Jon and I have long been fans of Hotwire to book our adventures outside of Central Florida. In fact, over the last 8 years, we’ve used it 38 times and we’ve never been dissatisfied. It’s something plenty of our friends have asked us about but most of them have been a bit intimidated by using it. So, I thought I’d write a blog post to walk you through the process step by step! It’s the best way to take a cheap vacation and still have a great place to stay!
* This post is in no way sponsored. I just want to demystify the process of making vacations more affordable for my readers. There are pros and cons to using Hotwire and I’ll walk you through all of them. *
What is Hotwire?
It’s an online hotel-, car-, and flight-booking service. It allows you to get deeply discounted rates, particularly on hotels that have open rooms. The idea is that they would rather fill the room for a lower price than leave it empty and make nothing. So what’s the catch? You don’t know what hotel you’re getting until you actually book it. I know, that sounds scary, but stay with me. If you want to take a cheap vacation, I’ve got some easy tips to follow so you’re almost guaranteed a good experience.
How Does It Work?
We start by searching by the dates of our stay and the desired city. Then, and this is key, only choose 4-star hotels and up. Then we sort by price to see if we can afford a 4 star. It’s going to be a nice hotel if it has that star rating so, if there’s one that falls within our budget, it’s a no-brainer.
I’d recommend booking nothing below a 3.5 star if you’re planning to be in a city because a 3 star could be pretty basic. If you’re in a more rural area, say on a road trip, you’re probably safe with a 3 star, but I’d never go below that.
Make sure you take a look at the area where you’d like to be (different areas are highlighted in green on the map) and check the approval rating. We never book a hotel with an approval rating below 80%. We want a cheap vacation, not a crappy one. Sometimes, Hotwire will tell you what the last person to book a deal received as their hotel. It doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll get, but it gives you an idea.
In order to see your full price for the room you’re booking (taxes included), click “Book Now” and you’ll get to see what the final cost of the hotel.
Is It Foolproof?
We’ve only had one bad experience with a hotel and it was remedied immediately with a call to Hotwire’s customer service. The hotel was listed as 3 stars at the time we booked. Apparently it received several complaints after that. After we got into our room and saw how awful it was, we called Hotwire. They immediately booked us a new room at a nearby hotel for a lower price. They also downgraded the star rating for all future bookings of the hotel. All we had to do was give the keys back to the front desk and peace out. Hotwire took care of our refund.
We actually used Hotwire for our recent trip to Cincinnati and had an awesome experience. We booked the 4-star Westin on Fountain Square for $82 a night. The room usually goes for $229 when not booking through Hotwire!
Are There Any Down Sides to a Cheap Vacation?
The only negative we’ve found to using Hotwire is that you’re not the hotel’s favorite customer because you’re not paying full price. You’ll still get your expected services (housekeeping, concierge, breakfast if it’s normally included, etc.), but you’re more than likely not going to get special treatment (like a free upgrade). The hotels know you’re probably not coming back if you’re booking through Hotwire, but some still try to make loyal customers out of you by providing excellent service.
So give it a shot! And I’m always happy to help if you have any questions about the process! Feel free to e-mail, Facebook, or Tweet me any time! And if you’re here because you’re just dreaming of being a mom who explores, I’ve got you covered there too!