Both sites offer cheap bookings with a caveat — there’s something of a guess factor involved when using either one because you’re bidding on hotel rooms and won’t find out the name of the hotel you wind up selecting until after you pay non-refundable money.
That might be a no-go for a lot of people.
Fortunately, there’s a workaround that might allow you to figure out what hotel you’ll likely get before you book.
Take the guesswork out of booking Priceline and Hotwire
Try these tips to take a little bit of the blind out of blind booking a mystery hotel!
Like Priceline, Hotwire will disclose the names of some hotels as you’re scrolling through your search results after entering a location and picking dates:
So that’s a nice way to get some transparency if the price is right.
But when you find a so-called “Hot Rate” deal, the name is never disclosed. Hotwire just lists the star rating. Yet that doesn’t mean you can’t get a better idea of what hotel it might be.
When you click through on a Hot Rate deal, you’ll get the option to see four likely hotels. It’s guaranteed to be one of the four.
So there’s not a lot of work necessary to get a solid idea of what hotel you’re booking with Hotwire.
Leave it to Priceline to really make you work when you want to know the name of your mystery hotel…
Figuring out which hotel you’re likely to get on Priceline is going to involve a little bit of math.
First, select your location and travel dates. For the purposes of this illustration, we’ve selected Vatican City in Rome and gotten three search results.
Let’s say you’re interested in the five-star hotel — which at $592 (a 28% discount) is admittedly very pricey! But for the sake of argument, let’s say that’s the one.
When you click the amenities on that five-star hotel for $592, you see it offers both a swimming pool and an airport shuttle.
So right there you have a big difference — while all three hotels offer basic amenities (non-smoking rooms, restaurant, etc.), the five-star hotel for $592 is the only hotel that offers a swimming pool and airport shuttle.
Those are a couple of key differentiators that you’re going to use to search again, and they’ll help you get a viable answer about which hotel that five-star really is.
Next, you want to open another tab and start your Priceline search all over again, selecting the same neighborhood and the same dates of travel. Only this time, you’re going to specify that you only want to see hotels in Vatican City with those two specific amenities — a swimming pool and an airport shuttle.
When you do that, you get these results:
The first one is a repeat of the original listing you just saw. It’s the second one you want to pay attention to. This example is easy because there’s only one other choice. But note that price on the second hotel — $818. That’s the list price for the Gran MeliÃ¡ Rome.
Here’s where the math comes in. Remember the $592 five-star hotel was advertised as being 28% off list price? You need to know what’s 28% of $818. If you do the math, you’ll see that it’s $229.
When you subtract $229 (28%) from $818, what do you get? $589. While it’s not $592 down to the penny, it’s well within the margin of error. So now you’ve established that when you book a hotel originally listed at $818 at 28%, you would expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $589 to $592.
Bingo — that’s the confirmation of the mystery hotel’s identity you’ve been looking for. And for corroborating evidence, you know that the Gran MeliÃ¡ Rome is the only hotel in or near Vatican City that’s in the Priceline inventory and has an airport shuttle and a swimming pool.
It’s that easy…not!
Special thanks to FromDiamWithLove.com for bringing this method to our attention.
Not good with math? These sites offer a simpler alternative
If you don’t want to fool around with any of the math and all the multiple tabs and all the detective work that you have to do with the above method, there a couple of free websites out there will do the guess work for you.