by Tom Isler | October 08, 2008

priusOne way to shave a few dollars off of hotel bills is to arrive in a hybrid car. The savings might even be enough to outweigh the premiums car rental companies charge for hybrids.

Last Summer, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts began offering free valet parking to drivers of hybrids at its Arizona and California properties. Since then, the Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston and some Canadian properties have followed suit.

At the Fairmont San Francisco, that carries significant value. A three-day rental of a Toyota Prius recently was available on at only $15 to $25 more than that of a regular compact car. With valet parking priced at around $50 per night, a hybrid-driving guest could net more than $100, not including savings at the pump.

It's worth inquiring if hotels offer any special parking perks. The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis; the Swissôtel Chicago, and the Sonesta Bayfront Hotel Coconut Grove in Florida, for example, all offer similar discounts, as do Kimpton Properties and some other independent hotels. Bets to take advantage now, before hybrids become too popular to be singled out.