Here’s the deal: I’m a cheap bastard. I want to go on holidays, but I don’t want to pay full price for things. I will sell my body for buffet coupons. If I had cleavage, I’d use it to distract the souvenir guy so I could steal a t-shirt. I’m not above sleeping with an unattractive girl just to score myself a free place to sleep for the night. My cheapness knows no bounds.
Since most of the above aren’t really realistic, I’ve had to take some drastic steps to save some cash on the New York leg of my upcoming holidays. I already told you how to save money by booking with the hotel directly, which might rival War and Peace as the greatest literary work of all time. That’s all fine and good, assuming you can get a decent price by going direct.
I was looking at hotels in Brooklyn, and a couple things stood out. Firstly, was how cheap they were. A decent room could be had for $150 per night, which was about half the price of a comparable room in Manhattan. As long as the hotel was near the subway, getting around wouldn’t be a problem. There were even a few rooms for a little over $100 per night, but their reviews sucked. I’m hardly a hotel snob, but I at least want something that doesn’t look like it’s straight out of Kabul.
I was resigned to getting a room in Brooklyn when I browsed Hotwire. In case you’re some sort of maroon that’s never heard of the site, let me explain the concept. Hotels use Hotwire to get rid of rooms that just aren’t moving, by offering significant discounts, often 50% or so. The only caveat is you don’t get to see what hotel your room is at until after you book it. All Hotwire offers is a vague description of the amenities you’d be getting. If you’re the hotel, you obviously don’t want it to be common knowledge that you’re giving your rooms away all cheap like. So they keep it on the down-low by being all hush-hush.
As I browsed Hotwire, I found a terrific deal. For $99 per night, I could get a room at a 2.5 star hotel in the West Central Park district. The Upper West Side is a mainly residential part of New York, and is home to all sorts of hoity toity type folks. This lessens my chances of getting mugged, which I think about approximately 93 times per day.
I only had one concern. I didn’t want to be too far away from a subway station. I checked out a map of the city, and subway stations were everywhere, especially in Manhattan. With that in mind, I decided I’d book it. But first, I wanted to see if I could figure out which hotel it was.
Here’s what Hotwire told me about the place:
The hotel has 2.5 stars and has a 3.5 rating on Tripadvisor. Plus, they provide a handy dandy map so you know what area the hotel is in. You’ll also notice the amenities listed near the top there. Or, in the case of this hotel, the lack of amenities. No wonder they have to give away their rooms.
Next, I went to Better Bidding, a website dedicated to unraveling the mysterious ways of the Hotwire. (and Priceline) I went to the New York thread, and then down to Central Park West. These are the hotels they listed for me.
Okay, we’re onto something here. The Marrakech is a 2.5 star hotel, in the same neighborhood, and the amenities are pretty close. I’m not sure how being a boutique hotel is an amenity, but here we are. Yet when I looked up the Marrakech (aside: how the hell do you even say that?) on Tripadvisor, it only had a 3/5 ranking, not the 3.5/5 we’re looking for.
I narrowed the search parameters on Tripadvisor to search for 2 star hotels with a 3 or 3.5 ranking in the Upper West Side. Once I narrowed it down to all the 2.5 star hotels, I got 2 possible choices. It was either Park 79 of The Belnord Hotel. I deemed either of those places as acceptable, so I moved onto step 2 – actually booking the damn thing. Internet genies, hook us up with another picture.
Seriously Hotwire? Trip cancellation insurance? Kiss the hairiest part of my ass.
Also, this has to be the most pics I’ve had ever that aren’t hot chicks wearing very little clothing.
It’s all so very exciting. Which hotel would I get? The Belnord sounds pretty classy, while Park 79 sounds very New Yorkish. I did wonder what happened to the first 78 parks though. I was just happy I wouldn’t be sleeping in a dumpster. Which hotel will get the opportunity to have me sleep nude?
ASTOR ON THE PARK, BITCHES!
But, that wasn’t one of the two finalists. That wasn’t even mentioned by Better Bidding, and it didn’t even make the Tripadvisor list. What gives?
It turns out that Tripadvisor thinks the Astor is a 3 star joint, and I was searching for 2.5 stars. My attempts to beat Hotwire were a bigger failure than a degenerate attending the University of Phoenix. You win Hotwire… this time. (insert evil laugh)
The reason for this is pretty simple. Hotwire is adding and deleting hotels all the time, depending on hotel demand. Better Bidding doesn’t really have an incentive (or the manpower) to keep the list up to date, so hotels slip through the cracks. It doesn’t help when Hotwire and Tripadvisor disagree on the number of stars the place deserves.
Let my small sample size be your answer. Hotwire cannot be beaten. You’ll just have to be surprised when you book your room. If I’ve been there before you, I’d suggest packing a black light.