Get an even better discount by prepaying a day before your cancellation deadline
Late last year, Sean found an incredible flight deal to Iceland for a long weekend in January. He’d visited Reykjavík once ten years earlier, but our trip together would be my first time there — and obviously Eliza’s too. Once we locked in our airfare, we wasted no time finding a hotel. Since we would be traveling with a baby in the middle of winter, we agreed we’d appreciate a warm and cozy place. We booked a room at a hotel that was pricier than we’d usually feel comfortable spending.
Flash forward a few months to one week before our trip, and we had some second thoughts about that. Turns out our baby loved being out and about and since we only had a couple of days there, we knew we’d want to see a lot more than the inside of a hotel.
So I looked again online using Hotels.com and found a more reasonable option for the same dates. It was still quite expensive at US$202/night, but the reviews were great and it’s no secret that Iceland isn’t known for being cheap. Compared to the US$280/night rate for our original booking, we were pleased to have a better deal, totaling US$404 for our two nights:
I noted that the hotel allowed free cancellation was until 1/11/18 at 7pm GMT, two days before our arrival. At that date and time, it ends up being the same risk to book a ‘non-refundable’ hotel as it is to keep the same booking. (Read the fine print of your cancellation policy. Ours said: “If you change or cancel your booking after 7:00 PM, 01/11/18 ((GMT), you will be charged a 100% fee.”)
After doing a little sleuthing on January 10th, a mere 3 days before our trip, I canceled the above booking, only to go ahead and book the exact same hotel and room with a non-refundable rate of US$152/night, a total of $100 less over two nights, netting out to 25% in savings.
In a country as expensive as Iceland, saving US$100 is no joke. It’ll buy you at least one coffee (and maybe a pastry down the street). Still, our short trip was worth our while and we can’t wait to get back. It pays to look around, both when originally booking your trip and then a few days before you go. You might end up with a steal, or you’ll at least feel reassured that you were able to get the best possible price.
PS Make sure to visit the Blue Lagoon while in Iceland, even if it’s touristy and even if you have a baby in tow.