How to Book Discounted Rooms at Top Hotels

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Tried and true hotel brokers (hotel consolidators)

For many years, the American hotel industry watched the emergence of discount companies in air transportation and cruises, and sternly resisted the trend. Then, a little over a decade and a half ago, the industry succumbed. Faced with a growing glut of rooms resulting from the over-building of hotels in the 1980's, they slowly began assigning a portion of their space to independent companies for resale to the public--quietly, without advertising, covertly--at discounts ranging up to 50 percent.

The largest of consolidators

Travelweb (travelweb.com)
Travelweb is run by the biggest of the big hotel chains: Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, Intercontinental Hotel Group (owner of Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza), Starwood (owner of Sheraton, Westin, and W hotels), and priceline.com--whew! Anti-trust issues aside, Travelweb is going to be the cheapest source if you're looking to stay at any of the above hotels-a-lways undercutting, or at the very least matching every other competitor (so take advantage of this one-stop shop now before the feds roll in!). Its hotel display matrix is the patented i-Deal, allowing visitors to easily scroll through thousands of discounted rooms worldwide.

Hotel Discounts (800/715-7666, Hoteldiscount.com)
A big selection of U.S. cities distinguishes this large company, as does its claim to obtain first-class accommodations for under $100 a night per room. Average savings, it claims, can run to 65percent, or 40 percent off corporate rates. With 9,000 properties and 400 destinations in North America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia, Hotel Discounts offers up to 70 percent off. Internationally, HD books hotels in all the major capitals of Europe and Toronto and Rome.

1-800-USA-HOTEL (800/872-4683, 1800usahotels.com)
Offers around-the-clock reservations service as well as discounts of up to 40 percent and 50 percent, working with more than 11,000 domestic hotels, including most major chains. Despite its name, it now books hotels internationally as well in 200 countries worldwide. The company charges no cancellation fees (although the individual hotels sometimes do, so be sure to ask), and offers a miles for nights program good with four major carriers.

Quikbook (800/789-9887, quikbook.com)
Another massive hotel booker, in business since 1988. It claims that if a customer can find a lower rate than Quikbook can provide for a certain hotel on a certain date, it will refund the difference. This service can often slash 25 percent to 50 percentoff a property's quoted rates in over 60 cities nationwide. Its Web site was named Forbes Best of the Web three years running.

Expedia (expedia.com)
One of the biggies when it comes to online bookings, it has a large and varied selection of lodgings not only in the US, but throughout the world. Because of its size, it often beats the rates offered by smaller competitors and usually can arrange discounted rates of 40 percent or more.

HotelsOnline.com (800/511-5318, hotelsonline.com)
This eight-year-old has enormous reach, offering 58,000 hotels (including most major chains) virtually everywhere in the United States, plus a good number in Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, even Africa.

Priceline (priceline.com)
While it won't allow customers to see the name of the hotel before the booking is made, it does allow for the choice of neighborhood and star level. Travelers who can handle this degree of uncertainty are often rewarded with discounts of 40 percent and often more, off not only "rack" (or published) rates, but discounted rates as well.

Orbitz (orbitz.com)
Originally developed by the five major airlines, Orbitz is now most famous for its interactive pop-ups that are more video games than ads (volleyball, baseball, or belly-flopping anyone?). Its 500,000 lodging options and the new Hotel Matrix Display highlight savings of up to 70 percent.

All-Hotels (all-hotels.com)
Based in Edinburgh with some 90,000 properties (20,000 of which are European hotels not listed anywhere else online), All-Hotels caters to travelers looking for cheap rooms as well as discounted five-star accommodations, even at the last minute.

Cheapaccommodation.com (Cheapaccommodation.com)
The feisty little sister of UK-based cheapflights.com is as powerful a source for international hotel specials as its sibling is for airfare, offering bedding deals in 170 countries.

U.S. specialists

ExpressReservations (800/407-3351, express-res.com)
Books only good-quality New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C. hotels at discounts that often approach 30%percentand 40%percent depending on time of year. The hotel is paid directly--to prepaid vouchers.

Hotel ConXions (800/522-9991, hotelconxions.com)
Discounts the rates of hotels in major U.S. cities--New York, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago, Miami and Orlando. Claims its cuts an average 30 percent (with some markdowns of up to 60 percent, and also states it has space in generally sold-out periods. However, discounts are not available during certain peak periods.

Hot Rooms (800/468-3500, hotrooms.com)
Chicag-only service, a pioneer in hotel discounting that books rooms annually at savings of up to 40 percent to 50 percent off published prices. You pay the hotel directly.

WashingtonDC Accommodations (800/554-2220, wdcahotels.com)
This DC specialist promises that its staff will "sleep around" to ensure the satisfaction of its clients, staying in each of the hotels covered. Along with this expertise, the company claims to book hotels at a rate 30 percent to 50 percentless than the rack rate.

Hotres.com (hotres.com)
handling New York City--with 90 Manhattan hotels in all price ranges--as well as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington D.C. Claims to save between $20 and $60 nightly on rooms.

For Europe, South America, and Asia

Octopus (866/4-OCTOPUS, octopustravel.com)
Specializes in hotels in Europe and Asia, with 20,000 self-catering apartments in 3,300 cities. Promises to refund the difference if a customer books and then finds a lower rate somewhere else online.

Laterooms (laterooms.com)
Specializes in "last minute" bookings, usually two weeks or less before arrival. Its best rates tend to be in the UK and France. Laterooms not only offers hotel deals in the UK, Ireland and Europe, but also offers access to latelet.com, which allows users to search worldwide holiday rentals.

Travel Interlink (800/888-5898)

Representatives of hotels primarily in Asia, South America and Europe, and offers discounts off their published rates that can run as high as 30 percent to 50 percent.

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