With soft-as-a-cloud beds, sweet-smelling soaps and elegant surrounds, five star stays serve up a generous slice of hotel heaven. But the prices can be sheer hell. By Tiana Templeman.

1. Sign up for savings
Travellers who sign up for eNewsletters to receive advance notice of upcoming specials and great deals know that spam can be tasty. Large hotel groups offer the most variety, but small is beautiful too. A stay at one of the boutique Baillie Lodges is normally out of most people’s price range (Kangaroo Island’s admittedly beautiful Southern Ocean Lodge starts at $1800 per night) but they have an on-line newsletter with deals that are steals. No doubt their phones rang hot when a tour group cancelled at short notice and empty rooms were offered to eNews subscribers for around $500 per night for two people, including food and wine!

2. Timing is everything
Sunday is often the cheapest night – so, for short breaks, consider taking your extra day off on a Monday instead of a Friday. Another option is to stay at city hotels on weekends when the business travellers have gone home and visit weekend leisure getaways during the week. For example, at the time of writing, Peppers (www.peppers.com.au) had a midweek special of $190 per couple per night at Peppers Anchorage at Port Stephens, which equates to more than 40 percent off the cheapest weekend rate. Not only is the rate substantially cheaper, you’d also likely have the place to yourself.

3. Holiday with the boss
If plenty of corporate travellers in your office stay at five star hotels, then you can too as companies pay up to 70 percent off the standard rack rate for accommodation at properties which have cut them a deal based on volume. Ask the person who books company travel for names of preferred hotels at your destination of choice, then call the hotel direct and book a room using your company’s corporate rate. Doing this costs the boss nothing but can save you a fortune.

4. Package deals
As economic times get tougher, so does competition. Diligent marketers have to work hard to come up with promotional offers to get warm bodies into beds. Consumers are the winners as these hotel packages frequently offer unbelievable value, along with “added extras” and bargain room rates. A romance package available at Swissôtel Sydney is a case in point: for $359, guests receive overnight accommodation in an Executive Floor room, strawberries dipped in Swiss chocolate and a bottle of Moët, daily breakfast plus evening drinks and canapés in the Club Lounge, and dinner for two in the restaurant. It’s enough to put anyone in the mood for romance, especially when you consider that the room-only rate for Executive Floor is $329. The champagne alone is worth more than the $30 price difference.

5. Shhh, it’s a secret
Secret Hotels are hotels on Lastminute.com.au with rates so low suppliers don’t want to reveal who they are. Five star Secret Hotels are particularly good value as the higher rack rate allows for deep discounting. A general location along with available facilities is revealed in an online description but the name of the hotel remains hidden until after you’ve booked. A Secret Hotel is a great opportunity to inject some excitement and mystery into your life (or not, as it’s often possible to correctly guess the hotel, which comes in handy). After the booking has been made, you’ll receive an email confirming details – including the name and the address of the hotel you’ve reserved.

And for a bonus tip, if your stay is to mark a special occasion, don’t be shy about contacting the hotel to let them know how much you’re looking forward to celebrating it at their property. We’re not suggesting you should look for (or expect) a hand-out but ask for suggestions on how the hotel could make your stay extra special and you’ll likely discover it’s the staff who are truly five star. 


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