Whether you’re traveling for business or spending a long weekend away, here’s how to get the most from your next hotel stay: 

  • First: Shop online, but book by phone. Lisa Gill is the senior travel editor for Condé Nast Publications, and she says that you should always call the property where you plan to stay and ask if the manager can “better” the online rate. Hotels have to pay a commission if you book elsewhere. So they might match the online deal and discount the room or throw in perks like free parking to close the deal. 

  • Another tip for a better hotel stay: Arrive early. Industry insiders say that the most expensive rooms are vacant the most often. And that means travelers who show up in the morning are likely to be given an upgrade at no extra charge because the pricier room was empty the night before and is ready for check-in. It also means they still have your lower-price room to rent to a last-minute arrival who may not want to pay the higher rate.  

  • You should also post the reasons you’re excited about your stay on the hotel’s Facebook page. It’s great PR for the hotel and travel expert Gill says that a compliment will typically earn you an upgrade. And if you’re celebrating an event like an anniversary or birthday, call the front desk to let them know before you arrive. In most cases, they’ll treat you like a VIP. 

  • Finally, let’s talk about the star rating system. Hotel expert Anthony Melchiorri says that traditional hotel rating systems aren’t based on service. They’re based on physical features like the size of the room and amenities like pools and jacuzzis. He says that guests should expect great service in any hotel, and if you don’t get it, lodge a complaint with the manager. You can also post a negative online review. After all, even at a four-star hotel, if the guests give it one star, they’re going to lose business.