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There is a lot of information online (including at InsideFlyer!) on how to maximise value when staying at chain hotels – whether that’s through bonus points, discount rates, status benefits or myriad other ways.
But what about those stays when there are no chain hotels, when you just fancy something a bit different, or maybe (like many people) you simply do not travel enough to make finding out about traditional hotel loyalty programmes worthwhile?
This series of posts is designed to show that you don’t have to miss out on extra value, just because you’re not staying with one of the big chains!
Part Six: Hotel Tonight – Big Savings for Last Minute Bookings
Hotel Tonight is a mobile app that allows you to quickly and easily book hotel rooms at the last minute. When it started you could only book stays the same day or the day before, but now you can book up to seven days in advance.
The app is pretty good and it does make booking hotels on-the-go quite convenient, but there are lots of decent booking apps these days.
The real point of Hotel Tonight is that by only allowing last minute (well, ‘last week’) bookings, they can negotiate a great deal with their partner hotels for rooms that probably wouldn’t otherwise get sold.
Sounds plausible in theory, does it work?
Yes, but not all the time or everywhere.
For big cities in Europe and the US it’s actually very useful indeed.
A quick glance at the options in London tonight (22nd February when I checked), had the 4* ‘Myhotel Bloomsbury’ for £81.00 – a lot cheaper than the next cheapest site I could find, where the same room was £119.28.
The 5* Westbury Mayfair could be had for £129.00 rather than £192.66.
The stand out saving though was 4* ‘The Academy’ for £89.00 rather than £164.00 elsewhere.
Looking at booking one day in advance, impressive discounts can still be found, eg. the Hilton Doubletree Excel is a bargain at £68.00 compared to £148.00 direct – saving more than 50%!
Similarly good deals were easy to find for New York, Chicago, Paris, Dubai etc.
Dubai doesn’t really do it for me personally, but if you’re a fan, a 2-bedroom Ocean Suite at the 5* Kempinski Hotel and Residences looks fun, and could be had for £228.00 rather than £424.00 when booked one day in advance, so that might be worth keeping an eye out for!
As a general rule of thumb, discounts can be very good if you book 1-48 hours before, and get progressively less impressive the further away your stay is. I can’t easily find any savings better than about 20% looking 6-7 days in advance.
Where Hotel Tonight seems much less useful is for smaller cities and towns. The range of hotels aren’t terribly impressive, and the prices are sometimes actually higher than you can find elsewhere online – even when booking the same day.
How to make the most of Hotel Tonight
- Always check the prices available elsewhere online to see if/how much you are genuinely saving. – might you be better off booking somewhere else and getting cashback/loyalty points instead?
- Be as flexible as possible, because the really big savings don’t seem to get offered until the last day or two. The trick here is to have a good backup plan in case nothing suitable turns up on Hotel Tonight. Book a refundable rate (if it isn’t significantly more expensive) at a hotel you wouldn’t mind staying at, or use hotel points if you have them. Award bookings using hotel points often allow you to cancel with a full refund of your points right up until 2-4pm on the day you are due to check-in (but always check the specific conditions of your reservation!).
- When you download the app and Sign Up, add the code JDEENEY9 when asked if you have a promo or signup code, and you will get £15.00 off your first booking of £85.00+ (I also get £15.00 – so thanks!)