It’s difficult to get a decent, cheap staycation in Singapore, where the average hotel rates are the third highest in Asia Pacific. At an average price of $236 per night, you might be better off grabbing a cheap budget flight to Bangkok and enjoying a much nicer hotel for less than half that price.
But unless you’ve got a long weekend, going overseas isn’t generally worth the hassle. So what are your options if you want to save more on staycations in Singapore?
Below I’ll discuss four things that can potentially save you some dough.
1. Last Minute Aggregators
HotelQuickly and Booking Now are OTAs that sells last minute hotel inventory at markdown prices. The downside is that you can’t book too far in advance so you can’t really plan. While this might be a problem if you’re travelling overseas, I think it’s perfectly ok for a staycation (and given that Singapore is so small anyway…)
HotelQuickly lets you book up to six days in advance of your stay (It used to only let you book a maximum of one day in advance. I’m assuming the best deals will come with bookings made on the actual day itself though as hotels get more desperate to dump their inventory). Booking Now, run by Booking.com only allows you to book same-day rooms.
I generally find Booking Now to be much less user-friendly than HotelQuickly. It only shows you one hotel at a time, making it more difficult to do quick price comparisons (versus HotelQuickly’s interface which allows you to quickly scroll up and down to see other options)
HotelQuickly on the left, Booking Now on the right
A further word of warning- although there may be good deals to be had through last minute aggregators, it does pay to check the official hotel site to see what the going price is for the period you’re looking at. Based on an unscientific sample I found several instances when the official site was even cheaper than the last minute aggregator. Don’t get sucked into the discounts the app shows- very often they’re quoting you a discount from the rack rate or some other unrealistically high benchmark that no one would have paid anyway.
I tried looking at same-day availability for a Saturday-Sunday night stay. In general, Booking Now’s deals were almost useless. HotelQuickly came out slightly ahead of the official website, but only by very small margins. It could be that I was just looking at the wrong hotels, of course. If you want to try out HotelQuickly you can use my signup code (AWONG380) and get S$25 off your booking.
[wpsm_comparison_table id=”16″ class=””]
Overall, I’d say that there’s definitely value to be found here, be sure to double check the price represents a genuine saving.
2. Coupons and Cashback
Assuming that loyalty isn’t an issue and you’re ok booking through OTAs, you should also check out the Hotel Deals thread on Flyertalk that has a well-curated list of the latest codes that can be used with various OTAs. Note that as with all OTA deals, restrictions and exclusions will apply. If you’re confident your staycation bill will be more than US$200 you can get US$35 off using TravelPony and my referral link.
These discount codes can be used in conjunction with a cashback portal like Shopback and TopCashBack to save some additional money. Read more about cashback portals here and here. You’re generally looking at between 5-10% additional cashback for most OTAs.
Shopback is generally easier to cash out because they have an option to do a bank transfer to your local (Singapore) bank account. TopCashBack may be slightly more generous with the rebate %, but they’ll only cash out via Paypal or Amazon gift cards. Cashing out is free, but Paypal will charge you a fee if you want to transfer your balance to a local bank account.
3. Priceline and Hotwire
Priceline and Hotwire are opaque booking channels that let you pay discount rates for hotels, provided you’re ok with not knowing the name of the hotel beforehand. You can list the star level and area you want to stay in. Have a read of the primers for Priceline and Hotwire to get you up to speed.
When it comes to Singapore, I find Priceline to be slightly more useful because it divides Singapore into 13 different zones, versus only nine for Hotwire. This gives you a greater degree of control over deciding where you’ll stay.
Hotwire is offering 4.5 star hotels in Singapore for ~US$125 (before taxes). That means you can probably try bidding just below that threshold for Priceline in order to score a nice hotel for cheap.
I generally prefer Priceline over Hotwire because even though it takes a bit more work to feel out the right bid zones, you can save more. Remember that both Priceline and Hotwire can be used via cashback sites for further savings.
4. Buy a room from someone who can’t use theirs
Suppose you’ve booked a non-cancellable reservations in a hotel but for whatever reason can’t show up for it. Short of calling up the hotel to beg them for an exception, you’re out of luck.
Enter Roomer. Roomer lets you list your hotel reservation online (at a discount of course) for someone else to take up. What this means on the buy side is that you can take someone else’s distressed hotel reservation for a discount.
I was surprised to read this was possible because I thought hotels would prefer to maximise their revenue by selling the same room twice (i.e. if you can’t show up, too bad! We’ll take your hotel room and sell it to someone else, getting 2X the revenue for the same room ). But apparently Roomer handles the entire transfer process, getting the name on the reservation changed for you so all you need to do is show up.
This sounds great in theory, but when I actually went to check prices I noticed that Roomer wasn’t pricing any different from other OTAs. I believe what’s happening is that when Roomer doesn’t have any distressed inventory to sell, it reverts to being a regular OTA.
I tried searching for another city, one that I knew would probably have distressed inventory. I think if you see a green logo with savings and a cut price, that means the room is being sold by a 3rd party. If you see just a regular blue button, then Roomer is functioning like a regular OTA. So in the example below, Ramada Plaza would be a distressed sale and DoubleTree by Hilton Metropolitan would not. I’m just guessing here.
I think Roomer is still a relatively recent innovation so it’s not very widespread in Singapore. This is definitely one to watch for the future though. You might also be interested in another similar service called CancelOn, but again that one’s not very widespread yet.
If you want a good staycation in Singapore and you don’t have hotel points, be prepared to pay a steep premium. But hopefully the four tips above can help you save a bit more. I personally find a lot more value in taking an additional day off and heading to Bangkok though, given the abundance of cheap flights and hotels there.
Any other tips for saving on staycations?