Whether you’re already looking to escape the cold start of 2016 or planning ahead for the summer, Hotels.com’s mobile apps might be all you need to find a great place to stay. Here’s our review.
It was with an air of trepidation that I turned to my smartphone to book a hotel for my upcoming holiday, but with my media library and my banking already handled primarily through the same device, perhaps this was one more thing I wouldn’t have to rely on a full-blown computer to pull off.
Whilst the market for travel apps has exploded in the last few years, Hotels.com’s offering is unquestionably one of the more established names on the scene. Since it originally launched back in 2008, the company’s expanded the platform beyond iOS to include Android, Windows Phone and Amazon’s Fire family too.
After deciding on a last minute weekend away to New York and an Airbnb booking that fell through just two days before I was scheduled to fly, I needed a quick, simple way of finding some nice accommodation, fast. I took a gamble on Hotels.com and it unquestionably paid off.
In its current incarnation, the app greets you with three primary means of finding a hotel quickly – based on your current location, based on a destination of your choosing or based on the best deals out there (which can be sorted again by your location or by city). Once you’ve picked somewhere you want to stay the app prioritises hotels by the savings to be had. The ‘deal of the day’ always offers an impressive discount on rooms and such deals typically only last for 24 hours.
The ‘secret price’ is exclusive to app users. It’s an additional discount opportunity on an alternative location to the deal of the day, so there’s a little choice amongst the biggest price cuts if one place isn’t exactly what you’re looking for.
The list of hotels is presented in a clean, clear fashion with the name, hotel star rating and nightly price along the left side of the list view and professionally taken snaps of the hotel’s lobby, rooms or view on the right to add context to wherever you might choose to book. You can also switch to the map view, which places pins with all the included hotels across your city of choice, making it even easier to establish where you’ll be relative to the hotspots of your destination.
You can save hotels to a dedicated tab within the app’s slide-out menu by tapping the pin icon on the pictures too, meaning you can refer back to old favourites later, keep tabs on rates or rebook places you had a particularly good experience at.
Tapping on any of the listings then gives you an overview of everything you’ll need to know, with shortcuts to call the hotel directly, the address, additional professional and user-taken photos for added transparency, as well as a breakdown of individual room types and pricing.
You can also drill down on any one specific aspect of the hotel you’re researching, including facilities, nearby activities and essential hotel information (check in/out time, whether pets are allowed etc.). Chances are if you have a question about a listing, the answer will be within these pages.
Another power feature is the review system, which gives you immediate access to specific reviews on your potential hotel, taken from the 14 million Hotels.com users and TripAdvisor, each of which are grouped by source. Naturally this is where you’ll find the most honest experiences around a location and you’re also presented with an average review score out of five stars, as well as a breakdown of various user ratings.
If you’ve settled on somewhere, once you hit the ‘book now’ button, you’ll have the option to pay directly from the app or at the hotel itself with the pros of choosing either option laid out plainly. The booking process is fast and fluid, it takes about two minutes assuming you’ve previously set up an account and payment information is attached, and once your payment has been processed the app gives you a countdown until your booking. That’s all there is to it.
Hotels.com, like many other travel sites allows for discount codes too and with the thousands of hotels on the system, you’ve got a huge variety of places to choose from that guarantee value for money.
Being one of the more established names in the business clearly has its benefits, as the user experience of the app feels incredibly well put together, optimised and refined for the user. The development team have packed a huge amount of information into a format that never feels overwhelming and the exclusive deals really are the cherry on top.
If you want a great hotel experience and you need to book it quickly, there’s little doubt in my mind where you need to look before your next holiday.