Using Hotwire for cheap vacation hotels : My mixed experience visiting Portland, OR
So I decided to take a vacation to Portland, OR. It would have required a night of overnight stay so I started looking for good hotels online. Since we were 4 people I wasn’t able to use a lot of websites. Sites like Hoteltonight.com don’t even have an option to configure the number of people in a room. Not wanting to argue with check-in staff later, I started to use Hotwire to book my hotel, I would like to point out that at this point Priceline was unable to find me a hotel for my price and Hotwire was in fact showing me such a hotel. Pricewire is also a much more shitty interface. Maybe all the money they pay Kaley Cuoco and William Shatner came from product development. For those uninitiated with Hotwire, here is how it works, you tell Hotwire your hotel location and check-in and checkout dates and Hotwire will show you hotels available with amenities and ratings from their customers. The actual hotel names and locations are only revealed post booking. Kind of like Name your price tool of Priceline except you don’t have to keep guessing a price.
Anyway, so day 1, I search for hotels in Portland, OR. I got a nice 3 star hotel for $100. Remember the stars here are their own ratings and 3 star doesn’t really mean anything. It turned out to be Extended Stay America in Hillsboro, OR. The location was pretty premium and I was happy. We drive down to Crater Lake in the morning, calling at 11am to confirm our booking at Extended Stay. We checked in at 8pm and lo and behold, crap unfolds. I am told there are only smoking rooms available and there is ‘no wiggle room’ to fix it. Wait, didn’t I just pay you in advance and book my room. The hotel was sparsely staffed. At 9pm, I really was in no mood to fight with customer service and find another room. I did leave poor feedback after the stay to Hotwire, no followup from the company. Boo ! Also, the taxes and fee is a little shady at Hotwire :
This is what they claim :
Unhappy with our demotion to a smoking room and no remorse, I didn’t want to extend my stay at ironically named Extended Stay America. I was able to get a better deal near the Portland Airport area, less prime area, no breakfast but $20 cheaper. It turned out to be a Holiday Inn. The hotel was much nicer and cleaner. No free breakfast though. Again see the disproportionate tax and fee added.
Overall I think I did save some money thanks to Hotwire, however be careful about these loopholes like no smoking rooms. I also read online about some people landing at their hotels only to be told the hotel was overbooked and then hotwire making them do the turnaround. I would advise to use Amex cards in that case. Amex has very consumer friendly policies, I would just take it in written that the hotel room was not available, book another room and chargeback Hotwire and sure them. Even though they may have terms against this and USA’s most stupid arbitration laws are applicable here.
Would I use hotwire again, probably only if I save a lot, but I would be very aggressive about pushing and flexing my rights. So if you do book through them, call and confirm your booking even though hotwire tells you not to. You do end up saving some money. For some people $15 you save maybe an expense they are prepared to give for peace of mind.