If you’re eager to save money on a hotel room, it’s important to be aware of all aspects of the market: there are dirt cheap motels, mid-range inns, and the luxury hotels all fighting for your buck – on weekends or anytime. But somewhere amid this hierarchy lies a special breed known as extended stay hotels. Although they cater primarily to business travelers and are set up like suites or studio apartments to accommodate longer residencies, these extended stay hotels – like Extended Stay America – often have competitive nightly charges during the week and downright cheap rates on weekends.
Extended Stay Hotels: Getting Cheap Rates for 1-2 Weekend Nights
The best time to book a shorter reservation at an extended stay hotel is the weekend. “Jeff,” a front desk employee at one such hotel explained, “Most of our business is Monday through Friday people or Sunday through Thursday people, and come weekend time, it’s like we’ve always got vacancy.” Though competitive rates are available all the time at most extended stay hotels, Friday and Saturday nights are the best chances to get a super cheap room – especially on short notice.
On condition of anonymity, “Jeff” recommended using Priceline midweek, checking out rates, and trying the name-your-price feature. If you’re not keen on Priceline, of course, you can always check weekend rates at extended stay hotels against those of more conventional lodging on mega-sites like Travelocity – or drive in and inquire if you’re roadtripping with less planning. He explained that some savvy guests at his metro area location procure weekend rooms (via the web) for as little as $40 or $45 a night while other travelers unwittingly go to less comfortable chains and pay more because they assume extended stay places will be too expensive. On the contrary, the fact that extended stay hotels cater to business travelers during the week leaves them with an awkward weekend gap that, depending on the location, they often struggle to get even half-full.
Extended Stay Hotels: What to Expect
The average extended stay hotel resembles a normal hotel room but is set up like a studio apartment with a small outfitted kitchen and other amenities that might seem unnecessary for one- or two-night leisure travelers. You might not need the microwave or office-sized desk, but chances are you won’t be paying any more than you would elsewhere – and as we’ve seen, you may even be paying less. It’s the equivalent of getting a small SUV from a car rental place even though you only wanted a regular sedan: you’re getting more space and equipment than you need, but you’ll accept it if there’s a deal involved. The one cutback that you may notice with an extended stay hotel, however, is more limited housekeeping. If you’re staying for two nights, say Friday and Saturday, don’t expect maid service in between.
Extended Stay Hotels: What are the brands?
The most obvious and omnipresent is the aforementioned Extended Stay America, which has clearly built its brand to cover the extended stay niche. I’ve personally spent a couple weekends with this chain and found it to be a clean, pleasant place to stay for the same price as (or less than) more conventional competitors. There’s also Homestead Studios and Studio 6, the less grubby suite version of – you guessed it – Motel 6. Amerisuites and Staybridge Suites constitute part of the market as well, but they are pricier, keeping up with more expensive regular hotels.