Sunday, January 24, 2016

Put on your Hotwire Hotel Deal Vacation Pants

Hotel Rosedale in Bakersfield, CA.  Found for only $45 bucks a night on Hotwire. 
This time My Vacation Pants teaches you how to find super cheap "secret" hotels using  Read on to find out how easy it is to find a deal on a hotel anywhere you want to travel to. 

It's time to start teaching you all how to find some great hotel deals on the internet.  One website I have used many, many times is called Hotwire.  The premise of Hotwire is that you select your criteria, dates, location, star level, and they give you a list of several "secret" hotels.  You select the one that looks most appealing, and only after you enter your credit card information and pay for it do they reveal the name of the hotel.  Scary, I know.  I was a little hesitant to try this website at first as well.  I thought, surely, they are tricking me.  They say I am only paying $49 a night for a three star, but it will turn out to be a dump for sure.  Well after years of using Hotwire to book my hotels, I am happy to say that I have found countless deals at otherwise unaffordable hotels.  The site works.  However, you do have to know your way around the website, so I'll walk you through how to book a killer hotel deal.  

Step 1:  Go to and click on the hotel tab. 

MVP (My Vacation Pants) Travel Tip:  The website offers hotels, rental cars, and flights, but I have always found the best deals using the hotel function.  I have also rented cars through hotwire a couple times too, but I seem to find better deals when I book my flights, hotels, and rental cars separately, and not together.  

Go ahead and fill in your information.  Put in a destination, dates, number of rooms, and number of people.  When my kids were babies, I would just put two people in, but now that they are older I count them.  They guarantee a sleeping space for each person you list.  So if you want two beds, you are going to to need to put at least three people in to the search engine.  I have made the mistake of just putting in two people and we get to the hotel to find out they only have rooms with one queen bed.  You can sometimes find cheaper deals for only two people, but it is worth paying a little extra to make sure you have a spot for everyone.  Now ,click the big red button.  

Step 2:  Now let me show you how to select the perfect hotel.  I stay in Anaheim, CA a lot because we got to Disneyland a lot, so that is the search criteria I put in for this example.  I also selected four people.  This is what came up.  

The list on the left hand side will list Hotwire's Top Picks first.  Sometimes it is a great deal, but you can do better.  Go ahead and make sure the tab on the top says you are on the hot rate hotels page, then right below it click "sort by" and then click "price: low to high".  This will now list your hotels in order from absolute cheapest to most expensive.  

Also, if you are not familiar with the area you are booking a hotel in, there is a map of regions on the right.  You can click the highlighted green area, and only the hotels in that area will show up on the left. You can select more then one region, so keep selecting until you have all the areas you would choose.  I usually leave it open because sometimes it is worth driving 30 minutes or so for a great deal.  Sometimes you have to be close because you don't have a car, so choose accordingly.  

So after changing my filter and making my list in order from cheapest to most expensive, I scrolled past all the one and two star hotels until I hit the first three star or higher hotel.  Wow!  I just found a three star hotel near Disneyland (Buena Park is the city next to Anaheim), for only 50 bucks a night.  But before you book it, there are some more things to look for before selecting a secret hotel.  First, make sure it is listed as the star level you prefer.  I find that the Hotwire hotels we have booked are well rated, and do seem to match the star level listing.  We have been burned picking star levels lower then three, but if we stay in the three stars above we are usually happy.  Now you can be dangerous and book a two and half star and get some amazing deals, but make sure you look at the percentage recommended.  If it is lower than 85 percent, don't do it.  Or be daring and do it, sometimes you can find a hidden little gem by taking a risk.  It's up to you.

Okay back to my find, notice that this is an all-suites hotel (that is super exciting because that means every room will have a kitchenette, a couch, and bed, so that is fun).  Also notice, it has free internet, and free parking listed in its amenities section.  If it is not listed as free they may charge for parking and internet.  Now the only thing that could spice this deal up a little more is being closer to Disneyland and having free breakfast.  Let's continue to scroll.  

Here is one on the list that is $69 a night, but it is much closer to Disneyland.  It has free internet and free parking, but still lacks free breakfast.  It does have a high rating, but not enough to tempt me.

