Hotwire has been popular in the US for some time and came to the UK hotel market in 2011. You can book a hotel by choosing all the standard criteria: star rating, price, location, etc but they also offer hotels at a 'Secret Hot Rate'. These secret deals mean you can make a hotel booking at a price far below the published rate.
Enter your travel dates and you can choose the hotel's star rating and area but won't be shown the hotel's name or address until after booking. There is a map to check you've got the neighborhood you want and you can see a limited list of the hotel's facilities before booking too although no photos are available as that would rather give things away, wouldn't it?
To help your confidence with booking you can also see the TripAdvisor reviews rating and the number of reviews travelers have left on TA.
Availability is limited for the Secret Hot Rates as hotels do not want to lose their regular clientele but also do not want empty rooms. You won't always get the same deals as the room rates are dynamic and vary based on the date of booking, length of itinerary, and the hotel star rating.
Tried and Tested
Hotwire asked me to test a Secret Hot Rate so I checked the map and chose "Bloomsbury – Marble Arch – British Museum area" as it covered a large section of central London.
I chose a hotel with a 5 star rating and I could see TripAdvisor had 500+ reviews rating it 4.5 out of 5. Even though I couldn't see the reviews this let me know it was a well established and well thought of hotel.
Hotwire customers can also leave reviews and they had also rated the hotel as 4.5 out of 5 so I could still feel confident that those who had booked through Hotwire, and had possibly stayed on a Secret Hot Rate, had enjoyed their stay.
The room rate on offer was £171 per night which is exceptional for a 5 star hotel in London.
I could see a list of the hotel facilities before booking and saw it had a swimming pool which is what clinched the deal for me so I clicked on 'Book Now'.
When the booking confirmation came through I discovered I'd be staying at The Landmark London – somewhere I'd always wanted to visit. (Read my Landmark London Afternoon Tea Review.)
Compare The Rates
I booked a two-night stay at The Landmark London through Hotwire at:
£342 for two nights (£171 per night).
I checked the best rate available if I had booked on the hotel website and the same booking would have been:
£562 for two nights (£281 per night).
This means I paid 39% less with a saving of £220 – more than another night's stay!
As we all know there are many hotel booking sites that proclaim to offer the best rates so I continued comparing.
- Booking.com could offer the same reservation for £575.
- Lastminute.com could offer the same reservation at £515.
- Expedia.co.uk could offer the same reservation at £515.
- Laterooms.com could offer the same reservation at £515.
Meaning most were able to make a bit of a mockery of The Landmark's 'Best Price Guarantee'.
The Hotwire smartphone app makes booking even easier when already traveling but, while I researched the hotel I wanted on a PC, I managed to book online on my phone with no problems.
MoneySavingExpert.com has some tips to help you even further with Secret Hot Rates and can help you make an educated guess on which hotel might be on offer but, of course, your guess is just that and you won't know for sure without booking.
I knew a bit about these secret hotel deals but had never had the confidence to try one. But now I have I can wholeheartedly recommend them as you still have control over the key criteria of your stay and you can get some amazing bargains. While I got 39% off for a weekend stay it's not unheard of for Hotwire customers to pay 50% less so it's definitely worth checking for your next trip to London, Oxford, Edinburgh, Manchester, across Europe and worldwide.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.