'Tis the season -- or at least it soon will be -- for travel to destinations for shopping, visiting friends and relatives, and celebrating the holidays. Hotels.com has a deal on hotel rooms in more than 250 cities (tel. 866/539-8427; www.hotels.com) large and small, warm and cold, ranging from Albany, Georgia to Yosemite National Park area, California and New York, Chicago, and Miami. The travel dates vary depending on the destination -- as do the booking deadlines and specific discounts and incentives -- but generally speaking you should book as soon as possible and expect the travel period to start immediately and run through the New Year. We're looking closely at the savings offered to those headed to U.S. destinations, but cities in Canada Mexico, Dominican Republic, and the Caribbean are included, along with European spots such as Riga, Salzburg, Berlin, and more.
For example, you can stay in San Francisco from $60 at the three-star La Luna Inn, a kitschy, 1960s throwback styled property located near the Bay -- or the Westin San Francisco Market Street, from $125, or the Westin St. Francis, centrally located on Union Square, from $149. The valid travel periods are through March 1 but you must book by November 24. The savings for a place like Orlando/Kissimmee area are significant, too -- the Four Points by Sheraton Orlando Studio City is available from $74 for travel through March 1 if you book by November 24; Clarion Hotel Universal, near Universal Studios, is priced from $99 for travel January 1-April 15, with a booking deadline of December 15. Elsewhere, stays at the W New Orleans in the French Quarter through March 1 are priced from $159. The Four Points Sheraton in Chelsea is available from $175 for travel through March 1, 2009 if you book by November 24. The nice part about the Hotels.com site is that when you see the rate, it offers a level of transparency to the reader by telling you the date at which that rate is first available; for The Four Points, it's Saturday, November 22.
As an aside, it might be worth also comparing prices against Hotels.com's Thanksgiving sale, which offers discounts of 30 percent for travel November 24 through December 1 provided you book by November 24. Sample prices for more immediate travel, say to Boston's Park Plaza hotel, start from $112; The James Hotel in Chicago is priced from $168 until November 28; Hotel Fifty in Portland, Oregon is priced from $149 until November 28.