Where do you look for hotel rooms in a hurry?

22 September 2009

I stopped using the bigger online brands for last-minute room bookings after my dealings with Hotels.com earlier this year. I'd booked a room in London some six hours before I was due to check-in. There were no warnings at the booking or payment stage that there might be any problem, so when I arrived I was little irritated to find Hotels.com hadn't booked the room, and there were none left at the same rate.

Rather unexpectedly, I discovered the fault was entirely mine - according to Hotels.com customer service, I shouldn't have booked a room for same-day occupancy. Silly me. After nearly an hour of waiting for them to return my call, I was given the option of paying the higher room rate, or travelling a mile out my way at close to midnight to book in at another hotel. I strongly suggested a third option - they pay the higher room rate in the same hotel. Another 15 minutes later, they agreed. Smashing.

Plans change, shit happens, so booking up days or weeks in advance isn't always an option. I'm now fairly committed to Laterooms.com as the first site I check, especially when in London. There's are lots of bargains for all budgets, and plenty of very cheap deals too; Bayswater hotels are more miss than hit for quality, but they're usually half the price of the budget chains for on-the-day bookings.

Bitterwallet - Inoqo for late hotel deals

Another new service for late bookings has just launched on Twitter. Inoqo is essentially a collection of Twitter accounts; major cities in the US and Europe have their own account, as do some UK counties and other international locations. The idea is that you follow the account of the city you're interested in visiting, and Inoqo tweets last-minute deals, which then appear in your Twitter stream.

How last minute are the deals? Inoqo claims that it'll be dispensing plenty of cut-price deals valid from 48 hours beforehand, and that the deals will be unique to them. It's a little barren at the moment with the site only launching in the past week, but it has the potential to be a decent source of real-time deals.

So LateRooms.com and Inoqo aside, where do you seek out your late hotel deals?

TOPICS:   Travel   Social Media


  • SJT
    I tried hotwire.com for the first time this summer and was pleasantly surprised.... I'll be using that again (same day bookings ok)
  • jeff
    I recently used Laterooms when looking for a hotel, as I was running the Great North Run and needed a room the night before. Booked two weeks in advance. However, they failed to mention something quite important. The hotel that Laterooms booked me into, every saturday night, have a wedding reception with an all night disco. Kept me up till 2am, four hours sleep before running a half marathon. Wasn't amused.
  • Junkyard
    Inoqo sounds like an incredibly inconvenient way to manage hotel bookings compared to a dedicated website, but it's on Twitter therefore it must be fucking awesome. Who do I call to invest every penny I own in the company?
  • Brian
    Hi, my name is Brian. Are there any "loose women" at these hotels? Thanks
  • Paul S.
    How's it inconvenient, Junkyard? The point of using Twitter is plenty of users look at their account several times a day - and this (or any other business) squirts a deal into the list of messages they see - like an email alert popping up. I'm not sure how that's inconvenient at all? The actual booking isn't handled by Twitter, that's just a way to get notice of the deals to potential customers. There's plenty of shit on Twitter, but if this lot can find some genuine, low price, unique deals then it could be really good.
  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    I think I'd side with Junkyard on this. The problem with hotel deals in a twitter stream is that they don't have any of the additional data or comparison you need to make a room booking decision. Navigating between twitter streams as a way of determining location is a pretty poor experience (works fine if you only ever need a last minute hotel in London but likely most last minute bookers are going to be for business or frequent travellers which means they need to continually find the other streams). The constant tweets means that 99% of the time the info coming in from inoqo is going to be irrelevant to you also. Lastly, the deals are probably going to be the same ones as on Late Rooms and the like meaning all you've really got is a firehouse of all the same crap.
  • Paul S.
    I think the issue is that you're probably still infrequent Twitter users, and this service is probably going to cater for those who use Twitter more regularly. Increasingly Twitter use takes place through a third party app rather than Twitter's own site - a desktop app like Tweetdeck, which lets you filter multiple accounts in every way, shape and form. Nobody really "navigates" much - they simply follow a bunch of stuff and filter accordingly. I have a filter called Travel Deals, which pulls out all the tweets that offer flight and hotel deals into one stream. If I follow the relevant streams through Inoqo, they'll all appear here without causing any intereference to my other streams such as Friends or News. In terms of additional information, how much do you need? If I saw a tweet that said "London hotel, 4 star, £50pppn" and I needed a room - I'd at least click through the link where I'd find a full explanation. It's a tool for discovery - all you need is a headline and a call to action to grab attention. The real issue is whether Inaqo can find enough unique, low cost deals that hotels are happy to offer. To promise low costs is one thing, to promise you won't find them anywhere else seems like a tall order in a saturated marketplace dominated by global brands. I'm not sure they'll gain enough traction to make it all work.
  • Marcus S.
    So basically what you are saying is "this is a service aimed at the 5 people on the planet who could be arsed setting up an app just to read twitter, and who have an interest in a hotel room". lovely.
  • Michelle
    how about trying housetrip.com?

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