Best Cheap Hotels: How to REALLY get the best hotel on (and within your budget) | Covering the Intersections of Race, Culture, Sexuality, and Fashion | 48min Best Cheap Hotels: How to REALLY get the best hotel on (and within your budget) | Covering the Intersections of Race, Culture, Sexuality, and Fashion | 48min

Best Cheap Hotels: How to REALLY get the best hotel on (and within your budget)

I’ve traveled a fair amount, so I’ve done quite a lot of online research, so how does one REALLY get a good hotel room on hotel aggregators like, Expedia and Travelocity?

Some people say that a hotel doesn’t matter on a holiday; that’s it’s just a place to stay to sleep in. I used to be someone that agreed with that wholeheartedly. Now that I’ve grown older, have more resources (aka $$) and traveled a lot more, I know that a good hotel is more than just a room that provides a (any) bed to sleep in. I get that rationale, but you don’t always have to pay high prices to get a good quality room. So if you can add a really good hotel at really good price to improve your holiday experience — why wouldn’t you?

For example, on my trips to India, it was very apparent that having a comfortable respite mattered to me that after a long day of walking around in bustling, crowded big cities like New Delhi or Mumbai. The fact that I wasn’t returning to a dingy, bare-bones room that felt like a prison cell improved my enjoyment of all that’s great about traveling in India. Coming back to a place that I could relax on a nicer bed with nicer sheets, a good wireless connection and not feeling crowded in the tiny bathroom mattered.

Here’s how you get a really good price on a quality hotel on (and other hotel sites)

How to read reviews, stars and ratings on

The post title talks specifically about, but it doesn’t matter what booking site you’re looking at. It can be Expedia, Hotel Tonight, Travelocity or, the advice we’re about to give you applies to them all.

It basically comes down to the reviews and each site has them. And they’re extremely important to finding the best hotel that’s within your budget.

When looking at hotel listings, it’s not hard to feel overwhelmed by the number of results and end up paying way more for what looks like a sure bet. But what’s a sure bet? In a sea of $100/night options, it’s easy to pay $325 per night to ensure you don’t have to worry about the quality of your accommodation. That extra $225 or so is peace of mind.

What if I told you that you can get a great hotel for much less; that it just takes a little more leg work and research? If you’re taking a long weekend to travel to Miami and end up saving $200/night, that’s an easy $600 in savings — obviously, the potential to save more is higher if your holiday is longer.

The good news is all you need is right in front of you. The overall rating, the numbers of the reviews and the reviews themselves. Straight out, I can’t emphasize how important it is not to take a rating at face value. You must look equally at both the rating and the number of reviews it has. As a rule of thumb, I’ll only book a hotel that’s not only in my budget, in my target location, but also has a rating of at least 8.5 on with at least 100 total reviews.

That’s because hotel reviews can be manipulated whether purposely or unintentionally – mostly the former. Any hotel can pay for reviews or have a handful of friends review their property. After a few reviews, it’s easy for that hotel to have a high rating. That’s why the overall number of reviews matters.

The rationale is that once they get that great rating, some poor souls will actually book that hotel. Over time, we’ll find out whether that hotel deserves that “Exceptional” rating or not. That’s the power of crowd sourcing — the more reviews, the more the actual quality, and rating, will net out.

With an 8.2 rating on with 400 reviews and a 4.5 on Tripadvisor with 458 reviews, we’re fairly confident that this is going to be a good hotel

Book the best hotel for the best price

If you have an understanding of how it all works, then you just have to determine what you want and how much you want to pay. What’s important to you when you’re in a hotel – strong wifi or free continental breakfast? Is location or parking necessary to you? Once you figured out the list of realistic wants, think about what price you’re comfortable with.

Once you have all your non-negotiables and as long as you’re flexible, you’re ready to book. Use the hotel booking website’s sorting feature to filter all hotels

• Search the date and city you’re visiting
• Filter out any listings below specific rating threshold (for anything under 8.0)
• Filter listings to remove any hotels above your price range
• Now look at your listings, paying specific attention to only hotels with 100 reviews or more – the more the better.
• With several candidates now, read the hotel’s reviews to get a sense of what people love (and don’t love) about the hotel.

If you ran through all the above steps and no listings come up, then you’ll have to adjust your filters until you have some options that pop up,


At the end of the day, you can get a great hotel vetted by hundreds of people that have stayed there, one that meets your personal needs and at a price that you’ve budgeted for. All it requires is some extra work, an understanding of how reviews work and how to use the site’s filter features to your advantage. Now enjoy the feeling of satisfaction that you got a $280 per night hotel for $85 a night.

Not only can you enjoy your holiday in a nice room, but you also have the satisfaction that you got four star treatment at two star price.

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