I highly recommend Priceline's "name your own price". You don't get to pick your exact hotel but you can pick the area and star level. And you an start your bids as low as you want (the catch is you can only bid once every 24 hours, so I personally recommend starting at 50% below the average you are seeing). If your bid is rejected no harm, no foul, nothing is charge to you or booked for you. If the bid is accepted, your hotel is booked at that price and all the details are sent to you. Since you are interested in a general area and low pries, its a great option. I've done it a few times and always been put in nice hotels.