I’ve experienced first-hand what luxury travel is all about and what luxury accommodation in particular is all about, so I think I can safely say that I have some insightful perspective on just what money can buy you in terms of accommodation. With that in mind, in discussing how to get free accommodation, I’m really not referring to cheap accommodation that’s every bit worth it’s low or completely non-existent price tag.
Does Free Mean Free?
In this day and age there’s nothing really for free and this applies to accommodation as well. I know I sound like I’m contradicting myself, but just hear me out. Free doesn’t mean you don’t spend any money at all — you will have to still spend money, but it’s how you spend that money which can result in you landing some free accommodation. So it’s in a sense “freer” than what you’d usually pay, but money will change hands nevertheless, it just changes hands in more of an indirect way.
Okay, so now that that’s clear (somewhat, I guess), I can get into the actual channels through which you can get free accommodation.
Online budget booking platforms
I know, I know — for someone who usually caters to the organisational aspect of their trip at the very last minute, making use of online booking platforms reeks of being more of an organised traveller, doesn’t it? Not exactly… You see I usually book accommodation at the very last minute as well, using online booking platforms, particularly the budget online booking platforms. Now this is not how you get free accommodation, but this is how you get last-minute deals which have a knack for being so low that it’s almost a complete giveaway. Seriously, you can get prices which are slashed by up to 75%, just so that the hotel, motel, inn, hostel etc, can bump up its occupation numbers. Plus, you might just come across a promo code or two for a platform like Booking.com, which can give you discounts even if you may not book at the last minute.
Online budget booking platforms
Wait, I already mentioned online budget booking platforms, didn’t I? Well I’m mentioning them again and this time it’s for the killer blow of actually getting free accommodation. So on the rare, but oh so precious occasions when I travel with both my best friend Santi and younger brother Rory, I earn more “loyalty points” of sorts which form an inherent part of these online budget booking platforms. So basically you just sign up to the platform to get discounts, but with each next booking you make you automatically get enrolled into their ongoing loyalty programme, whatever they may officially call it themselves.
So what happened in my case was that after completing five bookings, my sixth one was free, albeit at one of the few participating hotels. Nevertheless, it was completely free and it came with nothing less than what the regular price for the room would afford me access to.
This one is quite simple really — basically just sign up to the traveller’s programme of every airline you use and you will accumulate traveller’s miles quite quickly if you travel just two or more times per year — enough to earn you a free stay at one of many participating hotels when you decide to redeem those points.