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Given one of our HC crew just went on a mini rant about technology, we're giggling a bit about all these new travel apps that seem to be coming out weekly-blah-daily. Some of them are good and we frequently use them, but now the word "app" is becoming a pain in our "apps"..if you will.
The latest comes from Hotwire who has just released their own iPhone app for discounts on last-minute hotel rooms located in 3145 cities and 61 countries. So now they join HotelTonight and most recently Jetsetter in this category of mobile applications capitalizing on a hotel's unused room inventory. OK, so what makes this one different?
Well, first it's only available on the iPhone and iTouch, and more specifically, designed to work best with the new iOS 6 and iPhone 5. Ay. So, what, they are they anti-Android?
There are other tiny differences that won't really matter in the long run if all you want to do is quickly find a hotel room at a good price, which Hotwire assures you'll be able to do within 30 seconds using their app. But we're not completely sold.
We took a chance and booked the hotel through Hotwire and scored a night for $151 ($177.58 with taxes and fees). Rooms typically start at $229 a night. Was the hotel as cute as its sea otter keycard mascot? Find out after the jump.
A room at the Hollywood Roosevelt which we got for $110 off the hotel's rack rate.
In a world nearly overrun with private sample sites, mobile booking sites, last minute booking deals, and "secret" hotel options, it shouldn't come as a surprise to us that there are over 1.8 million hotel rooms that go unsold in a given night in North America, alone. But it does. That's a lot of lonely hotel rooms (and to hotel owners, a lot of loss of revenue.)
Hotwire, the original secret hotel, blind/opaque booking site put forth this number in their April 2011 rate report, probably as a way to prevent us from feeling bad about those low rates we score. C'mon, you know that feeling, like, "OMG, I got the room for $100 less than what the hotel was charging. Is that legal?" A guilty feeling that's further deepened by surprise room upgrades.
Ok, so we know that if we get excited about a hotel before we stay there, it’s going to have a job to live up to expectations. And we know that the very first time we visited San Diego, we saw the Manchester Grand Hyatt plonked right on the water and said “next time, we’re staying there.” Actually, it took our fifth visit to San Diego to stay there, so the expectation was even higher.
So the fact that we were disappointed by our stay once we finally got there is to be expected. But then, when you’re faced with hideosities like this patterned luggage rack that even grandma would think was too twee, or the terrible, cheap pictures on the wall (see the gallery), it’s hard not to be disappointed. And combined with a room that’s just dull, dull dull, it’s even harder.
We snagged a room on Hotwire for $106, when booking through the hotel would have set us back $240. What a bargain, we thought, as we walked through from the self park to the lobby with its sky high roof, murals on the walls and scent of the high life heavy in the air.
And then we got to the front desk, told the guy how excited we were to be there and he just stared at us and said “credit card and ID please”. And when we handed them over, he said in a rather condescending tone, “Ah, you booked on Hotwire.” Squashed.
Some of your options for tonight
As you may have gathered from out previous coverage, we love Hotwire so we were delighted by the news that it’s just launched a site for UK and Ireland bookings. Not that this is completely new – it did include UK listings on its global site before, but they were few and far between (in fact, in the past we’ve done better with Name Your Own Price on Priceline - last year we scored the JW Marriott Grosvenor House for $160, rather than the full price $350).
Now, though, with a site concentrating purely on the two countries, we thought things would be on the up for Hotwire.
Sadly, we were still very disappointed when, yesterday, we jumped on the UK homepage, cruising for hotels in London. For the whole of London – central, inner, outer, two stars and up – there were just 35 hotels. And narrowing it down to just four stars and up left just 12 options, of which one was at Gatwick, another at Heathrow and another in Ealing. Ealing! Not so cool.
From the looks of the cheat sheet on BetterBidding.com, the inventory so far is very chainy: Holiday Inns, Radissons, Club Quarters and Wyndhams predominate. In other news, there aren’t many places to tempt us.
However, the savings make it definitely worth looking at. There is, for example, a five star hotel for tonight showing as £149. Which is already a good price, whatever the hotel is. According to Better Bidding, it could be the InterContinental London Park Lane (which is showing rates of £279 for tonight), The Sheraton Park Lane (£259), or the Waldorf Hilton (£249). So although your options may be limited, that’s a nice lot of money you could be saving.
Know of a hotel room open for Super Bowl? Tell us where right here.
Commenter David Ferner had a fair question after reading one of our recent Super Bowl XLV hotel round-ups: Is it possible to Hotwire (or Quikbook or Priceline) up a room in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for February 6? We decided to find out!
