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How soon to book hotel?

Which San Francisco hotels are on sale?
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Williston, Ohio
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How soon to book hotel?

We are starting to plan a trip to SF, May 17-23. I'm dismayed by seeing "no rooms available" or "only one room left". Are these ploys? It seems like I should have plenty of time. We will rely totally on public transportation; and want to see baseball at AT&T plus in Oakland, Alcatraz, Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, bike or walk Golden Gate Bridge, etc. We are thinking Union Square is the best location for this? Also we can't afford anything too pricey (I'd like to stay in the $150 range)--but safe & clean is a must. Currently I'm thinking the Baldwin. Would that fit our criteria? If I book now and decide to cancel, does that usually go OK? I realize I'm asking a lot of questions here but hope you all can help me as I plan.

San Diego
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1. Re: How soon to book hotel?

It sounds like you are using 3rd party sites to book the hotel??

Have you looked on the hotel web site itself???

When the 3rd party sites like Expedia run out of the number of rooms they have been given to sell the hotel itself may well still have rooms!

You need to read the policy on cancellations listed on which ever web site you are using. I always book and use my credit card to hold the res withOUT paying for the room. The web site will tell you if you are booking a cancelable rate or a pre paid no cancel rate.

San Francisco
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2. Re: How soon to book hotel?

May 19 is Bay to Breakers -- a huge footrace which usually draws close to 60-80,000 -- many of those from out of town. There are also a couple of medium sized conventions in town about that time.

What hotels were showing no availability?

Anyway, the Baldwin is a very good choice for a budget hotel. And if you book directly with the hotel you usually you may cancel within 1-3 days of arrival without penalty. But check the hotel's cancellation policy and certainly don't opt for a prepaid, cheaper rate if you want the cancellation option.

Santa Cruz...
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3. Re: How soon to book hotel?

Good advice from Riff M and Sal.

We currently have five reservations for hotels in the city....two in January, one in March and two in May. I agree that it is risky to use third party booking agents and assume their records of hotel vacancies are accurate. The hotels release a certain number of rooms to these booking sites, but not all of their rooms.

Our reservations were made directly with the hotels and the January reservations were made last November.

It is important, in San Francisco, to make your reservations as soon as you know when you need them, and if you run into "no vacancies" to deal directly with the hotel.

San Francisco...
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4. Re: How soon to book hotel?

Many Hotels in San Francisco make rooms available around six months ahead (from comments we've seen on the forum). Some people booking very early such as a year in advance don't always see the best rates or some things may not be available if the rooms haven't been released for booking yet.

Booking for May 2013, you would not encounter a problem with booking too early. Sometimes the booking sites such as hotels.com loudly announce that there is only one room left at a hotel. Like Puter said, this number may be only the rooms that site has left and the hotel itself or other booking sites might show a different number of rooms. I'm sure they also do this to encourage you to book with them for a hotel you're looking at.

There are some extremely busy times when most of the rooms in very central areas will get booked and then prices for remaining rooms go sky high or they are just not available anymore. San Francisco hotel prices may also be higher to start with than you'd see in other cities since it is an expensive city and also a very popular tourist and convention destination. At almost any time of year, I'd consider rooms below $150 a night to be on the low-moderate to budget range.

The Baldwin is a respectable budget hotel in a good central location.

If I were you, I would probably book something soon. If you get a refundable booking then the terms will say when you book and also how soon you need to cancel ahead of your stay. With a refundable rate, you can keep looking and then cancel that booking if you find a hotel you like better.

Some hotels or sites will even list the same hotels at two different prices. A non-refundable rate may be less expensive than the refundable rate. However if your plans change or something happens, the non-refundable rate may cost more and you may be out all or some of your money for not sticking to your booking dates.

I've booked both ways at different times and you need to weigh the cost savings of non-refundable rates against the chance you may want or need to change your booking. Non-refundable rates on some sites will also charge your credit card the full account right away, but refundable bookings may not change your card the full amount until your stay.

Have a nice trip.

Williston, Ohio
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5. Re: How soon to book hotel?

I've taken your advice and booked at the Baldwin. I'm able to cancel up to 2 days prior, so will keep looking. It was $155 per night plus tax. Do you think I'll be able to do any better?

San Francisco...
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6. Re: How soon to book hotel?

When I looked online, I saw little available for all your nights in the Union Square area for your budget, so I think you made the right decision to book while something was available. I checked both Hotels.com and the hotelres.com site some here recommend.

Like RamblinSal said, the Bay to Breakers race is probably taking a lot of hotel rooms that weekend.

There are some common budget hotels we see come up such as Grant, Baldwin, Cornell, Mayflower, des Arts. You may be able to find availability or better rates by checking their web sites or calling them directly rather than going through a hotel booking site, but nothing is guaranteed.

For example I checked the des Arts and their site says they have a queen room with a private bath for $99 a night (7 nights minimum stay). www.sfhoteldesarts.com/reservations.php While this is 1 night longer than you need, 7 nights at $99 ($693) is still cheaper than 6 nights at $155 ($930). This option might make sense for you to extend your trip for less money or just lose the money for the last night. I'm not sure of their booking policies.

My guess is that you won't find a hugely better rate for your dates in the Union Square area with a stay over that weekend on the major hotel aggregator sites. I didn't see much on hotels.com for example.

Have a great trip.

Limerick...
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7. Re: How soon to book hotel?

Do not wait to make your Alcatraz reservations.

You can book 90 days in advance or less.

Here is link to official site.

http://www.alcatrazcruises.com

8. Re: How soon to book hotel?

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