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Motel Prices
Old 10-06-2012, 08:12 PM   #1
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Motel Prices

We are no longer a busy travelers, so this may sound a bit naive. Our motel expenses are on the way back and forth from Illinois to Florida, but because we don't like a lot of driving, we usually spend three nights in motels.

Despite going on-line to Orbitz and the rest of the supposed discounters, we have found... for the past 23 years, that our best bet... and the only way we travel, is to go to the State Welcome Centers and pick up either the "Green Book" or the "Red Book", to get the coupon prices. (Have to watch the closing times for some Centers, with the recent cutbacks.)

On almost every trip, either at check in or check out, we find others who either have reservations or have AARP, AAA cards, etc... who are paying from $5 to $25 more than we are for the equivalent room.

The coupon prices that used to be $29/night for 2, are much more now, but to date, the most we have paid, was $59... and that, only twice. The going coupon rate has been about $49 to $59 for Places like Quality, Super 8, Best Western, where we usually stay, because of the better breakfasts. Price depends upon the city or state... IL is higher than GA, TN, or KY. These low prices are NEVER listed on the Corporate sites, nor on the "guaranteed lowest price" sites... It may have to do with the reservation aspect, since the coupons, don't allow reserving rooms... only walk ins... In those 23 years of travel, the only times we were refused a coupon rate was when a major event (football game) was in town... and at that it only happened twice.

That's our "take" on motel prices... Would be interested in hearing from others.
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:42 PM   #2
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Despite going on-line to Orbitz and the rest of the supposed discounters, we have found... for the past 23 years, that our best bet... and the only way we travel, is to go to the State Welcome Centers and pick up either the "Green Book" or the "Red Book", to get the coupon prices. (Have to watch the closing times for some Centers, with the recent cutbacks.)
This is a good tip, and we've done the same thing. On I-95 the booklet is called the "Exit Information Guide" or "EIG". The coupon books/guides are also available at most state rest stops and sometimes at gas stations/fast food joints on major highways. Years ago it was useful to have a AAA Tourbook so we could see what AAA said about the various hotels, but today you could probably get good info online. And, with a cell phone you can now call and make sure there's a room available before you drive to the hotel.
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:50 PM   #3
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We use Priceline 90% of the time. We never bid lower than a 3*. $65 is the highest we have bid. Have stayed in some very nice places. In a few weeks we are taking off for Maine to visit son. We are not using PL, as there is a quaint hotel we love...close to everything.

Just got back from St. Louis. We used PL to book downtown. It was not the nicest hotel we have ever stayed in, but still a great experience....$120 if you booked on their website.
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:03 PM   #4
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We used to use the coupon books at the state welcome centers, but now that I'm retired I have more time to plan our roadtrips and planning the trips is part of the fun. I prefer to make reservations online for every night. I usually start with the AAA website and then use the various motel chain corporate sites. Since we belong to a number of motel rewards programs, we get the occasional free night. The AAA website has a number of independent mom and pop motels. If you are travelling to a popular destination, it's foolish to not have advance reservations. Also, you never know when some big event will be happening at a location where you plan the spend the night.

Another factor is that we stay off the interstates as much as possible. There are no welcome centers on the back roads.
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:45 PM   #5
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We used to use the coupon books at the state welcome centers, but now that I'm retired I have more time to plan our roadtrips and planning the trips is part of the fun. I prefer to make reservations online for every night. I usually start with the AAA website and then use the various motel chain corporate sites. Since we belong to a number of motel rewards programs, we get the occasional free night. The AAA website has a number of independent mom and pop motels. If you are travelling to a popular destination, it's foolish to not have advance reservations. Also, you never know when some big event will be happening at a location where you plan the spend the night.

Another factor is that we stay off the interstates as much as possible. There are no welcome centers on the back roads.
This sounds familiar. We used to do the coupon thing too. But now plan ahead, not because we are ER'd yet, but because DW likes to read reviews of places first.