I scrolled a little more and found two that have free internet, free parking, and free breakfast, but I wouldn't book this because they are way more expensive than my $50 find, and it's only 30 percent recommended.  I wouldn't risk it with ratings that low.  

This could be an option if I needed free breakfast and wanted to be closer.  I can feed my family breakfast for less than $32 dollars a night though, so I would probably pass. 

This is the cheapest three and half star option.  I understand some people (A.K.A. my mother in-law) don't like booking lower then a certain star level.  I get it.  Live it up, but please get a good deal.  

Here are some affordable 4 star options.

And for those of you that have to have a 5 star stay, you can book these for normally $500 - $800 night rooms for much cheaper.  Even rich people want a good deal, right? 

So all in all, I would stick with my initial find of $50 a night for an all suite hotel, with free parking and free breakfast, and with good reviews.  

Step 3:  Book your hotel.  Go ahead and click on the hotel in the list.  The above screen will pop up.  It gives you an idea of what possible hotel brands you might get.  If you are still comfortable with the names listed, go ahead and click book now.  Now look at the picture below,  it also gives you a list of hotel features, and a chance to upgrade to a room you would like.  It's usually cheapest to let the hotel choose your room for you.  Remember, they will give you enough sleeping places for the number you listed in your room search, so if you put four people, you're not going to get a room with just a queen bed.  I know it seems stressful to choose the unknown, but I'm telling you, it works.  

One final thing you can check before you book your secret hotel is the Trip Advisor ratings that are listed on the site.  Trip Advisor is one of my favorite travel sites because it gathers reviews and gives pretty accurate ratings for a hotel (I'll do a Trip Advisor post in the future).  Sometimes I cross check the site to see if I can figure out what hotel it might be. If I go to Trip Advisor and look up the three star Buena Park All Suite Hotels that have three and half circles, then compare the amenities available, I can often figure out the secret.  This is for those of you that just can't stand the unknown.  As I said before, I know it is hard to book blind, but with this little trick you may not have to.  You are definitely lowering the risk factor with a little detective work.  If you're still comfortable, go ahead and click "book now."
At this time, Hotwire will ask you to sign in to your account, or sign up for an account.  This is what the final page before booking looks like.  Make sure you check that the rate is correct.  Also, this is the first time they will show you how much your room will be with taxes and fees.  $10 dollars is not bad at all.  If the hotel charges a resort fee, it will tell you that you pay that directly to the hotel once you get there.  Another plus about this hotel is that even though it is in a resort area, it does not charge a resort fee.  Awesome!

Click "book now".  Your credit card will be charged and your hotel will be booked.

Now, the name of your hotel will be revealed.  Voila, this is what I got.  Looks nice to me!  You can now check out the listing on Trip Advisor for the hotel you booked to make sure you got a deal.  Which, from the looks of it, I did!!! 

Still not convinced? Take a look at the list of past hotel purchases we have made on Hotwire:

  • Holiday Inn Resort, Galveston, TX, three stars, $77 a night, January 2016
    Super nice pool right across from the ocean.

    The pier is nearby too.  Phil is pointing out his excitement.

    Look at the view from our balcony. #handsome

    We definitely got a pool view.

    Combined with an ocean view.  Nice. 

    This is the view from the corridor.  We were getting on that Disney Cruise Ship in the distance. 
  • Staybridge Suites - Austin Airport, Austin, TX, three stars, $84 a night, January 2016
    The kids eating breakfast from their couch bed.

    Gotta love a breakfast bar with Texas shaped malted waffles. 
  • Hotel Rosedale, Bakersfield, CA, three stars, $45 a night, December 2015
    Great Breakfast.  Malted waffles make me happy. 
    The hotel corridors were unique.

    Yep, that's a teeter totter at a hotel.  

    The pool area.  Nice hot tub. 

