This post is about finding amazing cash rates for hotels. Forget about crappy hotel deals sites like Priceline and Expedia. Pick up some new tricks if you want really cheap hotel prices. If you try hard enough, you can average $20 to $30 per night at four and five-star hotels.
If you follow the steps we layout for you, as well as monitor current travel deals and promotions, you’ll be floored at the discounted prices you’ll pay for nice hotels.
These strategies are also great for “mattress running” to earn elite status. Whether you’re a stone’s throw away from earning the best elite statuses in the game or you’re dozens of elite night credits away, here’s an easy way to find the cheapest hotels in the world so you can achieve your desired hotel status as inexpensively as possible. And for hotels that don’t rank among the cheapest, here are ways to make them cheaper.
Easily find the cheapest hotels (great for mattress running)
If you’re unfamiliar with the term “mattress running,” it’s simply the strategy of booking hotel stays for reasons other than staying at the hotel. For example:
- There is a fantastic promotion that will award you tens of thousands of points by completing two stays by the end of October. You’ve only completed one stay, but those points are more valuable than the price of a night at your nearby hotel, so you book the room just to get the points
- You’re five nights away from earning elite status, so you find a cheap hotel and book five nights just to get your status
Mattress running is how we earned top-tier Marriott status between apartment leases. No matter your motive, finding the cheapest hotels around the world is an easier task than you may think. Here’s a step-by-step!
Step 1. Enter any location on Google Hotels
Head to Google Hotels and enter a location in the search bar. It can be anywhere, it doesn’t really matter — though if you’re resolute to stay in a certain country, you can obviously enter that. I’ll just put “United States” for this example.
Step 2. Filter by hotel chain
The secret weapon of this tool is the ability to search by hotel brand. If you are in fact trying to mattress run, or if you simply want to stay at a certain chain, click on “more filters” to the left of the map, and scroll down to “Brands.”
Here, you’ll find pretty much every hotel chain ever, including the big ones with which you might be interested in earning status. For this example, I’ll go with Marriott.
Step 3. Choose your dates
Enter the specific dates you plan to stay. Because I’m in mattress run mode, I’ll go with a month-long stay from November 16 to December 15.
Step 4. Choose your price range
The sidebar to the left will reflect the hotels displayed on the map in whichever region you’re viewing. You can see the cheapest hotels simply by clicking “Sort by price” above the hotel list, but it’s also a good idea to narrow your price range with the widget at the top.
Step 5. Find a location you want to visit
Drag the map all over the world to find a location you’d like to visit. Check the box at the top labeled “Update results when map moves.” There are some real gems in great areas around the world. India, Egypt, China, and Mexico are locations notorious for five-star hotels at ridiculously low prices.
Step 6. Choose a hotel
Back to Mexico. Few places in the world are better for a mattress run. You can hover your mouse above each hotel to see an overview and a link to Google’s summary page. Find the hotel you’re interested in and click its name.
Step 6. Check the price on the official hotel website
Note that the prices shown on Google can be misleading for two reasons:
- Google sometimes shows discounts lower than the price for booking direct. They’ve got their own discounts for many hotels
- These prices don’t include taxes and fees
Once at Google’s hotel summary page, click “Website” to be taken to the actual hotel site. There you can see how much you’ll actually spend for this hypothetical stay. You need to book directly with the hotel to ensure you earn elite nights. Booking through an OTA like Expedia or Hotwire will likely disqualify you from earning any points or elite night credits.
Step 7. Book direct
Marriott has a feature that allows you to view your stay with taxes and fees included. It’s insane to not just include that from the beginning, in my opinion. This particular hotel is $6 more expensive per day after taxes.
The stay would cost $1,197 all-in for a month. Not bad at all!
Additional tips for finding cheap hotels and mattress running
Tips for getting cheap hotel stays (great for mattress running!)
Keep in mind these few tactics when contemplating a mattress run:
- Be flexible with dates: If you move your travel dates by just a few days that can sometimes result in hundreds of dollars of savings
- Use a hotel credit card to jumpstart elite status earning: Credit cards from Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott all offer ways to get closer to elite status by offering complimentary elite night credits to cardholders
- You don’t have to go international for cheap stays: You can still find cheap hotels in your backyard, although it might take a bit more searching. For my recent mattress run, I was able to book a Marriott in South Dakota for $42 a night!