A few bad choices made us gunshy. And then there is the bedbug registry check she likes to do.
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:51 PM   #6
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Did a Priceline last week on short notice for a hotel close to CVG airport. DH wanted to be close to the airport for his flight out the next day. Ended up getting a 2 star for $48. It was really grubby. The TripAdvisor reviews were horrible but he was stuck because PL wouldn't budge. I don't know why they even put such grungy hotels in their inventory. Isn't the star rating just about the amenities? Not the quality of the housekeeping.
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Old 10-07-2012, 10:04 AM   #7
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I know this is off topic but I have to recommend using Travelzoo for hotels especially in large cities . We got The Casa Hotel in New York City for $179 a bargain in New York especially since it was fashion week and most of the hotels were sold out .The Casa Hotel is a boutique hotel close to Times Square but away from the noise . It is now my favorite New York Hotel . Extremely clean , spacious rooms , large bathrooms & the $179 included free WI-FI.
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Old 10-07-2012, 10:34 AM   #8
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We haven't been on a US road trip in a while, (overdue, I guess), but we're big fans of the welcome centres and their coupons........and, although we prefer back roads, if we're going to a city we head over to the interstate just prior to entry.

Otherwise...being 'frugal', and early risers anyway, the last time we were in Charleston, SC, (for example), we stayed an hour or so outside town, got up real early, drove in.......parked, walked around all day and left.......same, same Savannah, GA; pretty much all the things we want to see in a city are right in the core, and on a long warm day we can just about get a glimpse of 'everything'.
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Old 10-07-2012, 10:40 AM   #9
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I know this is off topic but I have to recommend using Travelzoo for hotels especially in large cities . We got The Casa Hotel in New York City for $179 a bargain in New York especially since it was fashion week and most of the hotels were sold out .The Casa Hotel is a boutique hotel close to Times Square but away from the noise . It is now my favorite New York Hotel . Extremely clean , spacious rooms , large bathrooms & the $179 included free WI-FI.
We were talking about visiting NY City some day. I looked on-line and it mentioned $325 which included a continental breakfast for 2. The Tripadvisor reports were very good, but their rates were high too. Any pointers on how to get such a good rate, or is this seasonal or something?
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Old 10-07-2012, 10:54 AM   #10
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We were talking about visiting NY City some day. I looked on-line and it mentioned $325 which included a continental breakfast for 2. The Tripadvisor reports were very good, but their rates were high too. Any pointers on how to get such a good rate, or is this seasonal or something?
That is about what we paid. The hotel was quite nice though. (City Club Hotel).
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Old 10-07-2012, 11:46 AM   #11
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We were talking about visiting NY City some day. I looked on-line and it mentioned $325 which included a continental breakfast for 2. The Tripadvisor reports were very good, but their rates were high too. Any pointers on how to get such a good rate, or is this seasonal or something?
They frequently have the $179 deal on Travelzoo . If that deal is not available I would do Priceline for NYC.
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:03 PM   #12
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I've had good luck using Priceline and bidding on 3* or better hotels. I can usually get a pretty nice (DW is happy) room for about $45 -50 before taxes.
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:56 PM   #13
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I've used motel coupons when I've needed a place for one night while on road trips. I've used priceline for bidding on 4* places in NY & San Francisco. For whatever reason, 3* and 4* hotels (according to priceline's ratings) tend to be available for similar prices in those cities, and by restricting bidding to 4* places, you can more easily take advantage of priceline's rules for bidding. There are a couple of websites out there (Priceline and Hotwire Forum and BiddingForTravel.com Forums) which explain how to bid, and where people post winning bids. I've also used hotwire for hotel rooms in NY, SF, and a couple of other places. The betterbidding website lists hotels/motels which people have won on hotwire along with their amenities. Each time I booked a room on hotwire, I was pretty sure which hotel I would be getting. I haven't been surprised yet.
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Old 10-07-2012, 07:04 PM   #14
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I'd love to start using coupons for road trip overnight stays. However, the first time we got less than acceptable accomodations I'm afraid DW and I would swear off on cut rate deals forever. After 30+ of full time travelling I've gotten very picky about hotel rooms.
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Old 10-07-2012, 07:40 PM   #15
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I'd love to start using coupons for road trip overnight stays. However, the first time we got less than acceptable accomodations I'm afraid DW and I would swear off on cut rate deals forever. After 30+ of full time travelling I've gotten very picky about hotel rooms.
It's interesting to me that a poor hotel experience (shabby or dirty) can tarnish an otherwise nice part of a trip. Of course, the the feeling of shabby/dirty is a subjective one.
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Old 10-07-2012, 08:06 PM   #16
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In addition to shunning interstates I also shun big cities. Definition: A big city is a town with more than one stoplight. A roundabout counts as 10 stoplights.

