Booking.com has always given me the best guaranteed prices on hotels when I travel. And with its expansion into apartments, bed an breakfasts, private country homes, farmhouse accommodation, and villas, it is now my go to website every time I'm researching my next trip away.
BUT. Until a little while ago, I didn't realise that I was missing out on being shown available deals and discounts. BIG ones.
Just because I was omitting to do two, simple, things.
You see, I had always searched without putting my intended dates of stay into the search box. This one.
I left them empty, not because I was lazy, but because I thought that not doing so would give me the best opportunity from the results that Booking.com listed to see what was on offer at prices that suited me.
Which it does.
And because, usually when I'm doing research for a trip and where to stay, I'm not at the point where I'm yet fixed on my dates.
Little did I know that entering your Check-in and Check-out days doesn't in fact limit you to prices on those days. The booking system throws up prices from within 15 days before and 15 days after your dates too. Which is well within the scope of the time period I would usually have in mind.
AND. Entering your Check-in and Check-out dates does something else. Booking.com gives you an option that it wouldn't otherwise, of digging deeper for even bigger deals.
And it's a simple option to activate. With discounts for the same rooms, with the same services, on the same dates you want, of between 10% and 50%.
All you have to do is scroll down the left-hand menu with the blue heading, "Filter by" , until you reach the sub-heading, "Deal". And click on the "Value Deal" filter.
Booking.com will then, along with the BARGAIN DEALS that you normally see in your regular search results, show you a second set of discounts called TODAY's VALUE DEAL.
And whereas BARGAIN DEALS are typically regular discounts on room and accommodation rates of between 10% and 15%.
The TODAY VALUE DEALS are much more interesting.
TIP. A big one.
If there is a TODAY'S VALUE DEAL that you like the look of, don't close down your browser window whilst you think about it and come back later. Keep that page open.
The deal doesn't - as I had mistakenly thought for ages before I wised-up! - refer to a booking for tonight! It means a discount only available if you book today. Tomorrow the opportunity will be gone.
In fact, because the TODAY deals are usually in the range of 30% to 50% and sometimes even more, they are normally limited to a small number of rooms/apartments - often only 1 - is available. And they are snapped-up pretty fast.
Which means that if you close your browser down and then go back later you will likely find a polite message telling you that you have missed the opportunity.
In researching this article and speaking with some well seasoned bargain hunter travellers I know, these deals aren't as I also thought, limited to last minute bookings.
I'm writing this in the middle of winter and I have been putting in dates for a stay in April. Spring in Tuscany: one of the best times to visit. And to my surprise, a wonderful set of spacious apartments in the historic heart of a stunningly beautiful hill town here in Maremma - definitely on the not to miss list - in an atmospheric restored medieval palace no less, are available at discounts of 30%. And I know, personally, that those apartments are fantastic.
So I did more searches, this time for the beautiful Tuscany cities of Florence and Siena. For lovely accommodation that I know. And again, 27% and more discounts on spring rooms, months away.
So. Here is the Booking.com search box. Go put in your dates. And click on the Value Deal filter. :)
Send me a message if you find a deal that makes you happy :)
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