Cheap Hotel Rates with Hotwire

by Carlos Portocarrero on 3 June 2010 14 comments
Photo: Uggboy

We all love to travel and stay in hotels. From having our bed made for us and getting the newspaper delivered to our door, very few things in life compare to staying at a nice hotel. But nice hotels aren't cheap — unless you know how to find them.

I recently traveled to Boston and paid a dirt-cheap rate for a fancy hotel a five-minute walk from Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. How did I do it? I booked it through Hotwire.

My Story

I actually had booked a room with Hotels.com but then got an email two days before our trip that there was a "problem" with the reservation. So I called them up and found out that, sure enough, I did not have a room.

Frustrated, I decided to try one of the other hotel aggregators out there to find another hotel that wasn't too expensive.

I was in a bit of a panic — this was not the kind of surprise I had in mind for our anniversary weekend!

What is Hotwire?

It's a hotel aggregator with a twist. Kayak, Orbitz, and Hotels.com all do the same thing, but Hotwire sets itself apart by throwing a curveball into the process.

Hotwire won't show you the name of the hotel until you've booked it, but it will show you the price and the approximate location.

I told Hotwire I wanted to be in the financial district and that I wanted to see the lowest possible rates. What I saw was a 4 1/2 star hotel available for just $149/night before taxes.

So I booked it and only after I got my confirmation email did I find out I would be staying at the Langham Hotel, which is rated as a four-star hotel and is ranked number 26 in Boston by TripAdvisor.

Was It Weird?

A little, but I got over it real quick after seeing the price and reading their ratings guide. And I found out that I was staying at the Langham, I did more sleuthing and it became real obvious what a great deal I got.

How Do They Do It?

They hide the names of the hotels because hotels don't want to advertise that they have such low prices for their rooms. It makes perfect sense.

So we get the benefit of a cheap room at a nice hotel, the hotel gets to sell their inventory without telling the world about the discount, and the people that paid $265 for the very same room can enjoy the fact that they can afford nice hotels more often than the rest of us.

Everyone's a winner!

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Guest's picture
blue

even better, go to betterbidding.com

basically, people post what hotels they have gotten when using a certain listing.... so that by the area, star rating, and what icons it shows for things like pools and laundry, you already know in advance which hotel you are almost always going to be getting for that listing.

less surprises, and knowing the hotel lets you verify that its both what you want, and the best deal.

Jabulani Leffall's picture

I travel all the time, several times a month in fact and I swear by Hotwire when my Hotels aren't being booked for me or if I'm not at Hyatt where I have a platinum membership. If I have less than $100 to spend and I have to pay for it, I'm Hotwiring this joint all day. The thing I like about Hotwire is that even though it doesn't tell you the hotel name, it tells you the hotel type, it gives you a comparable list: Hyatt, Omni or Raddison, Crown Plaza etc. so that at least you know what type of Hotel you're getting. There are also surprises like a killer Boutique I once got in Chicago, a Central Park-bound one I got in New York and upscale places in Downtown LA, St. Louis and Minneapolis. And what I love: All of these Hotwire rooms were below $100 a night, some of them were below $80, dare I say the one's I book every month near LAX are below $70. I swear by it! F&&&&%%$in Hotwire! LOL:) Good quick and dirty post!

Guest's picture
Guest

You could have done a lot better by bidding for a 4-star hotel on Priceline. www.biddingfortravel.com gives info on how to bid effectively on Priceline using free re-bids. It works really great for large markets like Boston. I've never paid anywhere close to $150 for any 4-star hotel in the Boston area. Try it!

Carlos Portocarrero's picture

Eh...I just don't like Priceline. I want to see the price and then decide. This whole idea of bidding my own price and either being rejected or not....I don't have the patience for it.

Guest's picture
Guest

Be careful using Hotwire. We are a family of 5 and tried to use Hotwire to book a room in Tampa, FL. We got a really nice room - but it was only big enough for 4 people. After a lot of complaining Hotwire did refund our money. And we booked another room the old fashioned way - we called a hotel directly.