In This type of place the discount travel websites are not much help.

Also, I find the housekeeping and the employee attitude to be much superior in Motel-By-The-Road in Podunk than in the multi-star big city hotels where I was required to stay in I was working.

Did I mention that I don't like big cities?
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Old 10-07-2012, 08:45 PM   #17
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It's interesting to me that a poor hotel experience (shabby or dirty) can tarnish an otherwise nice part of a trip. Of course, the the feeling of shabby/dirty is a subjective one.
Who said anything about tarnishing a trip? I don't live in a dump nor do I wish to spend any time, even a night in a dump if I can avoid it. Trust me, I've stayed in enough of them over the years.
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:42 PM   #18
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I'd love to start using coupons for road trip overnight stays. However, the first time we got less than acceptable accomodations I'm afraid DW and I would swear off on cut rate deals forever. After 30+ of full time travelling I've gotten very picky about hotel rooms.
We also seem to be getting more picky about hotels. We travel a fair amount and have stayed in all levels of motel/hotel. When we go cheap, we're often disappointed and say "never again."

A few years back, I started doing hotel rate math. I estimated how many nights per year I'd likely stay in a hotel. Take that times the number of years I might be traveling in the future and then imagine what spending an extra $30 or $40 per night might get us in better hotel experiences. With that in mind, we often opt for a nicer place and are usually glad we did.
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:23 PM   #19
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We've had good luck with Priceline so far. Over the past 3 years we've stayed in 13 motels/hotels where we used their bid system to determine price and make the reservation. We try not to go below 3 star to avoid winding up in a dump.

Out of our 13 nights, one was a loser. It was a LaQuinta outside of Little Rock on our way to Texas for some winter fishing on lake LBJ. The place was oddly located in relation to the interstate and obviously wasn't doing much business. The staff was nice but couldn't make up for the fact that the facility wasn't in good condition.

The other 12 nights have been fine. Most of the bids turned out to be Marriotts and we were in at less than half price. Once, while attending a canoe/kayak exhibition in Madison, Wis, we got a top floor suite in a high tier hotel downtown for less than friends were paying for a room in a discount motel out on the interstate. Downtown Madison has a number of fine restaurants and other attractions and we had a great time.

Don't use the Priceline bid program if you don't have a bit of a sense of adventure and don't bid more than you'd consider a real bargain since you might wind up walking away from the room, with no refund, if you don't like it. We almost walked away from the marginal LaQuinta. But most of the time we're very pleased.
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:34 PM   #20
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I'd love to start using coupons for road trip overnight stays. However, the first time we got less than acceptable accomodations I'm afraid DW and I would swear off on cut rate deals forever. After 30+ of full time travelling I've gotten very picky about hotel rooms.
When using coupons, don't be bashful about checking things out BEFORE swiping your CC. If it's an off brand establishment or even a top brand but just doesn't seem right, ask to see the room. If anything is below expectations, move on.

It doesn't bother me to have some two bit desk clerk think I'm a jerk for leaving after a quick room inspection. And, actually, most times they're very accomodating.
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