illustration by Allison Berg

Travel Tips

Hotel Tips for the Broke and Bougie

Check out these secrets to living the “hotel suite” life.

If you’re anything like me, you tend to enjoy the finer things in life, but as life would have it, you also tend to have a tight wallet/budget. I’m looking at you, God—giving me these filet mignon tastes and leaving me with a chicken-nugget budget. Traveling on a budget can already be challenging, especially when you feel like you’re forced to cut down on luxuries. One area I stand firm on is accommodations. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t stay at any ol’ place. I’d rather not stay with friends, especially if they have any type of dogs; otherwise, you come home with a 100% Queen Virgin Remy lace front clinging to your jeans. And don’t even think about staying over at Tonya’s house, where her grandma, uncle, mom, dad, and cousin all smoke out the chimney. And you definitely won’t have me as a guest if you don’t know about using two different rags when you wash up. (Otherwise, I’m completely confused about how people are getting properly cleaned, like how sway? How?) Anyhoo, the point is I am very picky about where I choose to lay my head at night. And for me, the hotel is part of my vacation experience. So, thinking about cutting corners on hotel selection is already making my eye twitch. My only problem with having standards like these is that my wallet never matches them. I swear conversations with my bank account be like:

Me: “Ooh, can I stay at the Ritz-Carlton?”

Bank account: “Do you got Ritz-Carlton money?”

So, if you are like me and you share my struggle, then use my broke-but-bougie secrets to living the “hotel suite” life.

1. Lemme upgrade ya.
If you are celebrating a special occasion, make sure you tell the hotel in advance or at check-in. The occasion could literally be anything: a birthday, your first time visiting the area, or celebrating the fact that you mastered the perfect winged eye liner this morning! The front desk and hotel staff are always looking for opportunities to make your experience a delight, and special occasions are a perfect way for them to do something special. Plus, front desk staff are authorized to make upgrades for special occasions, so don’t be afraid to share your celebration. Finding a nude matte lipstick that works with my skin tone is celebration enough for me!

2. Spam, please.
Join the hotel’s rewards program and sign up for the e-newsletters. Yeah, it can be really annoying having your inbox blown up, but it’s so worth it. There are so many deals and special discounts that are often overlooked. Most hotels use their rewards programs to invite you to special events and activities within the hotel. You will also receive perks like complimentary breakfast, lounge access, and free Internet, and with your membership you get the opportunity to rack up points that you can use to reward yourself for future stays. Joining the program means you are a potential loyal customer, and hotels love rolling out the red carpet for their loyal customers. Did I mention that it’s all for FREE? Do it.

3. Sunday is the new Friday.
When booking your reservation, keep in mind that luxury hotels, especially in destination cities, usually are the cheapest on Sundays and most expensive on Fridays. Weekend rates are sometimes double the weekday rates, so if arriving on a Sunday saves me a couple hundred bucks a night, then so be it. I’ll be streaming church from the comforts of my nonsmoking, feather-free, king-bed water-view room.

4. Location is everything.
For my bougie self, it’s all about location when choosing hotels. I want to be where all the action is. I want to be walking distance from the hot spots and cool areas, and I want to have a great view of something, whether it’s the beach, the city skyline, or the nearest Cold Stone Creamery. The unfortunate thing is that, of course, it comes with a price. To avoid price hikes and extra fees, stay at city hotels on the weekends—that way business travelers will have already departed, and then stay at weekend leisure resorts during the week. You can save up to 40% off the usual rate at luxury hotels just by knowing where to stay on which days. So now you can really have your cake and eat it too!

5. Work, work, work.
Most large companies and organizations have a corporate rate with certain luxury hotels. Before you pick your hotel, find out who books executive travel at your company, and get a list of preferred hotels. Some luxury hotels charge companies that have a volume-based deal with them up to 70% less for accommodations. It’s as easy as contacting the hotel directly and asking for the rate provided to your company. This will save you tons of cash and cost nothing for your company.

6. You need to swipe it.
This is probably the most dangerous tip but worth sharing anyway. You know what they say—you’ve got to spend money to save money, or something like that. Most luxury hotel chains will have a cobranded credit card that will come with a sign-up bonus that more than likely will include bonus points or free night stays. Who doesn’t like free, pretty, shiny credit cards? If you have some resolve, I would definitely take advantage of these types of offers but only if you can shake the need to want to shop till you drop. Interest charges will kill you, and you will end up losing out on all the perks of the card.

 

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