Rooms with jaw-dropping views usually come with jaw-dropping prices. But it’s possible to get a fabulous view without breaking the bank. In fact, I’m doing it at this moment: I’m on a river cruise on the Seine from Paris through Normandy, with an ever-changing veranda view of châteaux, farms, villages, vineyards, boats, bridges, and cities lit up at night—at a price lower than what a room in Paris with a similarly panoramic veranda would cost. River cruises are a value, but if hotels are your preference, here are seven strategies I’ve used to get a fabulous view for less:
- Split your hotel stay between two rooms.
Say you’re headed to a city hotel for a week. Book an inexpensive no-view room for the first five nights—when you’ll be so focused on seeing everything that you’ll barely be in the room anyway—and then upgrade to a fabulous-view room for the last two nights, so you can laze around and enjoy the vistas as the grand finale to your vacation. Sometimes, if the front desk knows you’re upgrading mid-stay and the hotel isn’t full, they might even upgrade you early for free.
- Book the least expensive room in a hotel with a panoramic rooftop.
Hotels with amazing rooftops—terraces that overlook all the action and where you can relax over breakfast, swim in the pool at sunset, and grab a cocktail late at night enveloped in the city’s lights—usually make it unnecessary to have those views in your room, since all you’re doing in the room is sleeping.
- Research the hotel’s different views by studying its layout and photos.
If you can’t find a good property map online, have the hotel fax or email you one. Search for the hotel on TripAdvisor and click to “Traveler photos” and “View from room” to study the assortment of possible vistas. Also click on “Room tips” for recommended room numbers with great views.
- If you’re celebrating a special occasion, mention it.
Say it’s your wedding anniversary or a milestone birthday. Smart hoteliers want to make that stay memorable; after all, you’ll be sharing stories and photos of it with friends for years to come, potentially spreading good PR for the property. So email either the general manager or the hotel staffer who responds to reviews on TripAdvisor to let him or her know that you’re coming to celebrate a special occasion. If you prefer for somebody with clout to V.I.P. you, there are powerful travel agents whose clients get the rooms with the best views. At the very least, mention the special occasion to the front desk at check-in.
- Call the hotel and speak with a human being.
If you can’t reach the general manager or aforementioned staffer, phone the hotel and make friends with the reservations manager. Ask about the pros and cons of the various views, and which rooms are most popular and why. Also ask the reservations manager which view is his or her personal favorite and why: Not only do you want intel, but you also want to establish a rapport so that your new friend will do what he or she can to help you get that special view.
- At check-in, ask to see the room first.
Especially in foreign countries, a small locally owned hotel may keep its best rooms for the regulars and assign its worst to those people it may never see again—like you. So, when you’re checking in, ask to see the room before you accept it. If the view is bad, go back to the front desk, explain why it’s not acceptable, and ask what’s available in another part of the building.
- Connect with the hotel on Instagram.
Luxury hotels are active on Instagram, and hoteliers want you to post photogenic images of their properties. So tag the hotel when posting photos; you never know where it might lead. If the property isn’t full, a smart hotelier just might want to give you a more photogenic room and view.