I have a confession to make – I’m not loyal. When it comes to hotels, I don’t really care much for the brand or getting loyalty points. I just want to sleep on a clean and comfortable bed in a clean room in a good location, or with good enough transport links to get me to the city centre or wherever I need to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I do subscribe to the loyalty programmes of Accor Hotels, IHG (Intercontinental Hotels Group), Hilton and Marriott/Starwood, but I only book those named chain hotels when it’s the best value option – for example, the free breakfast I get as a Hilton Honors Gold Member might sway me towards spending a little bit more on a Hilton room rather than a slightly cheaper secret rate hotel without breakfast.
What are secret hotel rates?
The three major players in the secret hotel game are hotwire, Priceline and Lastminute. They all provide the option to search for a secret rate hotel, where you aren’t told the hotel name until after you’ve booked. In return you’re likely to score the room for significantly cheaper than the published hotel rate. What’s also great about these secret hotel websites is that you can combine them with TopCashback to get even more money back on the hotel rate.
The secret hotel booking sites do provide some information before the payment stage, including star rating, general location and a list of amenities. In most cases, the information provided is enough to enable you to deduce the exact hotel that’s on offer!
In fact, of the dozens of secret rate hotels I’ve booked over the years, I’m pleased to report that I’ve been able to determine the exact hotel I’ll be booking before I’ve paid with a 100% success rate so far – this is great as it gives me the chance to cross-check the rate on offer with that on the hotels own website and comparison sites such as Trivago, and also checking out the hotel’s reviews on TripAdvisor and Google before committing to staying there.
How can you find out the secret hotel name before you book?
There are a few ways of doing this:
One website in particular – Hotwire – provides the TripAdvisor rating, and roughly the number of ratings (e.g. 500-1000) on the secret hotel page. This, combined with the location, star rating and amenities, which are publicised before the payment stage make it relatively easy to triangulate which hotel is on offer.
BetterBidding is a website that has a huge database of the secret hotels on Priceline and Hotwire. The hotels are listed by name, location and their relevant star ratings and amenities. In most cases this will enable you to narrow the secret hotel down to only one or two potential hotels.
I’ve found BetterBidding.com to be a really useful source of reliable secret hotel information. I am sure to call upon it whenever I book secret rate hotels. Check it out at www.betterbidding.com
Google works best for the Top Secret hotels on lastminute.com – it’s as simple as copy and pasting the hotel description and searching – often the search results will include the hotel’s own website, or a discussion forum where a previous customer has revealed the name of the hotel they ended up booking.
The Bottom Line
I don’t just book secret rate hotels because they’re way cheaper than published rate hotels – I do it because it’s fun! I find that there’s something really thrilling about booking a hotel and not knowing with 100% certainty which one it’s going to be.
Remember that you can book these secret hotels through TopCashback and effectively get even more money off an already hugely discounted hotel room! At the time of writing, TopCashback is offering 8% cashback on Priceline bookings, 10% on lastminute.com and 4.04% on Hotwire. Find out more here.
I am thinking about making a YouTube video which goes through the process of finding a secret rate hotel, and then how I pinpoint the relevant hotel before actually booking – do reach out to us and let us know if you think this would be useful.
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Have you had any successes with booking a secret rate hotel? Let us know in the comments section.