I've just checked into my very first hotel that I reserved using Hotwire. I haven't been avoiding using Hotwire, but I find that with a little research I can usually find a comparable rate somewhere that still lets me get points for it. In this instance however, I was already on the road and didn't really have time to look around for a great rate. I wanted two nights in Valencia, California and Hotwire had the Hyatt on for almost 50% less than Hyatt.com, so I decided to give it a shot.
First of all, when I say Hotwire had the Hyatt on, that's obviously not quite true. Hotwire had a three and a half star hotel on for cheap, but a quick check of BetterBidding.com revealed that Hotwire only has one hotel in Valencia above three stars, and that was the Hyatt. There was a family plan rate that would come close to the Hotwire price, but when I called I was told that there was no availability for that price. Fine..I was a little concerned about some of the problems I'd heard about when using Hotwire, but for 50% off I'll book the discounted room and we'll give it a chance. So how is that going for us?
One of the biggest complaints I've heard about Hotwire (or Priceline) is that people who book through them seem to get assigned to the worst rooms in the building. This definitely isn't our problem as we're on the top floor of the hotel with a relatively nice view, especially compared to some that we've been given this summer (I'm looking at you Mirage). They didn't manage to get us connecting rooms but that's not really that unusual whether it's a Hotwire reservation or not. You don't get to make a request for bed type (king/queen) but both of our rooms are 2 queen rooms and that's usually what we request anyways. No complaints about the room assignment here.
Getting your status extras is another issue with Hotwire reservations. Lori and I are both Diamond at Hyatt. As Diamonds, we are supposed to get free breakfast each day and we're also entitled to free internet. When I checked in, the lady at the front desk didn't seem to think that we would get the breakfast on a Hotwire rate. I asked her to double check as I was pretty sure we did, and after a quick visit with her manager it turned out that I was right, and we were given the instructions for getting our breakfast in the morning. The internet I'm not sure about yet. We've been able to connect our computers, but it remains to be seen if the charges will come off at the end. Which brings us to the final problem that people talk about with Hotwire....
The billing. Obviously I can't tell you how that's going to work out for us yet. I have a bad feeling about it, but I'll reserve judgement until I check out Friday morning. It could be perfect and I'll have nothing but glowing things to say about my Hotwire experience. More than likely I'm going to have to argue about the bill with the front desk. It seems like a lot of trouble to go through, but it really is a significant amount of money (to me anyways) and if this is how hotels want to sell their cheaper rooms then I guess I need to learn the system. I kind of wish it wasn't, but Hotwire seems like a pretty good deal and a great way to save some money.