How can I find a good hotel rate in Minneapolis?
March 9, 2004 8:23 AM   Subscribe

As a frequent user of Priceline, I now cringe at the idea of paying rack rate for a hotel. I am planning a vacation to Minneapolis the week of March 20 and would like a little more control over my accommodations than can be offered by Priceline. Any advice on finding a good rate? [more inside]

I’ve already checked Travelocity, Expedia, and their ilk, and had a terrible experience with Hotwire once. I don't have access to AAA or corporate discounts. Is there some sort of super-secret Stonecutters discount code that someone could clue me in on?
posted by Otis to Travel & Transportation around Minneapolis, MN (11 answers total)
 
What experience did you have with Hotwire? I've gotten great deals with them in Chicago, DC, and Philly. Although I'm basically only looking for location and not ammenities, since the only thing I'm doing in a hotel room is sleeping a few hours each night.
posted by corpse at 8:32 AM on March 9, 2004


A neighbor of mine works in the back office for one of the large hotel chains. Though I've yet to try it, she contends a good way to find the best rate is to call the hotels directly (not the corporate 800 number) and ask what they're best rate is for your time period.
posted by SteveInMaine at 8:42 AM on March 9, 2004


site59.com is suppossed to be good.
posted by trbrts at 8:45 AM on March 9, 2004


Also, a AAA card only costs about $30-50 [more if you get AAA plus] so even if you don't have a car, if you think you'll use it and its 10% discount more than a few nights a year, it might be worth the investment. I generally find cheap motels by checking sites for backpackers/travellers like The Rough Guide and Lonely Planet, some of which have message boards where people swap good info on cheap places to stay. Sometimes hotel-ish, sometimes more like hostels.

Also worth knowing is that in many big cities, you can reserve a private room for two at a youth hostel which is much cheaper than a hotel, but comes with a bathroom down the hall. I've been surprised how nice many of these places I stayed were. If you're travelling solo and don't mind room/house sharing, sites like Servas, CouchSurfing.com and others give you a chance to stay with a person or family which is a good way to get to know the area, but maybe not what you are looking for. Lastly, there's just the MeFiBrainTrust. Change your profile zip code to one that is near where you are travelling and see who lives nearby. Ask them what they know about the area. I did this when I went to San Diego and I was not unhappy.
posted by jessamyn at 8:51 AM on March 9, 2004


Thanks Steve. I may give that a try.

Hotwire once set me up with a "suite" that was actually a conference room with only a pull-out sofa bed to sleep on. The hotel said the room was "approved" by Hotwire and refused to give me a room with an actual bed in it (they said they were full). This might have been bearable, but I had spent the whole day packing a moving van and was preparing to make a 12 hour drive the next day. I'm still bitter.
posted by Otis at 8:56 AM on March 9, 2004


laterooms.com
posted by nylon at 9:12 AM on March 9, 2004


Otis, listen to Steve. Call them up and say you are so-and-so who will be doing a lot of business with a new client in Minneapolis, and you'd like to give their hotel a try. Ask for the lowest possible rate and be firm but businesslike. If you don't get a good response, go on to the next hotel. Of course this won't work on a weekend with a huge convention in town or whatever...
posted by chaz at 11:05 AM on March 9, 2004


A friend recently told me that she just goes to priceline, picks the city and selects four-star as her requirement, then puts in a really low price, like $50 or $60, and it usually works in major cities that aren't LA or NYC.

I just tried it myself and got a great room rate in Vancouver.
posted by mathowie at 11:07 AM on March 9, 2004


The holy grail of Priceline bidding is the forum at BiddingforTravel.com. Just check to see what others bid, and then bid the same. You can literally hand-pick your exact price and hotel.
posted by vorfeed at 11:37 AM on March 9, 2004


I work taking hotel reservations. I'm the 1-800 number guy.

There are some groups (Entertainment, Quixtar) that get pretty good discounts. I'm not sure how you buy into them, but it involves getting a booklet of some kind. Sorry I can't be much help here, but I only handle the reservation side of things.

I wouldn't bother with AAA purely for hotel reservations. It's not often that I can't meet or beat the AAA rate with a publicly available rate.

Your best bet, in my experience, is to look a price up on the Internet and then call the 1-800 number. The person you talk to will probably have access to that rate and they will be a lot more knowledgeable about what kind of a room you're getting, what sort of amenities are available, etc.

Don't be afraid to ask if there's anything cheaper. Our goal is to get you to book and we'll do everything we can to help you out.

I'm not too sure how effective calling the hotel directly would be as I get many calls from people looking for discounts who were directed to me from the hotel itself. Most of them are independently operated as I understand it though, so you might have some luck there. And it wouldn't hurt.
posted by ODiV at 8:09 AM on March 10, 2004


Thanks for the insider advice ODiV, and thanks to everyone else for all the tips. I'm still looking around for that "Holy Grail" rate and will post the results if I find anything spectacular.
posted by Otis at 8:27 AM on March 10, 2004


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