I used to think Hotwire and Priceline bidding were useless, but due to some recent changes, you can easily know exactly which hotel you’re going to get and therefore the value of your savings.
Recently, I booked Hyatt’s new Eliza Jane Hotel in New Orleans for $89! It was an awesome hotel that was going for easily double… yet I knew I would be booking it for $89 via Hotwire’s mystery hotel.
Then I used this trick again to book the Le Meridian Mexico City for $72, when it was otherwise going for $200!
It used to require extreme guess-work to know your Hotwire hotel, but I’ll show you just how easy it is now.
Before, I would guess which hotel the mystery hotel was (via forums and process of elimation) and I’d often be wrong. And more often than not, the real hotel would turn out to be a cheap one bookable for the price they advertised on other platforms, without it being a mystery. So until the recent changes I stayed away, and now I at least always check!
Hotwire Now (Mostly) Narrows Down To 4 Hotels
Note that I was doing all my Hotwire bookings pretty last minute, like within a day or two. But either way, you should always look up what the hotel would normally cost on other platforms to see if you’re actually getting a savings.
The process is easy:
Run a search, as you would normally. However, I personally filter for “Hot Rate Hotels”, since Hotwire is not where I go to look for normal rates.
I may also filter by the star rating and possibly the area I’d like to stay in, or just browse for the best savings.
The crossed out price to show you your big savings is somewhat arbitrary, since it isn’t actually the bookable price of that same hotel when not listed as a mystery hotel. However, I look at their claimed savings to find deals, or just look for good prices for a star category.
Once you click on a Hot Rate Hotel, scroll down just a little to see if it narrows down the mystery hotel to 4 hotels.
Which Of The 4?
Now I’ve clicked “Show hotels”…
Hotwire has always given you basic info – like star rating, TripAdvisor rating, amenities, etc…
Except, now they narrow it down to four possible hotels, yet, in this example, two of the four hotels have different TripAdvisor ratings!
With one click, we’ve narrowed this mystery hotel down to the Hyatt Regency and Ace Hotel in New Orleans.
(Ignore the fact that it says that the last person booked the Hyatt, because you may or may not get the same thing as the last person).
Use the number of TripAdvisor Ratings next.
Note that in the last picture, it not only says the hotel has a 4.0 TripAdvisor rating, it also says it has “2,000+ reviews”.
I quickly Googled both hotels to see the number of TA reviews and found that the Hyatt has over 4,000 and the Ace has under 500…
In one click, and two Google searches, I quickly found that the mystery “Hot Rate” hotel was the Hyatt Regency.
This isn’t the biggest savings in the world (not as much as when I got the Eliza Jane), but the Hyatt Regency in this hypothetical demonstration was bookable on Hotwire standard hotels for $319 and as a mystery hotel for $231.
That’s a savings of $88, pre-tax. However, you now lose the ability to earn points for a promotion. Personally, I’d prefer a savings of $88, but this depends on the promotions and if you’re needing elite night credits.
One note about the accuracy of the number of TripAdvisor reviews.
Please note that sometimes Hotwire is slightly behind in how many TripAdvisor reviews a hotel has. So if the mystery hotel has “501 – 1,000” reviews, and on TripAdvisor one of your suspected hotels has 1,050 reviews… that may not elimate it from being a possibility.
The number of reviews that Hotwire thinks it has will be shown when you find the hotel on standard rates, and click through.
In this case, Hotwire says the Hyatt has 4389 reviews… which as of this minute, is only 8 reviews off. But I did see one example that was nearly 100 off. So make sure you don’t elimate a hotel slightly over the projected reviews.
A Few Other Tricks
One almost comically easy trick is hitting refresh. Below is an example where all four hotels matched the 4.5 TA rating:
And then I hit refresh… and one of the hotels was different, showing a 4 star TA rating.
Therefore I narrowed down the hotels, from four to three, just by hitting refresh.
The Hot Rates hotel should also list what amenities it has. If it has a pool, and one of the other hotels does not, you could use process of elimination to further narrow the hotel.
Do not use Hotwire reviews!
This is not to be confused with TripAdvisor reviews. The hotel preview card (on Standard hotels) will show a rating and number of reviews… but it refers to the internal Hotwire review system.
To make things more confusing… This is different than the rating and reviews you see at the top of the Hot Rates Hotel. I’m guessing that review (and # of reviews) refers to people who have booked this hotel using Hot Rates (mystery) Hotel bookings.
I’m looking at one hotel on Hot Rates and the same hotel on the standard hotel, and one has 19 reviews and the other page says “based on 778 reviews”. Same hotel, but different review systems.
That’s the best sense I can make of it…
If it doesn’t narrow down to 4…
- Go to standard hotels
- Filter by star rating (“class”)
- Then use the details below for process of elimitation
Ways to use process of elimination to figure out your hotel:
- TripAdvisor Rating
- # of TripAdvisor reviews
- Neighborhood (as shown on the Hot Rates map)
- “Amenities” (i.e. Pool? Restaurants? etc…)
My personal advise is that if there are 100 4 star (for example) hotels in a defined area, you’ll never guess right. Just don’t waste your time doing the process of elimation. This is the old way of doing Hotwire, and it sucks. You get it wrong, and then you get some off-brand hotel that defines itself as a 4 star hotel when it isn’t.
However, if there are only a couple in the area, it should be obvious, and you can use the details above to verify you’re getting the right hotel.
I booked two 4 star hotels for under $90 that were otherwise going for $200!
Yes, you forfeit the ability to earn points, but no rewards program (outside of a great promo) is giving a 100% return on value, so why pay double?
However, don’t be fooled into booking something because of the savings. Scout your other options. Perhaps a similar hotel is bookable for the same price, and you could complete a promotion.
If I could’ve booked an IHG hotel and completed my promo for the same price (which I later did), then I would’ve opted for that instead. But at the time of booking, the other options (including IHG) were at least $50 more expensive, and a 3 star hotel (like the Holiday Inn). Here I saved money and got a very nice hotel.
Hotwire can save a ton of money and it’s worth checking when you don’t have a great points option! But remember to check what the price would be not as a mystery hotel, and remember to check other options.