If you are like me, a hotel is just a place to sleep.
I would rather save my money that I would spend on an expensive hotel room ($200 per night) and spend it on a fine restaurant. So how do you find good, but inexpensive hotels and hostels. Try the lonelyplanet site. It always starts with an inexpensive hostel and then goes up in price from there. Priceline and Travelocity are other sources. The problem with Priceline is that there is a gamble on the location. I don't have any experience with Travelocity.
The back up methods are to carry Frommers and Foders with you and look for reviews.