• Rebecca Blackmon

What is Hotwire and How Does it Work?

Recently, I used Hotwire for the first time and wanted to share my experience with you all. I was a little skeptical at first because I didn’t know anything about it and didn’t want it to be a scam. It actually ended up being one of the best money-saving tools I’ve ever used while traveling!

What is Hotwire?

Hotwire is a third party company that helps you book last minute hotel deals for a fraction of the cost. When I say last minute, I do mean last minute - it really is meant for booking only a day or two in advance. They work by finding hotel rooms that have not been booked - and likely will not be booked - and offering them to Hotwire customers at a significantly lower price. This works because the hotels would rather make some money on a discounted room than no money at all on a vacant room, and obviously people are much more inclined to pay the cheaper rates.

What is the booking process like?

This is where it gets interesting. First of all, Hotwire has a website and an app. I used the app because I typically find them more convenient (but that’s totally preference). You tell the app what city you’re in, and you can specify if there’s a specific area you’d like to stay in (e.g. “LoDo District in Denver”). You also specify how many stars you want your hotel to be, and what amenities you cannot do without. Next, a list of hotels pops up. You’ll see the hotel’s general location on a map, you’ll see the original cost and what it’s been marked down to, and you’ll see it’s ratings and reviews. Here’s the kicker: the app does NOT tell you the name of the hotel before you book. Why? Because the hotels don’t want to cheapen their brand. If I can get on the app and see that Hilton has clearly partnered with Hotwire to offer a $150 room for $75, why would I ever go to Hilton directly and book the room for $150? So, in that sense, it’s a little bit of a gamble. You don’t know exactly what you’re getting, and when you book through Hotwire all sales are final, even if you don’t like your hotel. BUT - Hotwire cannot lie about the hotel’s ratings. They legally cannot tell you it’s a 4-star hotel if it’s actually only a 2.5-star, so you can at least guarantee the quality of the hotel will be exactly what you want it to be. After you book, Hotwire sends you an email with the exact details of your booking, like what hotel it is and where it’s located.

What kind of rooms do you get?

To get the lowest fare possible, you don’t know what the sleeping arrangements will be in your room. You will be able to guarantee that everyone in your party has a place to sleep, but that’s about all. However, you have the option to pay a little bit more (pretty menial - something like $10 more) to get the exact beds that you want. For example: when I used Hotwire, I went to Denver with a friend to run a half marathon. We didn’t care if we had two smaller beds or one larger bed, so we went with the lowest fare possible and didn’t specify. We ended up with one king size bed. The room we got was absolutely amazing. It didn’t feel like a “discounted” room at all. It had a living room and kitchen and a separate bedroom. I will say, based on a lot of reviews I read, the location of the room might not be ideal - because you aren’t paying full price, they give the best rooms to people who are. A lot of people talked about their rooms being right off the elevator, or down a really long hallway, or next to the ice maker. Those locations might be considered less than ideal, but if you can get over that detail, the quality of the inside of the room is the exact same. Our room in Denver was right off the elevator bank, but because our room had a separate bedroom we were not bothered by outside noise at all.

So, how much can you really save?

On our trip to Denver, we found a room that was originally $175/night, and through Hotwire we paid $102/night. We ended up saving about 40% on our hotel. If you are a frequent traveler, or someone traveling on a budget, that money adds up FAST!

All in all, I HIGHLY recommend Hotwire to everyone, especially those of you that are trying to save money. We had zero problems and our room was super nice. As long as you aren’t really picky about what hotel chain you stay with, etc. then this is a great option for your next trip!


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