Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How I Scored a Four-Star Hotel for $115 in the Heart of Washington DC!

I have to admit I'm really excited to share my hotel booking tips with you! 
It's nothing secretive or fancy - but it could help you score a four-star hotel for much less than you expect!
I love staying at a beautiful hotel, but hate paying too much for it because I rarely spend much time in the room.

We're heading to DC by train this weekend to see the cherry blossoms around the tidal basins!
If possible, my first choice on location would be by the Capitol and Union Station
so we wouldn't have to take a cab or Metro to get to the hotel. 
We'd also be able to walk almost everywhere we'll want to go!

I started on Hotwire - which shows rates for hotels 
without disclosing the hotel's name. 
It will tell you how many stars, which neighborhood, what amenities it has and the price.
The reason you don't find out which hotel until after you enter your credit card 
(and it's not refundable) is because you're paying a heavily discounted rate
and the hotels don't want to be publicly listing those deals!

Here's what my initial search looked like for the weekend..

I clicked on Area Map on the different options to see which one was closest to where I wanted to be.

The large green oblong shape is what Hotwire considered the Capitol Hill - National Mall area.
I pulled up a Google map side by side to see more details.
The hotel could be anywhere within those boundaries so I wanted to make sure any location within there would be close to a Metro station (DC's version of the subway). 

Perfect! It looked like pretty much any location within Hotwire's boundaries
for the Capitol Hill - National Mall area would be walkable!

Then, I refined my Hotwire search so I could see only the deals for the areas I was interested in.
On the left, you can see how this sidebar on Hotwire looks before you change it.
On the right, those are the parameters I wanted to search for.
I included a few extra areas - just in case I couldn't find what I was looking for in the Capitol Hill area.

This was the only option that met my criteria perfectly for the weekend getaway!
Amazing, right!?

That's a pretty good discount - but I wanted to see if I could get an
even better deal on a four-star in the same area on Priceline!

Before jumping to Priceline.com - I went to Hotels.com to try to figure out which hotel this might be!
Now, the detective work begins!

Here's my search of four-star hotels in the Capitol Hill - National Mall area..

Because Hotwire said the room was $194 before being discounted to $132,
I can look at the hotels listed around $194 in the same neighborhood and with the same number of stars 
to get an idea of which one it might be!

I click around on a couple of them and make sure the location/hotel/amenities are generally what I'm looking for!

Next, I pull up Hotels.com's map - which lets you see where the various hotels within your search are located!

I was trying to make sure that we wouldn't be staying south of the Capitol or National Mall.
From the red markers on this map - I can see that there is only one four-star hotel south of the Mall
so I figure my odds are pretty good that it will be north (closer to Union Station).

Finally, head to Priceline!!
It sometimes makes me nervous and really excited at the same time
because you never know if it's going to accept your bid!
It makes the trip more exciting before you even get there!

First, I look at Priceline's geographic areas within Washington, DC.
There isn't one labeled Capitol Hill - National Mall so I check out all of the options.
(Even if it was the same name, I would still take a close look at the boundaries because each of the
websites break up the areas slightly differently geographically.)

From a closer look at the map, I realize Convention Center - Capitol Hill area is where we're looking to stay!

I mark only my top choice for area and number of stars before entering my first bid.
(There's a reason you start with only your first choice in each first.)

Since I know I can get a four-star in the same area on Hotwire for $132,
I'm going to bid much less than $132 and work my way up.

My plan is to go back to Hotwire if Priceline can't get me something lower!
Talk about a real win-win situation!

I put in my first bid for $90!

Priceline takes you to a second page where you review the details - number of stars, neighborhood, dates..
and enter your credit card information! 
It's important to know that these rooms are not refundable 
and once Priceline accepts your bid - the rooms are charged on your credit card immediately! 

Make sure you review the details carefully - because who knows! 
You could be one click away from winning an amazing room at an incredibly low price!

Unfortunately, my first bid was rejected.
Not much of a surprise though - since $90 would have been ridiculously cheap for a four-star in that neighborhood!

In my opinion, you want to get rejected on the first bid because then if you slowly increase your bid,
 you'll know you're getting the best deal and not possibly overpaying!

To place your second bid - you have to change at least one check-mark box - either the number of stars or neighborhood or dates - as well as the price (unless you're adding in less desirable neighborhoods where the original bid price might work).

This is why I only put one check for neighborhood and stars to start.
You want to give yourself more options as you bid later.

Sometimes, I don't want to change the number of stars or neighborhood
so I'll try again later that day
or sign in from a different computer
or if I'm booking a couple of rooms with other people - have them try on their computer.

(It won't let you just change your bid - it somehow remembers you:)

I try again for $100. Priceline didn't accept this one either.

Then, I got a screen I haven't seen before - it says I can try again by increasing $29 for a one-time opportunity.
Hmm.. tempting - but since Hotwire is $132 - I still want to see if I can do a little better.
It's more like a game to me at this point and I want to win :)

A little later - I try again.
This time increasing my bid to $115 for a four-star in the Capitol Hill area..
a few seconds after entering my credit card into - this screen appears!!

Boo-yah!! I won!

Yay! So lucky this time! 
It's exactly where I wanted to be! 
I go back to Hotels.com to see the real price and check out the location/amenities/guest reviews!
Just two blocks from Union Station so we won't even have to take a cab from the train!
And it's only about four blocks from the Capitol!
The Kimpton Hotels are fabulous too! Looks to be an amazing weekend!

 Are you convinced now?! 
Priceline, Hotwire and Hotels.com - all together can help you find the best deal - as long as you're slightly flexible!
Hope you find a great deal soon too!
This obviously has nothing to do with the Hunger Games,
but it's quite befitting - may the odds be ever in your favor!!


  1. That's awesome!!! You sound like me with couponing :) I bet it'll be such a pretty weekend with the cherry blossoms!

  2. Hotel bookings in Mussoorie is definitely a tough nut to crack since the queen of hills is flooded with tourists and vacationers throughout the year. Therefore, all the pre-planners need to book their share before hand in order to have a hassle-free holiday at this nature’s gift. You can book your hotels online as well for that matter.


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