Procrastinators are about to get the last laugh. Turns out you can save 10 to 40 percent if you book a hotel at the last minute through an app.
According to an Expedia report, more than 65 percent of people who book a hotel room within 24 hours of their stay do so from a mobile device. Big-name booking-engine apps have sections devoted to last-minute travel, while other apps specialize in the service. Here are some of our favorites:
Priceline owns this big-name travel website and companion app, so travelers searching either one get the best of both Priceline and Booking.com. With its extensive directory, this app excelled in the number of options provided (210 hotels during my recent San Francisco–based test) and offered plenty of filtering options at the outset, such as most popular, nearest, best price, and star rating, to refine a search.
Discounted rates on the app are generally 10 percent lower than those on a hotel’s website. Booking.com also has a standard app (simply called Booking.com), through which it’s also possible to book same-day reservations. However, the Tonight app is dedicated to this type of search. So even if you have the former, it’s worth doubling down on the second for ease of use.
This app searches more than a quarter-million hotels worldwide to find you the best deals. In-app booking is available via your account or as a guest user. Reservations are then available off-line. Although the app advertised savings between 10 and 40 percent off standard rates, when I cross-checked these prices against the each hotel’s website, the savings were between 5 and 15 percent. Still good, just not as good as advertised.
Perhaps the leading app in this category, Hotel Tonight curates deals from area hotels and lists only those offering the best values. It delivers what it promises: Listed rates are indeed heavily discounted, at 10 to 40 percent off the rates available via each hotel’s website. Each property listing provides a user rating as well as a curated “Why We Like It” list. The app also features a sleek, user-friendly interface.
On this app, day-of deals appear in the “Tonight” section, but only after noon in the city of choice. The app’s strengths lie in its panoramic photos and insights from Jetsetter’s team of expert correspondents. It’s limited in two respects. It covers just a handful of U.S. cities (New York, Miami, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles). Also, when I tested the app in San Francisco, it returned only one result and didn’t offer any savings over the price listed on that hotel’s website.
Last Minute Travel
This app delivers deals for more than 100,000 hotels in 4,500 cities. It culls TripAdvisor info, so each listing includes user-generated star ratings, reviews, property descriptions, and photos. The biggest benefit of this app is that many of the rooms it lists aren’t available to book via the hotel’s website, so travelers will have a greater selection—and save time—by launching this app instead of conducting individual searches.