Negotiate For Great Hotel Rates

Need a hotel? If you haven't booked one in the last couple of years, you're in for a pleasant surprise. With the weakened economy, rates are way down and empty rooms are way up, so there are great deals to be had.

But Consumer Reports says knowing what to ask can get you an even bigger savings.

The Ritz Carlton is plenty ritzy and not surprisingly gets high marks in a Consumer Reports survey of 27,000 subscribers. But moderately priced hotels like the Wingate by Wyndham...the Drury Inn...and Hampton Inn and Suites scored well, too.

And Consumer Reports says just about anywhere you stay you can get a good deal.

Tod Marks of Consumer Reports says, "In most markets there's no reason to pay full price for a hotel room these days."

Subscribers surveyed say it pays to haggle. 80% who tried got a lower room rate or a room upgrade.

Here's how Tod Marks negotiated big savings at the Sheraton Society Hill Hotel in Philadelphia.

Marks says, "Can you give me your best available rate?"

That initial hotel quote turned out to be $209. But Tod says you need to go further.

"Do you offer discounts such as a AAA discount?"

That dropped the room rate to $177 and it was refundable. But Tod didn't stop there.

"And the best available non-refundable rate?"

That nonrefundable rate: $159. But Tod kept going.

'Do you have any limited-time offers?"

That price wound up at $134 dollars, with free parking thrown in.

And Consumer Reports says you can often get and even better deal if you book at discount websites like Hotwire or Priceline.

Marks says, "The downside is that you don't know the identity of the chain you'll be staying at until after you complete your booking."

Turns out that Sheraton Society Hill Hotel room on Hotwire went...not for $134...but $109.

Consumer Reports also rated bargain hotel chains. Unfortunately, most did very poorly in the ratings. The only standout, Microtel Inn and Suites.

Rooms there range from around $55-$80.

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