We don't need to declare our love for Hotwire and their awesome hotel bargains yet again on these pages but there is a new option on the site that has our hotel deal-seeking hearts beating just a little harder for them.
As head over heels in love as we are with the steep discounts we find on Hotwire (particularly for those one night stays mid-week), we've always been slightly perturbed that you could never choose your room type, i.e. king, queen, double. Most of the time, we've always wound up with a king or queen bed in a standard room type of the hotel. So that's typically what we expect when we book through Hotwire.
But last summer, when a HotelChatter contributor got denied requesting a room with two beds at the hotel after booking through Hotwire, we began to think it was really crazy that Hotwire never gave you this option in the first place.
Well, it looks like they now have.
It looks like Expedia has finally caught up to Priceline, Hotwire, Quikbook and Travelocity in offering guests deals up to 55 percent off in exchange for not knowing what hotel they are paying for and not being able to cancel or change the reservation.
However, it looks like these deals aren't unique to Expedia as the results are powered in by Expedia's sister site, Hotwire. Still, we wanted to verify if what Expedia pulled up was the same as what Hotwire revealed.
The Se may have separate chairs in its lobby, but separate beds are a different story
We’ve told you over and over again how much we adore Hotwire here at HotelChatter, but while we’ve raved over the big discounts and free upgrades it’s scored us, we were always under the impression that once you book it, there’s no going back. Turns out, we were kind of wrong.
The saga: we took a last minute trip to California for our Fourth of July weekend and, on Thursday afternoon, used Hotwire to book ourselves a 4.5 star hotel in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter for Thursday and Friday night. It came up with the Se San Diego. Excellent, we thought – it may be in danger of closing, but that’s hardly a concern when we’re staying that same night, plus the rooms look lush on the website.
The only thing was, we would be arriving late, and we were traveling with a friend who we weren’t that buzzed about sharing a bed with. So we called up the hotel to ask whether it’d be possible to request a room with two beds. And we were told in no uncertain terms: no.
Adventures in Blind Booking / Westin Hotels / Hotwire / Frankfurt Hotels / Germany Hotels / → All Tags
Have you seen the good news? Good for Americans and not-so-good for Europeans, though. The Euro has dropped significantly in value recently, making summer European trips very appealing and affordable. We just got back from Germany ourselves, and on top of reaping the benefits of better exchange rates, we also blind-booked a hotel for one night in Frankfurt, and majorly scored on the deal.
With a last-minute extra night in the city, we had to make a quick decision for a hotel that would ideally be luxurious, but not too expensive that we'd be traumatized at losing the room charge in case the Iceland volcano threw off our entire trip. Thus, we turned to Hotwire and spotted a 5-star for $105 per night. That's 105 dollars even.
OpenThread / Adventures in Blind Booking / Hotwire / Priceline / Hotel Loyalty Programs / → All Tags
Sleeping around may not be worth it if you can't earn loyalty points.
If you've been following our Adventures in Blind Booking, you would know that we are on a serious blind booking kick. It's all about the best deals, baby! But we have momentarily come down from our bargain-hunter's high to reflect upon a very serious issue--our loyalty program points.
When we Facebooked our love of blind booking, a fan of ours pointed out that while he loved getting the "awesome deals" on sites like Hotwire and Priceline, usually hotels will not give you loyalty points because you did not book through the hotel.
This is very true. Many hotel loyalty programs state this in their program's Terms and Conditions (See below.) Yet it's never been a big deal for us because we like to sleep around and so for the past few years our loyalty membership cards have collected dust in our desk drawer.
However, there have been exceptions.
Hotel Booking Tips / Adventures in Blind Booking / Hotwire / Thompson Hotels / Hollywood Hotels / → All Tags
Now that Quikbook and Travelocity are getting into the blind booking business, joining Hotwire and Priceline, we've got many more tools to use when searching for bargain hotel rates. So we've decided to keep regular tabs on our wins (and in some cases, losses). We used to call this Hotel Roulette but it's a new decade and this type of research needs a new name--Adventures in Blind Hotel Booking. Here's our first match.
There is this man named Sir Paul McCartney, you might have heard of him before? Anyways, even though he is 67 years old, he is still touring the world playing his greatest hits from the Beatles, Wings, Fireman and his own successful solo work. So when we heard that he was coming to the Hollywood Bowl, we jumped at the chance to see him live.
And we decided to make a night out of it. We don't live far from Hollywood but we wanted to enjoy the concert, if you know what we mean. Yet since we splurged on the tickets, we needed to keep our hotel room costs down. So we turned to our trusty friend, Hotwire.