As more companies offer remote positions through the pandemic and beyond, many workers are considering the possibility of hitting the road for good as digital nomads. Yet working remotely isn’t all hammocks and margaritas.
Living and working full- or part-time in a hotel offers many advantages for the geographically independent. Beyond clean sheets and free breakfast, hotels provide flexibility, predictability and fast internet connections — must-haves for professional nomads.
Yet is it feasible to spend much of the year living in hotel rooms? Aren’t they prohibitively expensive? Here, we break down some of the most important, and potentially surprising, considerations when thinking about working remotely in hotels.
The pandemic has driven down hotel prices, especially in urban areas, where they're likely to remain low until business travel returns to normal. How far down? You can get a suite at the Hyatt House Seattle, near the Space Needle, for $84 per night. That’s unheard of in one of the most expensive cities on the West Coast.
Still, $84 per night works out to $2,520 per month, before tax. While this is in line with apartment rent prices in Seattle, it might still be out of range for many budgets.
Here’s how to knock that price down.
Target longer stays
In many places, long-term hotel guests are exempt from some or all local hotel taxes. These rules vary from state to state and even city to city, including what counts as “long term,” but 30 days is common. This means that if you stay 30 consecutive days or more, you could avoid those pesky, sometimes exorbitant hotel taxes.
The easiest way to learn how these rules work is to call the hotel you're considering and ask about potential long-term stay tax exemptions. The sales manager should know these rules inside and out.
Speaking of which …
Call and make a deal
Hotels love long-term guests, especially in the current travel slump. If you’re considering a longer-term stay, you might be able to call the hotel directly, speak to a sales manager and ask for a special rate.
When making these calls:
Remain flexible and positive. A sales manager might not be able to lower the price, but could offer free perks like meal vouchers or waived fees.
Shop around. Call a few hotels in the area and see which one makes the best offer. Don’t hesitate to mention what other hotels are offering.
Come prepared. Check the normal daily rate in the time frame you’re considering to have as a baseline.
Try to get the offer in writing, as an email or reservation number, to make it simpler to compare. Also, this will make things easier if you call back and speak to another representative at the same hotel.
Look for discounts
As the work-from-hotel trend gains steam, brands have begun competing with one another to offer the most enticing discounts, promotions and benefits. Marriott Bonvoy has introduced a “work from anywhere” promotion that includes food credits, access to workspace and even supervised child activities at some locations. Hilton is offering its rooms as day-use workspaces.
» Learn more: WorkSpaces by Hilton for a change of scenery
Here’s the big difference between living on the road and living in a house or apartment: You can earn travel rewards. These rewards are effectively a rebate on your spending, so the more of them you can stack on top of each other, the less you’re effectively paying.
Here are basic ways to get started.
Leverage credit cards
There are two ways to use credit cards to maximum advantage when traveling full time:
Earn points on spending. Many hotel credit cards offer bonus points when using that card for spending within the card’s brand. These are on top of the points earned normally. For example, if you earn 10 points per dollar spent normally, plus 5 points per dollar spent on the credit card at its namesake hotel, and each point is worth 1 cent, then you’re essentially getting a 15% rebate in the form of points.
Earn through welcome offers. Many cards offer welcome points if you spend a certain amount of dollars on the card in the first few months of having it. These minimum spending thresholds are especially easy to hit if you’re putting your “rent” on credit cards each month.
Look for promotions
Hotel brands are constantly offering promotions and incentives to earn extra points for staying at their properties. Keep an eye on these and take advantage of the most lucrative ones. Earning a few extra points every night can add up when you’re staying for hundreds of nights a year.
Maximize elite status
If you’re spending lots of time in hotels, you’re likely going to earn elite status. Having status can offer more than just bragging rights, and include valuable perks like free breakfast, bonus points and suite upgrades.
Compare hotel elite status programs carefully and target those that offer the best bang for your buck at the highest elite levels. Then enjoy the perks.
Other things to keep in mind
Living in a hotel might sound glamorous, but it carries some drawbacks. Plus, hidden fees and other costs can ramp up in a hurry.
If you’re seriously contemplating living and working remotely in hotels, here are some additional tips:
Look for suites with kitchens. Unless you want to eat out for literally every meal, you’ll want a full-size refrigerator and some basic cooking equipment. Consider all-suite hotel chains, like Staybridge Suites or Hyatt House, that offer these amenities in every room.
Watch out for parking and pet fees. Hotel fees can get complicated and expensive before you know it. Make sure you’ve factored them into your budget (and tried to negotiate them with the sales rep) before you book.
Recognize that shared spaces are limited. If you’re traveling with a partner or family, be aware that shared amenities and spaces in hotels are limited during the pandemic. So if you need room to work, a small hotel room might not be the best fit.
The bottom line
Living and working in a hotel might sound like a dream — or a nightmare. Depending on your preferences and budget, it can be a good way to stay sane while living on the road. If you can keep the costs down, earn maximum rewards and take advantage of elite status perks, you may never have to go “home” again.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card