Am I correct in thinking that hotels give cheaper prices if you book last-minute so that they are not "stuck" with empty rooms (during periods they don't have to many guests and a lot of free rooms available)?

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    in person? online? in a particular country? – Mark Mayo Mar 12 '15 at 8:01
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    We have a lot, of similar questions on this topic - you sure it's not covered in any of the answers? Just confirming. – Mark Mayo Mar 12 '15 at 8:10
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    (Not saying the question's 'wrong' and haven't voted to closed, I'm just trying to make it more useful and ideally replace 'best' as it's a semi-despised subjective word on this site ;) – Mark Mayo Mar 12 '15 at 8:12
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    Worldwide, the answer is probably not. In a city where there is good coverage from opaque travel sites, from last minute hotel specialists etc, and where you're sure there will be no last minute events, and when you really don't mind which hotel you're in - fairly often – Gagravarr Mar 12 '15 at 9:13
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    @pnuts No, although I must admit I don't know many golfers, famous or otherwise. – Relaxed Mar 12 '15 at 11:53

If you're using a booking engine such as booking.com, the rule of thumb says that the earlier the better, while it's possible that later on some hotels will offer campaign prices, or as you mentioned, you might catch some last-minute deals. Those are exceptions though, you should not hope for a significant save over a reservation booked well in advance. My suggestion is, in case you're certain about the travel dates, make your reservations as early as possible on the options with free cancellation, then later on check the website regularly to see whether it'd be beneficial to change your reservation. Mostly though, this will not result in a significant financial gain, rather finding better or more suitable hotels in the same price range.

  • I'm comparing prices on booking engines: couple of weeks in advance vs couple of days in advance. The latter tend to be significant cheaper (looking at low tourist season of course)... That being said, I haven't looked at the prices gains when booking months in advance because I usually don't know my travel dates that early... – user1073075 Mar 12 '15 at 9:53

The bigger online hotel booking sites (booking.com, agoda, hotels.com, etc) have a room block with each of their hotels, ie 4, 8, XX rooms held every night of the year. And when they accept your booking they assign one of those blocked rooms.

Depending on their contract with the hotel, they maybe required to pay for all those rooms even if they don't sell them. In these situations, they would discount the room at the last minute as some money is better than none.

But there is no guarantee there will be rooms available for this, so by waiting you risk having nothing.

Going direct to the hotel might find a last minute booking, but that is also not a sure thing. If the hotel has really low occupancy, they might try to discount and fill the rooms, but if they are moderately full they are not as motivated to sell at a loss.

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    Don't forget that there are also sites like HotelTonight (signup link) who sell spare rooms at the very last minute, often at hefty discounts, but only in certain cities, and only where there are some rooms left! – Gagravarr Mar 12 '15 at 13:31

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