How to Save Money on Fancy Hotel Rooms

CaboActual view from a room in Cabo San Lucas booked using one of these sites.

I love happy hours because I love saving money. But I love saving money on more than dining out. I do my best to get good value at almost anything I do - including vacations.

This post will cover nice hotel rooms. They're not always the cheapest. For that, I normally do Priceline, paired with Bidding for Travel, a forum where other users post what hotels they've been getting on what days and at what price so you have a good idea what to bid. They also have a good list of potential hotels, so you know if you're getting the Motel 6, the Hampton Inn or the W Hotel at various star levels.

But similar to Groupon and Living Social, both of which have travel sites these days, there are limited time offer travel sites that offer amazing deals to great destinations. I've used them for hotel rooms in Hawaii and Cabo San Lucas. (I've personally used the first two.)

If nothing else, I really enjoy getting the e-mails advertising the exotic locations on sale that week. On a really slow or bad day at work, the minute of two of where I can daydream about a potential vacation can't help but brighten my day.

Do you have a favorite travel deal Web site? Share it in the comments below and I'll update the post.

Other off topic posts about saving money:

Getting Married in Sacramento the Cowtown Eats Way, Part 2

If you missed Part 1, click here to read that first. This is the second in a two-part series on the Sacramento wedding vendors I used when I got married in the Spring.

Caterer - All Seasons, All Reasons

We checked out and tasted three Sacramento caterers before choosing All Seasons, All Reasons. Owned and operated by Monty and chef Joshua, they were super easy to work with and understood our budgetary restrictions. We went in for a tasting, and their food was superb. They proposed a menu that was out of our price range, but they were able to work with us and through changes in the menu and linens, we came to an experience that fit our budget. They definitely weren’t the least expensive option, but for us, All Seasons, All Reasons was in the sweet spot in terms of price and value. On the day of our wedding, their staff was very responsive to our requests and helped the day run smoothly.

Still Photographer - John Decker

We used a friend and former coworker John Decker who now has his own photography business. He’s worked as a photojournalist, most recently with the Sacramento Bee, was Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s official photographer, and now is out on his own. (He took the photo at the top of this post.) We had a preference for a documentary-style photographer for our wedding, and that’s exactly what we got. But he also pushed us into a couple of more artsy photos. We trusted him, and he was right. Our photos are fabulous. We couldn’t have asked for a more responsible, responsive or amazing photographer. As with our other vendors, he wasn’t the cheapest, but he provided great value for his skills and photos.

Continue reading "Getting Married in Sacramento the Cowtown Eats Way, Part 2" »

Getting Married in Sacramento the Cowtown Eats Way, Part 1


This is Part 1 in a series on the vendors I used for my wedding.

As you can imagine, the guy who runs a happy hour blog likes getting good value for his money. That doesn’t always mean getting the cheapest drink, but getting the drink you want for a good price. It’s with this mentality that I went through the whole wedding process.

We got married in early April in Sacramento. In choosing our wedding vendors, we did a lot of research. In almost every case, the Sacramento wedding vendor we chose wasn’t the cheapest, but it was one that we felt comfortable with, one that met our needs and one that provided good value.

This research was a lot of work. I wanted to take this opportunity to share the vendors we used and give a short explanation as to why we chose them. Hopefully, this series can save you some time, effort and money while providing you with a great experience on your wedding day.

(Also, I understand this is a happy hour blog. I promise there won't be many of these posts.)

Continue reading "Getting Married in Sacramento the Cowtown Eats Way, Part 1" »

Celebrate Sac Burger Month at de Vere’s Irish Pub

May is National Burger Month. (Who knew?) To celebrate Sacramento Burger Month, de Vere’s Irish Pub is offering a different gourmet burger, fries and a paired microbrew each week for $15.50.

I was invited with a number of other local bloggers by de Vere’s to a complimentary burger tasting last month try the gourmet burgers their chefs had whipped up for the occasion.

Week OneTostada Burger: The first week of May, the Irish Pub will be offering a Mexican-themed burger in connection with Cinco de Mayo, or as de Vere’s does it, O’Drinko de Mayo. The burger has a bun, a tostada with pico de gallo, the patty and then another whole tostada. The burger also has a jalapeno mayo, and is paired with Corona.

Week TwoFirehouse Burger: This smokehouse-themed burger is topped with smoked goat cheese, a red wine and shallot reduction and onion strings. The patty itself is smoked and a blend of both ground beef and ground pork. The Firehouse Burger will be paired with a New Belgium beer (from the makers of Fat Tire) – likely the Trippel or Abbey.

Week Three Stadium Burger: This monstrosity of a burger replaces the traditional bun with a pretzel bun, has a patty stuffed with cheddar, and is topped with lettuce, tomato, house-picked relish and whole grain mustard.  This burger will be paired with Mothership Wit, an organic wheat beer.