Guest's picture
Guest

Sorry, it wasn't Hotwire. It was Travelocity.

Guest's picture
Bob Caplan

I have used Hotwire many, many times over the years and saved a lot of money. Beware, however, that they are very stubborn about the no-refund, no-change policy. If a hotel property has changed hands and dropped in quality, the new owners may have contracted with Hotwire and sold rooms through Hotwire based upon the hotel's past glory. It takes a while for bad reviews of properties to affect Hotwire's star ratings, and you may think you are getting a four star property when, in fact, it is only worth two stars. And in that situation, with Hotwire there are no changes, and you are stuck.

Guest's picture
Guest

Thanks for your post. I think I had seen that same $149/night listing for the July 4th weekend about a week ago, but it must have been booked since it's no longer in my search results. I just booked a $154/night, 4-1/2 star hotel which turned out to be the InterContinental Boston, ranked #16. Looking forward to it!

Guest's picture
Patrice

We use hotwire , and we never book under 3 and a half stars, here are our results , Gaylord Palms Orlando 89 a night, The Four Seasons Philadelphia 89 a night , The Westin Columbus Ohio 59 a night, The Westin Cincinnati Ohio 49 a night we have not had bad results and one of these is a one night stay

Guest's picture
Guest

I set a WARNING for hotwire users. I tried to book a 3 star hotel and got a 1 star hotel. Because there is no standard for star ratings, they can name any hotel any star level. They claim that other sites also give it the same star level, but they are owned by the same company. Everyone else claim it as a 1 star hotel, even the hotels own website. This is how they save you money, they give you a lower quality hotel and claims its better. There is a reason they don't give you the hotels name, because you wouldn't book it otherwise. Please do a little research and you will find many other people with the same complaint as me. Plus try to deal with the customer service line, and you will be told, "It's your problem." Great, Right? Just saying, please do research before you book through them and I am positive you will use another site.

Guest's picture
t8937

Be careful with Hotwire. I was burned by a budget hotel that was sold as a three star. www.5thingshotwirewonttellyou.blog.com/

Guest's picture
Abhisehk

Eh...I just don't like Priceline. I want to see the price and then decide. This whole idea of bidding my own price and either being rejected or not....I don't have the patience for it.

Guest's picture
Guest

I am a hotwire "preferred customer" have been using it for years recently booked a hotel room in Fort Lauderdale the room rate was 151 dollars as compared to 176 dollars on the hotel web sit, however hotwire charged me an extra 27 dollars in fees and taxes, as compared to what the hotel would have charged. This was a standard room not the super secret one.

When I called hotwire the gentleman told me to call back was the hotel website is down, I was informed that I should check before I click and also that the since the room rate is lower they will not cancel my booking nor will they match the lower total. So basically we have your money and we will keep it if you done like it go some where else.Don’t take the preferred customer/ low rate guarantee too seriously we sure don’t. So what is the point of getting a low rate when hotwire fees, make the total amount great then what you pay directly to the hotel.

My advice is what hotwire told me always check with the hotels in the location first, don’t just trust hotwire to get you the lowest rates, and guarantee, preferred customer or not once you pay they will not care and are willing to lose future business. I am going to take my business else ware.

Guest's picture
Jerry

Be cautious when using Hotwire. Compare rates at various websites; don't trsut that you'll get a good deal on Hotwire. I've stayed at hotels where guests booking through regular (i.e. non-opaque) agents payed a lower rate than I got on Hotwire -- and didn't have Hotwire's $5-$8 fee on top of it. In fact, you can actually end up paying more on Hotwire than you would booking at the hotel's website -- especially if you qualify for a discount (AAA, senior, military affiliation).

I've stayed at a few hotels over the years, booked in various ways, but now rarely use Hotwire.