July 14, 2024
saving money on luxury hotel room

Comedy writer Gary Janetti’s latest book ‘We Are Experiencing a Slight Delay’ is stacked with travel tips and hot takes. This might be his spiciest one yet.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
In the hilarious and often touching collection We Are Experiencing a Slight Delay, New York Times bestselling author, television writer, and producer Gary Janetti takes us with him on travels across the globe.

I’m going to share with you a little tip, something I used to do when I was traveling on the cheap, but wanted to stay somewhere fabulous. As an example, I’m going to use a trip I took to Hawaii while I was working as a bellman at the Paramount Hotel in New York City. I was dating someone at the time (all right, I might have been living with them. Who remembers? Everything is a blur before Brad), and we decided to go to Hawaii. (This person will now disappear from the essay.)

I was not good at making money then, but I was good at spending it. My entire livelihood depended on the largesse of strangers. (Once, I got a two-hundred-dollar tip, and everything I spent for the next few weeks, I attributed to that found money. Dinners, clothes, an airline ticket, you name it. That tip probably ended up costing me several thousand dollars.) I did not have a ton of extra money lying around. (Actually, I was in debt—I had zero extra money.) And what little I had saved I used on traveling. (I had saved nothing, each trip sinking me a little farther into debt.)

Author photo by Benjamin Askinas, both images courtesy of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Like all gay men, I wanted to stay in hotels I couldn’t afford. Places I had seen only in the glossy pages of a magazine. (I miss magazines. I know they still exist, but not really.) Condé Nast Traveler was my bible, and I mentally planned each trip as if I were a Rockefeller or Getty. Hotel du Cap, Cipriani, Claridge’s—I was going to stay at all of them. In my mind, at least. But I did eventually come up with a little work-around while traveling without, well, money.

First off, locate someplace cheap but not disgusting. I found it best to not book anything until I arrived at my destination. I know this seems scary to most of you, but believe me, it can work to your advantage.

On this particular trip to Hawaii (with aforementioned unnamed person that I was kind of living with), I stayed in a type of bed-and-breakfast place. And by “type of” bed-and-breakfast place, I mean a bed-and-breakfast. Typically, I would avoid a bed-and-breakfast like the plague. (Even then, when I had nothing but debt and a dream, I was repulsed. Eating breakfast with strangers is perhaps the worst travel concept ever conceived.) But this one was charming, with beautiful grounds and ocean views, for a fraction of what you’d pay for at an actual hotel. I had read about it in a guide book (pre-internet, I used to research travel like Woodward and Bernstein poring over the Watergate papers).

I went in person to see it, not booking it in advance, to make sure it lived up to its description. (You couldn’t look at photos online then; you had to picture things, like, in your head.) Yes, I risked its being fully booked, but things weren’t really fully booked before Instagram existed. You could always wrangle up something, and with the front desk clerk standing in front of you, the prices were usually a bit more flexible. I would usually ask to see every room available, and then ask for the cheapest one. And then ask to be upgraded from that one. I mean, the room was empty; they’d just shown it to me. Also, if you ask nicely, you’d be surprised what people will give you. And if you happen to be young, your chances are exponentially much higher. Try it. And this isn’t even the travel tip.

Okay, so here’s the tip: Let’s say you’re away for one week. For six of those nights, you will stay in cheap lodgings. But for the one other night, you will stay at—in keeping with the example of my trip to Hawaii with you-know-who—the Four Seasons. Again, you book the cheapest room. But you arrive at 9:00 a.m. Your room will not be ready, but not to worry, you will store your bags and have use of all the hotel’s facilities for the day. Then, the following morning, at what should be your included breakfast (Make sure it’s included! You can always get free breakfast out of them!), you treat it as though it’s brunch, loading your plate with enough to get you through the day. Any kind of food or beverage costs a fortune at these five-star hotels, but they usually offer enough free amenities for you to gorge yourself without having to actually spend any money.

The next day, you do not check out at noon. (I always ask for a 2:00 p.m. checkout wherever I am, and then leave at three. Just tell the front desk you’ll be down in a minute when they call. It works, trust me. And if they say they can’t give you a 2:00 p.m. but they can give you 1:00, say thank you, and then still come down at 3:00.)

Then, after you check out, you store your bags again and use the pool, the beach, and all the hotel has to offer for the rest of the day. Often these places have free sunset drinks and snacks. Make sure to stay for those. If handled correctly, this could be your dinner. So essentially for the cost of one night, you will get two full days. I usually saved this treat for the end of the trip because once you’ve stayed at a Four Seasons in Hawaii, you won’t want to go back to your now-shitty bed-and-breakfast. (And, for any young person traveling today, these two days are when you should log all your content—giving the impression you’ve spent your entire vacation at said resort, when in fact you’ve only been there a night. This is a real money saver.)

From the book: WE ARE EXPERIENCING A SLIGHT DELAY by Gary Janetti. Copyright © 2024 by Gary Janetti. Reprinted courtesy of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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Gary Janetti is a New York Times bestselling author, television writer, and producer.

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