- Award stays do count towards elite status: Using points to book a stay can work too, since award stays with Hyatt, Hilton, IHG, Marriott and more all count towards elite status qualification. You can book some Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt hotels for as little as 5,000 points per night! Just note that if cash rates are exorbitantly low, it’s probably better to use cash and save your points for when you’d have to pay much more out of pocket.
Also, consider these more out-of-the-box ideas:
Best Rate Guarantees
I’ve talked about this on the surface level many times before but Best Rate Guarantees (BRGs) are consistently the most “hackable” ways to get hotel deals.
If you want my quick overview on the BRGs to get the most amazing hotel deals, I’ll summarize four of them. The first two have guarantees that they’ll have the best rate or you’ll get your first night free.
First, let me say that all these work the same way:
- Book on the website of the chain offering the guarantee
- Find a lower rate on a different website
- Fill out their “claim form”
- Wait to hear back on whether it’s accepted and discounted or not
IHG – Find a lower rate, receive a matched price and 5x IHG points for your stay (up to 40,000 points).
This is a sub-par offer, though earning bonus points can be tantamount to a discount. For example, we estimate IHG points value to be around 0.5 cents each. If you’ve got a $100 stay, you’ll earn at least 10 points per dollar, so you’ll earn a total of 1,000 IHG points. This Best Price Guarantee means you’ll get another 4,000 IHG points, which is worth an average of $20. Lame.
We’ve had success using the Best Price Guarantee at many InterContinental hotels, such as:
- InterContinental San Juan
- InterContinental Budapest
- InterContinental Vienna
- InterContinental Nairobi
- InterContinental Dusseldorf
- InterContinental Austin
Choice BRG – Find a lower rate, receive a matched price plus a $50 gift card. Residents living outside the U.S./Canada get the first night free.
For those of us living in the U.S. and Canada, this is slightly better than IHG for most of us. After all, depending on where you’re traveling, you can find some really decent $50 Choice hotels. Receiving a $50 gift card could be like getting a free night. And international residents get the sweetest deal with a straight up free night.
Anyway, I tend to do this less because my success rate is lower.
Hilton BRG – Find a lower rate, receive a matched price and 25% off the entire stay.
This sounds good at first; 25% off your entire stay could mean hundreds of dollars in savings. But remember, we’re trying to book hotels for super cheap to begin with — we don’t want a “the more you spend, the more you save” kind of BRG. For this reason, I’d prefer the Choice BRG over this one.
Best Western – Find a lower rate, get a $100 Best Western gift card.
This is pretty incredible, as you can use a gift card to pay for a hotel that you’ve BRGed. It could potentially be an endless circle of Best Rate Guarantees. I’ve been too preoccupied with other things to invest in the original stay.
Amazingly cheap hotel redemptions
This concept is simple: using your rewards points for Category 1 and 2 hotels (the least points-expensive ones) can save a ton of points. It’s rare that they are in a good location, so I tried to make a list of all the cheap hotel redemptions in hotels/places that I would actually spend time.
If you look at many countries around the world, such as Indonesia, Argentina, India, Egypt, etc., you can find plenty of four and five-star hotels for dirt cheap — both in cash prices and award prices. It’s true with basically every chain but here are a couple of examples:
- 70,000 Marriott points could get you one night at a top-tier Marriott hotel like the St. Regis Maldives. Or, it could get you seven nights at a Category 2 hotel like the AC Hotel Pisa, Italy — or 14 nights at a Category 1 hotel like the Four Points by Sheraton Bali, Ungasan!
- 95,000 Hilton points could get you one night at the top-notch Conrad Maldives. Or, it could get you nine nights at the Hilton Sharks Bay Resort, Egypt, or (nearly) five nights at the Hilton Garden Inn Vienna South
Whatever your reason when searching for the cheapest hotels in the world, they’re easy to find with Google Hotels. You can filter by price and hotel brand — and it’s got an interactive map to help you quickly scan desirable locations around the world.
You can also try your hand at Best Rate Guarantees, which can prove unbelievable for scoring extreme hotel deals. and searching abroad in Asia and South America for hotels at rock-bottom cash/award prices. I assure you that I manage $30 per night at four and five-star hotels not because I’m special or because I only travel to specific locations, however; it is entirely because we have the methods listed in this post at our fingertips.
At the end of the day, you always have hotel points to secure free nights. Just a single hotel credit card can get you a dozen free nights from a single welcome bonus!
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Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
Earn 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™.
2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
No foreign transaction fees.
Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster
Intro APR on purchases
15.99% – 22.99% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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