Week Four – You make the call: de Vere’s will let its Facebook fans vote on which burger to feature – either a prime rib burger or a burger featuring short rib.

We were given the opportunity to try all three of the burgers, and honestly, I liked all three. I really enjoyed the Tostada Burger and the Stadium Burger. They were unique concepts executed well and paired with good beer. The Tostada Burger had a great contrast in textures between the soft bun and the crunchy tostada shells. While I’m a wimp at eating spicy food, the jalapeno mayo and pico de gallo gave the burger a good kick without being too spicy.

The Stadium Burger was equally tasty, but in a different way. The pretzel is a familiar flavor, but in a new form factor. The whole grain mustard was also nice addition to balance out the flavors.

I enjoyed the Firehouse Burger, but there was nothing exceptional about it. It was a very good burger that probably suffered by its lack of novelty when eaten in the same meal with the other two high concept burgers.

Personally, I’ll be hitting up de Vere’s this week to get another chance to eat the Tostada Burger.

Sac Burger Month is being run by local burger blogger Burger Junkies (whom I met at the tasting). He’s also giving away a camera this month to anybody who participates in Sac Burger Month, tweets about their experience with the #SacBurgerMonth hashtag and includes a pic of what they’re eating. For more information, visit Burger Junkies.

How to Save 50 Percent at Good Restaurants, Second Edition

I wrote a post a year ago on How to Save Nearly 50 Percent at Good Restaurants, and it’s been the most popular feature on Cowtown Eats. Unfortunately, the post is now a little dated, so I’ve decided to update it. Here’s How to Save 50 Percent at Good Restaurants, Second Edition.

There two main ways that you can save nearly 50 percent on restaurants – through limited time offers like Groupon or limited supply offers like Fox 40’s Frugal Fridays.

Limited Time Offers

The limited time offers are those where the deal is only offered for a day or a few days, and then the deals are gone. These are the sites that offer these deals in Sacramento:

Not all the deals are food and drink related. I’d say half of the time, they’re personal services (massages, hair cuts, cleaning services, etc.), a third of the time, they’re admission to a venues or events  (Kings games, admission to the zoo, skydiving, etc.), and the rest of them are food and drink related items. You can sign up and join their e-mail list if you’re interested in receiving these deals daily, or you can check Cowtown Eats and I’ll post the food and drink related deals.

Continue reading "How to Save 50 Percent at Good Restaurants, Second Edition" »

Turning Lemons into Lemon Drops at House Kitchen & Bar

I don't usually write about my experiences at restaurants, but I wanted to highlight a recent experience I had at House Kitchen & Bar.

I work on Capitol Mall. A couple weeks back, I went with some of my coworkers to House Kitchen & Bar for a going away lunch for someone who works in my department.

When we got there, the restaurant was hopping. Every table was full. It was a vibrant lunch crowd.

We sat down, ordered at 12:35 and at 1 p.m., we still hadn't received our food. We also didn't get any bread or anything to munch on during the wait. Rest assured -- watches were checked and we stared longingly at those who were lucky enough to get their meals.

At about 1:10 p.m., we got our food -- 35 minutes after we ordered it. I'll admit that I don't have the kind of job where I have to be back to work at a specific time, but we're all busy at work and we don't have time to sit around in the middle of the day.

We all scarfed down our food -- who isn't hungry if they haven't eaten lunch by 1:15 -- all of which was tasty. Among the entrees our group of six had were the steak sandwich and pulled pork sandwich. I'm a huge fan of the steak sandwich.

But we couldn't get over how long we had to wait. The service by the waiter wasn't bad, but the kitchen was just too slow. We didn't finish eating until 1:30, nearly an hour after we arrived. 

This is the part where the lemons were turned into lemon drops. As the table busser cleared our last plate away, the waiter came over and apologized for the speed of the kitchen (or lack thereof). He told us that they were taking two entrees off our bill and offered us a dessert to share.

We didn't complain to them (yet). We didn't make a scene. I didn't tell them that I ran a happy hour Web site. But they realized that they did not provide the experience they wanted to and wanted to make it right.

We went from totally unsatisfied to willing to give them another chance next time our office goes out for lunch.

Is there a restaurant that went out of their way to right something they did wrong? Let us know in the comments below.

USA! USA! 7 Places to Watch Friday's USA vs. Slovenia on Friday


I'm glad the World Cup officials had the foresight to schedule USA's second World Cup game on a Furlough Friday. It makes it easier to drink in the morning without all that guilt.

For those looking for a place to watch the USA soccer team (hopefully) destroy Slovenia, here are 7 places to catch the game tomorrow morning.

Do you have a favorite place to watch the World Cup? Let us know and leave it in the comments below.