soft openings

Grown-up Travel Tip: Find “soft openings” for new hotels

Yes, the phrase “soft openings” is the cue for some kind of naughty joke but I am resisting the temptation for once…

I’m in travelling mode here at Grown-up Travel Guide – as you read this post I’m exploring the winter wonderlands of Norway and will be staying with friends and at a couple of hotels while I’m out and about.

On the subject of hotels, here’s something to look out for and a tip that has served me well in the past. 

“Soft openings” can put a luxury hotel within your reach

hotel soft openings

This is well worth a little research. You see, when a new hotel opens the owners often drop room rates to try to fill the place. If you are in the loop you can score accommodation that would usually be out of the question.

Depending on what kind of budget you have…

Well true, but I´m assuming most people reading this are interested in getting more for less. That is, after all, our site philosophy.

Point taken. Okay, how do we find out about these bargains then?

Naturally the internet is the place to go. Hotel News Resource is the best of the bunch when it comes to news of the latest hotel openings, but is closely followed by  and not least the wonderful online forum site FlyerTalk which – as its name suggests – covers more than just hotels. Or indeed flights – it’s a great resource for many things travel but does take a little getting used to and being a forum is somewhat trickier to navigate until you are more familiar with it.

And it’s worth the hassle?

Oh yes – you could have saved nearly 25% off the very swanky W hotel in London during its soft opening back in the day. I could have too, but missed it and am still kicking myself all these years later. Not just for the 25% in cash terms, but for the fact that I was actually staying at a hotel in London at the time…

On a different trip I stayed at the hub by Premier Inn Westminster a few weeks after it opened and the same goes for the Skifer Hotel in Oppdal, Norway. I later returned to the Skifer Hotel and Oppdal with my family on the hotel’s 2nd anniversary.

There’s a certain excitement about being one of the first guests in a new place although they do sometimes need to smooth out the rough edges and get into the flow, which was the case when I checked out the brand new Clarion in my home town of Trondheim. They appreciated the feedback and ironed out the problems quickly. Sorry for the dual use of the metaphoric ironing board there.

When travelling in Africa, I have often stayed at brand new lodges and camps out in the bush, but this is generally through being invited to inspect properties on a so-called “fam trip”. Also a weird expression given today’s British slang but it is actually an abbreviation for “familiarisation trip” and involves going on a whirlwind tour of places to make sure they are up to scratch. This is through my work as a travel designer for Africa as the owner of The Grown-up Travel Company rather than keeping track of soft openings online.

I saw similar savings at several of the major new hotels last year. Another take on this is offered by Tablet Hotels, a website which rates and details the best luxury and boutique hotels.

They are pretty picky about the ones they include, and have a neat little system called Tablet Spy, whereby they tell you about soft  launches and allow you to book at discounted rates before the actual opening. When you get back home they ask for your opinion as to whether the hotel should be included in their list.

Nice. Time for a little surfing, methinks…

Have you tried this method? Do you have any other hotel-related tips? Whatever, we want to hear from you. But we’ll still block any offensive stuff of course. Or spam…

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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