    The patio area with a pool view.
  • Hyatt Place, Phoenix, AZ, three stars, $65 a night, December 2015
    Phil had a brothers night.  A perfect place for a bro getaway. 
  • ALO Hotel by Ayres, Garden Grove, CA, 3 and 1/2 stars, $80 a night, October 2015
  • Crowne Plaza, San Diego, CA, 3 and 1/2 stars, $89 a night, July 2015

    My daughter enjoying a book in the comfy bed. 
  • Best Western Plus - Flathead Lake, Kallispell, MT - 2 and a 1/2 stars, $99 a night, June 2015
    This place was great.  They had cheese blintzes at breakfast and a great view. 
  • Wyndham - Anaheim Garden Grove, CA, 3 and 1/2 stars, $79 a night, April 2015
    Once I found out that I had gotten this place on Hotwire, I called and asked if they would upgrade us to the bunk bed rooms, and lo and behold, they did!
  • Best Western Casa Grande, Arroyo Grande, CA, 2 stars, $85 a night, March 2015
    Cute little breakfast nook area.

    The lobby was super amazing looking.

    The grand stair case in the lobby. 
  • Desert Palms Hotel and Suites, Anaheim, CA, 3 stars, $66 a night, January 2015
  • Aquarius Casino Resort, Laughlin, NV, 3 and a 1/2 stars, $35 a night, November 2014
  • Holiday Inn Express, San Diego, CA, 3 stars, $65 a night, October 2014
    Any hotel that  has a  bed that can fit a family of 4 for a selfie is a friend of ours.
  • Ayres Suites, Corona, CA, 3 and a 1/2 stars, $55 a night, August 2014
  • Embassy Suites, Brea, CA, 3 and a half stars, $69 a night, July 2014
    We love Embassy Suites.  They all have an amazing jungle atrium lobbies with fantastic breakfasts and they are an all suite hotels.  Plus this time, they upgraded us for free.  Nice touch.  
  • Holiday Inn Express, Show Low, CA, 3 stars, $70 a night, March 2014
    We enjoyed the inside bridge between the buildings.

    Totem Pole
    It also had a small little playground.  Great for young kiddos. 

  • Prescott Hotel and Conference Center, Prescott, AZ, 3 and 1/2 stars, $69 a night, March 2014
    Hanging poolside.

    Sweet indoor pool that we got all to ourselves.

    Enjoying the hotel furniture.

    This was the view from the back terrace of the hotel.  Prescott is beautiful.  It sits on a hilltop, so you can see everything.

    Look a this kid.  He's so cool, and so is the nice bed.
  • Luxor Resort, Las Vegas, NV, 4 stars, $34 a night, July 2013

    The lobby.
    In front of the hotel.

    What a steal!  My mom got us an upgrade for $34 bucks a night.  Cheapest I've ever paid for a 4 star hotel.
  • Colton Inn, Monterey, CA, 2 and a 1/2 stars, $102 a night, June 2013
  • Holiday Inn, Santa Maria, CA, 3 stars, $64 a night, June 2013
    My bro in law made some killer breakfast burritos here. 

    Huge rooms. 
  • Ramada, Hagerstown, MD, 3 stars, $56 a night, March 2013
  • Doubletree Hotel, Wilmington, DE, 3 and a 1/2 stars, $66 a night, March 2013
  • Best Western Plus - Chincoteague Island, VA, 2 and a 1/2 stars, $54 a night, March 2013
    The kiddos insist on making little beds out of hotel furniture. 

    Chincoteague Island is known for their wild ponies that roam the island.  We found some Un-wild ponies across the street from the hotel. 
  • The Padre Hotel - Bakersfield, CA, 3 and a 1/2 stars, $56 a night, December 2012
    This was such a cool hotel.  It was an old hotel all glammed up for a new age.
  • Best Western Seven Seas, San Diego, CA, 3 stars, $45 a night, December 2012
    Sometimes, if you are real sweet, they will upgrade you to a suite with a hot tub.  That's always fun.  
  • Knott's Berry Farm Resort Hotel, Buena Park, CA, 3 and a 1/2 stars, $55 a night, November 2012
  • Sheraton Hotel, Cerritos, CA, 3 and a 1/2 stars, $66 a night, April 2012

Well, there you have it.  What are you waiting for?  Go book a hotel and then come back and tell me about the amazing deal(s) you found! 

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