reward nights . . . . If you book a reward night reservation and then need to change it later, IHG will just cancel the existing reservation and create a new reservation with your requested changes. The problem is–the original award-night points rate might no longer be available (especially if originally booked with a discounted rate like PointBreaks), and the new reservation will be created using the currently available awards rate (or possibly be unable to book because of no award availability). This happened to my twice before I realized what they were doing—I would book a multi-day reservation using IHG PointBreaks (5,000 points a night), then call to shorten or extend that reservation . . . . The rep would say “Yes, of course, we will make that change for you”, but then when the new reservation was emailed to me I saw that when it was processed, the system had applied the current award-points nightly cost to my reservation, rather than the original 5,000 award-points per night rate. In both cases, it took a lot of wrangling and escalation to get the reservation back to the intended (correct) point cost.

  10. I’m sure it happens but I’ve never had this issue on cash stays at IHG properties. They will even point out the difference in rate when there is a change during the stay. I notice this as I’m required to itemize my bills for expenses. I wonder if Hilton or other brands are worse avout this?

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