Priced out of a vacation? Find excellent hotel deals at these destinations across the US

Jul 17, 2021

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I’ve found some incredible hotel deals during the coronavirus pandemic. But as travel has restarted and restrictions have relaxed in the U.S., weekly reports from hotel analytics company STR show that the average daily rate of domestic hotels is slowly increasing. The July 4-10, 2021 period even showed a 5.4% increase in the average daily rate at U.S. hotels compared with a comparable week in 2019.

Hotels in some markets are currently charging much higher rates than usual. After all, there’s significant pent-up demand in select markets and travelers who are willing to splurge. For example, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) published a June 2021 report showing that Miami hotels see a 31% increase in revenue per available room when comparing May 2019 to May 2021.

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But, the average daily rate is primarily increasing in leisure destinations. In particular, AHLA’s June 2021 report showed the revenue per available room when you compare May 2021 to May 2019 was 33% lower for airport hotels and 52% lower for urban hotels. And across the top 25 U.S. hotel markets, AHLA’s report shows that seven markets are still in a depression while 14 are in a recession. After all, these markets typically relied on business and convention travel.

Of course, all this data is backward-looking. But, if you’re looking for a great deal on an upcoming hotel stay, depressed urban markets can provide some excellent opportunities. Here are the seven largest U.S. markets that were depressed in May 2021, according to AHLA’s June 2021 report:

  • San Francisco, CA: $62 revenue per available room in May 2021 compared to $203 in May 2019 for a 70% decrease.
  • Boston, MA: $61 revenue per available room in May 2021 compared to $184 in May 2019 for a 67% decrease.
  • Washington, DC: $51 revenue per available room in May 2021 compared to $145 in May 2019 for a 65% decrease.
  • New York, NY: $95 revenue per available room in May 2021 compared to $249 in May 2019 for a 62% decrease.
  • Chicago, IL: $52 revenue per available room in May 2021 compared to $126 in May 2019 for a 59% decrease.
  • Seattle, WA: $54 revenue per available room in May 2021 compared to $122 in May 2019 for a 56% decrease.
  • Minneapolis, MN: $40 revenue per available room in May 2021 compared to $81 in May 2019 for a 51% decrease.

Revenue per available room represents a hotel’s ability to fill its rooms. As such, hotels in these cities likely saw less revenue per available room due to decreased occupancy rates and/or room rates.

Many of these cities were popular with business travelers and groups pre-pandemic. But, now travelers can snag good deals in some of these cities. For example, if you have The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you can book luxury hotel stays through Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) program. And you can currently snag a third, fourth or fifth night free at several hotels in the cities listed above when you book your stay through Amex FHR. Check out all the current offers on Amex FHR’s offers page.

You can also find some attractive rates even if you want to book directly with the hotel or through an online travel agency rewards program. For example, a quick search for a two-night stay in San Francisco late next week gave the following results with Hilton Honors:

Hilton hotels in San Francisco
(Screenshot courtesy of hilton.com)

Of course, what is a good deal varies across travelers. I’d likely book the Hilton San Francisco Finacial District for this stay. And, although I could redeem 34,000 Hilton Honors points per night for this stay, I’d book a cash rate. After all, I’d only get 0.45 cents per point when redeeming Hilton Honors points.

As travel recovers, there are plenty of hotel deals to be found. Of course, you can find hotel deals in international destinations where travel is still restricted or only starting to reopen. But domestically, you’ll typically find the best deals in urban destinations that hosted many business travelers and meetings pre-pandemic.

However, this trend will shift as travel continues to recover. So book your urban vacation now while prices are low. If you book a refundable rate, you can always rebook later if prices drop.

Featured image by Don White/Getty Images.

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