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There is a lot of information online (including at InsideFlyer!) on how to maximise value when staying at chain hotels – whether that’s through bonus points, discount rates, status benefits or myriad other ways.
But what about those stays when there are no chain hotels, when you just fancy something a bit different, or maybe (like many people) you simply do not travel enough to make finding out about traditional hotel loyalty programmes worthwhile?
This series of posts is designed to show that you don’t have to miss out on extra value, just because you’re not staying with one of the big chains!
Part Five: Secret Escapes
Secret Escapes advertises heavily in the UK these days, but for anyone not yet familiar with “the worst-kept secret in luxury travel”, it’s basically an online travel agent that negotiates discounted rates with a range of specially selected hotels throughout the world for a temporary sale period.
New hotels are added each week, and then become part of a ‘flash sale’ for about ten days. You need to sign up to see the deals, and they guarantee that the rates featured during their flash sales are the best available anywhere online. The rates often include bonuses like a welcome drink, free breakfast or late check-out too.
Although I certainly wouldn’t take the percentage discount they claim to offer at face value, I’ve used Secret Escapes a few times now and regularly check the new properties on offer each week, so I can say with some confidence that the rates are usually good.
The offers available change all the time, but here’s a few examples available at the time of writing to help illustrate the sort of deals you can get:
‘Club Room’ with lounge access at the 5* Hyatt Regency Dubai for dates between May to August for £99.00 rather than £166.00 direct with Hyatt or £125.00+ at other discounters. Saving at least 20%, and 40% cheaper than booking direct.
£89.00 for a Standard Room with Breakfast and a glass of prosecco at the 4* Radisson Blu Durham, rather than £129.20 for the same room without breakfast and no prosecco everywhere else online. Saving at 30%+ and getting free breakfast and a drink too.
£110.00 for a Standard Room with Breakfast and a Three Course Welcome Dinner at the 5* Villa Ottone on Elba in May, rather than £159.00 for the same room elsewhere – without the welcome dinner. Saving 30%, and you get a free dinner.
Deluxe Room with Breakfast and a glass of Prosecco at the 4* Thistle Euston Hotel in London for £99.00-£109.00 in March, even on dates when the cheapest equivalent is £160.00, without breakfast or a drink. Saving 30%+, free breakfast and drink.
I find the easiest way to look through the hotels on sale is to click on the ‘Map View’ icon at the top right of the search page. Occasionally it doesn’t show one or two of the hotels though, so if you have somewhere specific in mind rather than just browsing, I’d use the normal search.
What makes Secret Escapes particularly compelling for a first time user is their generous ‘refer a friend’ scheme.
By signing up to Secret Escapes using our referral link, you will get £15.00 off your first booking of £100.00 or more.
An extra £15.00 off what is already a good deal is a great deal!
Even more interestingly (particularly if you are a couple or usually travel with a friend), is that as well as you receiving £15 for being referred, the person who refers you also gets a £25.00 credit after your first booking (so thank you for using our link!). All referral credits expire after 12 months.
How to make the most of the ‘refer a friend’ offer:
Imagine that you spot a hotel you like the look of that costs £105.00 per night and you fancy two nights away with your partner.
First, sign up through a referral link (but don’t book anything yet!), and then refer your partner/friend from your account, so each account has £15.00 credit.
Next, book the first night using the second person’s Secret Escapes account, and they will be charged £90.00 (£105 – £15 credit = £90).
At this point, an additional £25 credit will be automatically added to the first person’s account, for referring your partner who has now made a booking
Finally, book the second night using your original account, which should now have £40 credit in it (£15 + £25, do check it has been credited properly first), and you will be charged £65.00 (£105 – £40 credit).
In total, your two nights will cost £155.00 rather than £210.00 – an additional 26% discount off an already discounted rate!
To sum up, considering the amount it seems to spend on marketing, you could be forgiven for assuming that Secret Escapes is all style over substance – but the truth is that it actually offers some excellent deals and is well worth keeping an eye on.
When you factor in the generous ‘refer a friend’ programme, assuming they have a hotel on sale in a place you want to visit, they can be extremely hard to beat.
The worst kept secret in luxury travel? – I don’t know about that, but definitely worth signing up for and having a quick look!