Hotwire hotels can be one of the best ways to save money on your stay. Better yet, you don’t have to guess which hotel you’re booking. It’s easier than ever to figure it out and save a lot of money in the process. Keep reading to learn how to discover what hotel you’re getting and whether or not Hotwire hotels are the screaming deal they claim to be.
Imagine going to Disneyland and paying $67 for a hotel. If you’re booking on a standard, travel search engine, you’ll see the regular, low-budget freeway motels at this price. But if you’re booking on Hotwire Hotels, it could be a four-star hotel near the beach for the same price.
How Hotwire Can Offer Ultra-Low Prices
For those unfamiliar with the business, Hotwire is a booking service that operates on the concept that unsold hotel rooms can be offered to travelers at deep discounts if they’re willing to book without knowing the name of the hotel. Keeping the name of the hotel a secret allows Hotwire to sell hotel rooms without diluting the core, brand-loyal traveler base for chains like Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, IHG, and more.
Changes made in the last few years make it simple to “guess” which hotel you’re getting. Currently, clues are listed directly on their website.
How to Tell What Hotel You’re Getting on Hotwire
There are a number of details Hotwire shares with a prospective customer that give you clues about which hotel you’re booking, including:
- Number of reviews
- Hotel rating
- General location
- Guest rating
- Pictures of the hotel
- Booking hints
Here’s an example of how to use the clues.
Searching for a hotel in San Diego for October yields a long list of hotels, including a five-star hotel for $219 that looks classy.
If you want to quickly find out what hotel this is, use Hotwire’s filter to limit the list to five-star hotels.
With your narrowed-down list, you can more easily compare the guest rating, number of reviews from Expedia, sample picture provided, or amenities to find out what hotel you’re booking.
Compare the Number of Guest Reviews
One of the easiest ways to find out the name of your hotel is to compare the number of Expedia reviews listed.
You’ll find the number here:
Then, either scroll down to the section where hotel names are listed or click on standard rate hotel.
Find the hotel that has the exact same number of Expedia reviews as the mystery hotel.
You’ll notice the other details match – the 4.7 guest rating, a price within $1 of the original hotel, and most of the amenities.
You can also use this method in reverse. You pick what hotel you want and find the matching number of reviews on a mystery hotel.
Use the “What Hotel Will I Get?” Tool
Another tool to help you determine the name of a hotel quickly is the text link, What hotel will I get?
Hotwire may show you three options after you click it. Clicking the button again will give you three more options, and one or two will be different. If you click it enough times, you’ll see one hotel that shows up over and over again. That’s the one you’ll get.
Sometimes, this tool just lists general hotel brands, and you’ll have to use the other methods to determine what hotel you’ll get.
Use Google Reverse Image Search on the Sample Photo
A reverse image search can also be helpful for finding out what hotel you’ll get. In most hotel listings, Hotwire includes a sample photo, usually one from inside the hotel. By right-clicking the image and scrolling to “Search Google for image” you’ll find the source of the image, which will be the “mystery” hotel.
If you’re still in doubt, sometimes Hotwire provides this hint:
I’d say they want your business.
Is the Price for the Hotwire Hotel a Good Deal?
Google Hotels is a fantastic tool for comparing the price of a hotel room across dates and booking engines. If you put in the dates and the name of hotel, it’ll spit this out for you:
Compared with $397 per night, Hotwire’s $219 rate for the Four Seasons looks really good.
What Are Hotwire’s Fees?
Before we book this deal, there’s one more thing we have to look at: taxes and fees. If the booking fees increase the price of the hotel back to retail price, then it doesn’t make sense to book through Hotwire.
Here’s a look at the price summary:
You’ll see the cost for the hotel room, taxes and fees, and resort fees. If you’re staying at a hotel with a resort fee, you’ll pay it no matter what way you book, so we can ignore this when comparing prices.
Taxes and fees are $311.94. Annoyingly, all taxes and booking fees are lumped into this category, so it’s not immediately obvious how much we’re paying to use this service.
However, we can figure out the tax rate for the San Diego area, subtract that from the taxes and fees, and find the amount we’re paying to use Hotwire’s booking service. (Bonus: You won’t have to do this for your own Hotwire hotel if you read this.)
Taxes collected for San Diego are approximately 12.5 percent, which works out to $164.25. Subtracted from $311.94 leaves us with $147.69 for the booking fee. Divided by six nights, the cost of booking through Hotwire each night comes out to $25, or a little more than 10 percent.
After adding the booking fee in, we’re still saving more than $150 every night. You come out way ahead booking with Hotwire in this example.
What Else to Watch out For
To get the most value out of Hotwire, you’ll find the best deals on last-minute offers and deals in the app. A sweet spot seems to be four-star hotels, which means travelers can upgrade their hotel experience without spending more.
You’ll probably also notice that some hotels with a mystery price aren’t much different from a listing on any other travel booking engine. Once you figure out the hotel and see what it costs, you may find the deal isn’t really a deal. When the savings aren’t significant, you’re better off booking directly with the hotel.
Refer A Friend
Hotwire will be rolling out a Refer-A-Friend program much like AirBnb’s. You can refer friends to Hotwire and they will get $20 off their first booking — and you’ll get $20, too. You could quickly stack up a lot of Hotwire credits by helping your friends and family save money.
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