Hot deals on hotel rooms

Got a teepee budget but a 4-star hotel appetite? Hotwire can help.

Got a teepee budget but a 4-star hotel appetite? There are plenty of online tools to help you score a great, cheap room.

There’s a time and a place for spending an ungodly amount of money on lodging – wooing your significant other, making up for irritating your significant other and being close to a particular area of town. But more often that not, you can save money AND still get a great room with a little detective work.

Take, Caitlyn and me: We’re visiting Montreal and Toronto this spring. For Montreal, I booked a room directly through the hotel’s website because, hey, Montreal is the Paris of Canada and that just screams “woo me.” Toronto, on the other hand, while a very cool city, you really can’t go wrong with booking a room through one of the many third-party travel sites out there because, no matter what, you’ll be close to either the subway or all the action.

But between Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz and Hotwire, just to name a few, where does one start? Each has its merits.

Priceline:  Lets you make an offer for a certain class or star-rating of hotel, but you don’t get to see the name unless the hotel and you both accept the bid. Reports are that Priceline is phasing out this approach for a more traditional Expedia-like format.

Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz: Will sometimes provide extra incentives, like on-board credit if you book a cruise room through them. Unlike with Priceline’s “name your own price,” you get to see profiles for each hotel.

Hotwire: Like to throw caution to the wind? Go with Hotwire, which doesn’t tell you the name of your hotel until you pay, rather, it just tells you the area of town and star rating. The trade-off with Hotwire is you can often land a much more swank room than your budget would normally allow.

I’m a bit of a hotel snob, and will refuse to book anything less than a 3.5-star (out of 5 star) room, but I like to be frugal with my lodging, so my preferred site of choice is Hotwire. I’ve had nothing but great experiences booking through Hotwire, staying at the swank Omni in Pittsburgh, hipster-friendly Hotel Lincoln in Chicago and in a couple months, the modern (exterior excluded) Hyatt Regency in Toronto — the latter of which saved us several hundred dollars off another comparable hotel I was looking at booking through the hotel’s website. It also helps if you’re a procrastinator, as hotels will sometimes put rooms on Hotwire at continuously deeper discounts the closer it is to your travel date.

Not much for taking a leap of faith when booking a hotel room? Follow these four steps to put your mind at ease with Hotwire:

  1. Hotwire lists the names of some major hotel partners for each star rating and area of town, so you’re not “completely” blind. But that’s only a partial list; more and more independent hotels have been partnering with Hotwire in recent years, so predicting your hotel isn’t as easy as it once was.
  2. Pull up Google Maps and learn what hotels are in your desired area of town to narrow down the possibilities before sealing the deal with Hotwire. Then research those hotels and see if you would be disappointed with any of those, should they end up being your Hotwire hotel.
  3.  Some message boards feature “spoilers” from recent Hotwire customers naming the hotel they received based on the star rating and area of town. NOTE: This is great, but usually only if you’re booking within the same time frame as the poster.
  4. Once again, I never, ever get a Hotwire room that is less than a 3.5-star hotel. The one and only time I booked a room below that rating threshold was a less-than-stellar hotel. The reason for my rule is that Hotwire doesn’t always have the same standards as AAA for grading hotels, thus, a “4.5-star hotel” on Hotwire might, in reality, turn out to be more like a 4-star or 3.5-star site.

Feel free to post your Hotwire experiences below.

Next post: Welcome to Buckeye Country, Part 1 (food)

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One Comment on “Hot deals on hotel rooms

  1. I have stayed in a Wigwam Hotel just like this in Rialto, CA on Route 66 near San Bernardino. The owners have done a beautiful job renovating this property and it is spic and span and so much fun. Raunchy neighborhood, though.

    I am the Priceline Queen but sometimes those business hotels are so boring.
    Once got a fantastic Priceline deal on a Quality Inn in Montreal — right in the center of town. It was a 2* — but clean, comfortable, and convenient.

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