The secret is to look for special offers from business and resort hotels, especially in large cities.
On a weekend trip to Brussels, for example, I specifically looked for hotels that catered to the hordes of European Union and business travelers (the EU headquarters is in Brussels) because those are the places that have empty beds on weekends, when offices are closed.
Empty beds = lodging bargains.
Sure enough, we scored a decently-priced, well-located room at the Hotel Novotel Brussels Centre Tour Noire. Take a minute to click the link to see their photo – the hotel is constructed around a medieval tower.
Sundays are another tough time for hotels to fill beds; weekenders have checked out, but Monday’s business travelers haven’t arrived. This also works to a family’s advantage in summer, or on any Monday when school’s out.
Lo and behold, the schmancy Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa, with a beautiful wooded setting in central Houston, had a special offer well below $200 and it included full use of their three resort pools (mostly for my kids) and amazing 125,000 square foot fitness facility (for Sainted Husband and I.)
Since their rate is often $400 and up, I pounced.
- Advantages: the room was nice, staff was very accommodating, WiFi was free (big plus for both me and my teen daughter,) the lush pools included a nice slide and the fitness facility was one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen. Parking was also free, which can be tough to find in cities (just say no thanks to the swank valet and carry your own bags.)
- Disadvantages: the cost of food. The poolside snack bar and small cafe inside the fitness facility were reasonable and portions were large, so a casual dinner for all of us was not too expensive. Breakfast was not included, however, so my teen and I made the mistake of going down to the main dining room, thinking there’d be a breakfast buffet. Whoa, presentation and food were lovely. Whoa, no buffet and all à la carte makes for a big bill.
We should have either all gone to the fitness facility cafe, or brought in milk and packaged cold cereal to stuff in the room’s refrigerator, or rousted everyone out for breakfast at one of Houston’s favorites like The Breakfast Klub or an early Tex-Mex lunch at Lupe Tortilla.
If you find a good weekend deal, take a hard look at food and parking costs to ensure they don’t offset a low room rate, then get ready to enjoy your short getaway.