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​11 hotel secrets only insiders know

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By CameronHuddleston/GOBankingRates

The price you pay for a hotel room can vary greatly depending on the property, its location and when you stay. On average, the daily rate for U.S. hotels was $120 in 2015, according to Statista, an online statistics company.

But you don't have to pay the going rate if you know the insider tricks on how to get the best hotel prices while avoiding extra hotel fees.

Click through for a look at hotel secrets only insiders know to save money on your next trip.

This article was originally published by GOBankingRates.

​1. Book 30 days in advance

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Boutique hotel booking website Stayful found that you can get the best hotel prices by booking 30 days before your stay, said Cheryl Rosner, co-founder and CEO of Stayful.

However, if you don't reserve a room a full month in advance, there is another window of opportunity to get a deal. Rosner said that hotels also tend to offer some of their best rates seven to 10 days in advance of a stay

​2. Wait until the last minute to book a room

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If you can handle waiting until the last minute, you'll often find a great rate at a hotel by booking a room the day of your stay, said Carrie Peters, travel editor for Hotwire. That's because most hotels are only 60 percent occupied on any given night, said Brian Ek, travel analyst for Priceline. "So they would love to fill that room even if it means filling it for only pennies on the dollar," he said.

However, they're more likely to offer discounted rates through third-party travel websites rather than their own sites, said Ek. You can find last-minute deals on sites such as Priceline, Hotwire and LastMinuteTravel.com. A note of caution: Don't expect to find last-minute deals at popular destinations during their peak seasons, such as Florida beach cities during spring break or New York between Thanksgiving and Christmas, said Ek.

​3. Get a refund for a price drop

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If you don't want to chance ending up without a place to stay, you can reserve a room in advance and still take advantage of price drops by booking through Tingo.com. Tingo will automatically re-book your room at a lower rate if the price drops and refund the difference to the credit card you used. The average refund for rooms booked six weeks in advance is about $68, according to Tingo.

​4. Stay on a Sunday

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Timing a hotel stay right can save you money. Hotwire data showed that, on average, Sundays have the lowest rates for hotel rooms, Peters said. So, you can lower the overall cost of lodging if you plan your trip to include a Sunday night stay, she said.

​5. Go to tourist locales mid-week

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Cities that are major tourist destinations tend to see more traffic on weekends, when people are working and have time to travel. So prices tend to rise as demand does. You'll save on the cost of lodging if you go against the tide, said Bob Tupper, author of "Drinking In the Culture: Tuppers' Guide to Exploring Great Beers in Europe."

"Go to touristy areas in mid-week when the tourists aren't there in droves," he said.

​6. Visit business hotspots on weekends

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You can save money on lodging by staying at a hotel in a city's business district on weekends when business travelers have checked out and headed home, Tupper said. For example, he found a room in an upscale business district of Zurich, Switzerland, on a weekend at half the price of a weekday stay.

​7. Take advantage of shoulder season

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Shoulder season is the period of time between the off-peak season at a destination when the weather is not ideal for travel and the peak season when prices are high and crowds are abundant.

Because Easter came early this year, there's a rare two-month shoulder season between spring break and the start of the summer travel season on Memorial Day, Ek said. "That's 60 days when hotels will need help filling rooms, and the rates will be attractive," he said.

For example, the average daily rate in the popular ski resort city of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is about $135 in May -- a bargain considering it will jump to $198 come June, said Ek. If you visit during this shoulder season, you can see nearby Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks before the summer crowds arrive.

​8. Get deep discounts during the off-season

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Just because a destination has a reputation for extreme heat, cold or storms at certain times of the year, that doesn't mean you're destined to experience bad weather if you visit that spot then, said Elizabeth Avery, founder of Solo Trekker 4 U, a site dedicated to traveling solo.

What you will get, though, are deep discounts on lodging because demand will be lower in the off-season. For example, locales known for having a rainy season can be a good value because the rains can be brief rather than continuous, she said. You can still do plenty of sightseeing -- at a lower cost.

​9. Stay in the suburbs

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If you stay on the outskirts of mid- and large-sized cities, you'll find more upscale hotels at lower prices, said Neil Emerson, senior vice president of product development for travel brokerage company Tourico Holidays.

For example, the rate for a one-night stay in April at the DoubleTree Suites in New York City near Times Square was $263. But the rate for a room at the DoubleTree Suites in nearby Jersey City, New Jersey, on the same night was more than $100 cheaper.

Plus, the cost of parking will be much more reasonably priced -- or even free -- if you stay at a hotel in the suburbs rather than the city center.

​10. Watch out for event-related price hikes

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Before you book a trip, make sure there are no major events happening in a city when you want to visit it, said Eric Grayson, founder of Discover7 Travel Services. Otherwise, you could pay astronomical rates because of an increased demand for rooms in the area, he said.

Check the city's tourism or chamber of commerce site for a calendar of events to ensure you're not planning a trip at a time when rooms will be scarce and prices will be high.

​11. Be flexible with travel dates

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The more flexible you are with the dates you can travel, the more you can save on a hotel room. Ek of Priceline recommended choosing a destination and then pricing the cost of a hotel over a few different weeks or months to spot the best rates.

For example, the rates for four-star hotels in Orlando, Florida, ranged from $123 to $532 the week of April 10 through 16 but drop to a range of $89 to $309 the week of May 8 through 13, he said.

You can use the Trivago.com Hotel Price Index to see the average monthly prices for 35 of North America's popular cities to find out when the cheapest time to book a stay is.

Want to see more hotel secrets? Click ahead for 29 more tips from GOBankingRates.

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