5 Hacks To Get More Out Of Every Hotel Stay

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
People who choose to stay at a hotel when they travel are accustomed to certain niceties, like Egyptian cotton sheets or a concierge who greets you with a smile. The devil that transforms a stay from five-star to superstar, however, is in the details: We're talking about the hidden perks, from late checkout to a gratis continental breakfast.

With a good attitude, some clever maneuvering, and a bit of luck, you can score some of these extra benefits, too, no name-dropping required. We spoke to a coterie of travel pros — bloggers, app founders, and industry insiders — to find out their secrets to a more enjoyable hotel stay. Now all you have to do is waltz up to reception and have the vacation of your dreams.
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Take Risks & Try To Negotiate
If it's not high season for the hotel, just show up at the door — even without a reservation — and try to negotiate a deal on on the spot. If they have rooms available, they'll be eager to fill them at a discount. Booking directly with the hotel can also have its benefits, since some luxury hotels assume that guests who use third-party bookings sites (like Priceline or Travelocity) are just going for the biggest bargain.

Patrick Liotard-Vogt, chairman at ASmallWorld, points out that hotels pay a high commission to booking sites, so they have an incentive. They'll still earn more if they give you a reduced rate on the spot than they would if you booked through a travel website.
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Get Some Face-To-Face Time
Business is always better conducted in person, and that applies to getting hotels to show you a little extra love, too. "I find it much easier to get to the check-in desk early and ask if they can do anything special, compared to talking on the phone," said Carol Cain, blogger at Girl Gone Travel. "It helps if I'm extra nice about having to wait."

Charlotte Chen, cofounder of travel app Spottly and soon-to-be launched Wundrful, thinks you should always be specific about the amenities you're looking for, like bathtubs, which are usually found only in higher-end rooms. However, you're likely to be forgoing something else in return. So think it over: Free extra bed or a better view? Either way, it never hurts to ask — in person.
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Ask For A Corner Room
Always snatch up a corner room if any are available. Due to the structural layout of a building, these rooms generally have the most square footage and windows, while also offering the lowest noise level. It will feel like you have a nicer room — without actually paying for one. Also, it's worth finding out if the hotel has undergone any recent renovations. If so, request one of the newer rooms.
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Remember, Loyalty Goes A Long Way
Signing up for the hotel's membership program in advance can help you gain that special designation of VIP guest throughout your stay. Perks may include free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, and the most coveted of all: access to exclusive executive club lounges. Signing up for credit cards that come with travel and dining rewards is another way to make sure you're the first to know about special deals, says Sarah Gavin, head of communications at Expedia. Everyday purchases on the card will help accrue rewards for future trips. (Just be sure to read the fine print, avoid high-interest cards, and use credit responsibly.)

Expedia travel expert Courtney Scott says that checking in on social media sites can also unlock hidden perks. For example, members of the Starwood Preferred Guest rewards program get limited-time specials, like discounts at the hotel bar when they punch their virtual cards on Foursquare.
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A $20 Tip Can Be A Game-Changer
When all else fails, a fat tip wedged between your passport pages when you check in is a foolproof way to ensure good service — and then some. Tipping at reception is not all that common, so staff is extra-appreciative of those who do. The front desk agent holds the key to an array of goodies, like free room credits you can use toward the minibar, in-room movies, or a later checkout. All they need to do is tap a few extra buttons, so your token of appreciation can really make the difference.

The best accompaniment to a generous gratuity? A friendly smile and thanking the employee by name. On the flip side, addressing the staff by name when making a complaint about your stay can result in a swifter resolution, because it's a subtle reminder that you'll know who to report if you're forced to go to hotel management.
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