How to Use Hotwire for London UK Hotels: A Case Study
I just arrived in London this morning! Yes! I’m ridiculously excited. And the best part? I am not here for work! I am here for FUN. So I can just hang out all the time while I am here and wear big sunglasses all the time. Awesome.
For this trip to London, I experimented with something that I’ve always wanted to play around with: Hotwire. More specifically, I wanted to play with the “Secret Hot Rate Hotels” functionality. This is where you commit to an unnamed hotel during the booking process. You get a great rate in comparison to the hotel’s advertised rates, but you could honestly end up staying in Timbuktu and you need to be fine with that.
Because I know London pretty well, I figured I had a better chance of this “unnamed hotel” thing working for me. I knew I wanted to stay somewhere in between Marble Arch and Shoreditch, and I knew my budget and was being pretty strict about it. So I loaded up my Hotwire London search and started clicking around.
My Strategy for Booking London Hotels with Hotwire
- I focus on five-star hotels, just to be “safe.” There are too many definitions of what constitutes a four-star, whereas a 5-star is clearer.
- Then, I look at areas and select my favorite areas to stay in London: Mayfair/Piccadilly/Soho and then Hackney/Islington/Shoreditch/Whitechapel. I know these areas well and while I may not be familiar with every hotel, at least I’ll have a general sense of where things are. (But please see my tips below for which areas I think a newbie tourist to London should choose.)
- Be cautious with length of stay. I prefer to book short stays in case something doesn’t work out. I would never book a 10 night stay via Hotwire. I limit myself to a 3- and 4-night stays so I am not stuck somewhere terrible for days and days and days.
Boom. In this instance, Hotwire suggests a five-star London property in Hackney/Islington/Shoreditch/Whitechapel. Hotwire only wants $214.92 USD a night, including taxes and fees. I went ahead and jumped on it and immediately received an e-mail confirmation with the hotel’s name: The Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green. I then went to the hotel site and checked the price there. If I had booked through the hotel directly, I would have paid $321.22 a night, including taxes and fees. So I saved one-third by using Expedia’s Hotwire service! Score. (Note that this hotel in Bethnal Green was perfect for me because I know the neighborhood well, but for someone new to London, I recommend a more central hotel.)
Fast-forward to this morning when I checked into the Town Hall Bethnal Green in London around 12:30 pm. The front desk tells me that my room is not available yet. I am a little bummed because I am tired and I really would like a shower. I make a comment about how beautiful the hotel is and how much I’ve always wanted to stay here. I take a few photos while she sorts out my room. Before I know it, I’ve been upgraded to a massive suite! I just checked the hotel’s site and these rooms are going for $393.84, making what I paid a 45.4% discount! I am very happy!! Thanks to Hotwire!!
Best Hotwire London Locations
I spent some time reviewing the Hotwire London locations and these are the neighborhoods I’d suggest if you are a tourist and want to be nice and central. This is important because you want to be able to use public transportation so you can save more money.
- City of London/St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Knightsbridge Harrods
- London Bridge Waterloo
- Mayfair Buckingham Palace
- Oxford Street Piccadilly Circus
- Soho Leicester Square
- Tower Bridge Tower of London
- Westminster Victoria Big Ben (Note that if you see a separate option Westminister London Eye Vauxhall, I don’t recommend selecting that because Vauxhall is a bit too far out for me.)
Other Tips for Using Hotwire in London
- Don’t book too far in advance. Plans can change and these rates are truly non-refundable. Also, I find that rates change a lot too! If I book too far in advance via Hotwire, I find myself constantly checking the hotel website to make sure I am still getting a good deal. Better to just wait til the week or so before to book when the actual hotel price is less likely to fluctuate.
- Always do a general search on Expedia or Booking.com to see what hotels are going for! Pick an anchor property and then use Hotwire to beat that rate. The point in using Hotwire is to save money!! So if you can’t save money, why use it??? If there’s an equally good hotel on Booking.com and you know how much you’re going to pay for it, go that route.
- Make sure you know whether taxes and fees are included are included in your rates.
- If you are a points collector, remember that with a lot of Hotwire rates, you won’t get any points and will instead only get points on incidentals.
- Remember than when you click “4 star” it does not mean “4 star and up.” You need to also check “5 star” to get both “4 star and 5 star.”
- Pay attention to the % Recommended. If something has less than 80% Recommended, that’s a red flag for me. Stick with hotels that have % Recommended of 80 or above.
- “Indoor pool” is somewhat rare in London and thus it’s a GREAT way of trying to guess what your actual hotel is. Use the Amenities filter and play around with the options there. Spa Services is another great filter to apply.
- Some people complain that when they book through Hotwire, they get the worst room in the hotel. This has never happened to me but just remember that there’s no such thing as a free lunch!
- Check both the website and the app because you will find different information on both! This is essential!!! It’s my top tip for you! Specifically, the app will show you ratings from people who have booked with Hotwire and stayed in the property. If the hotel has a lot of ratings, you can sometimes read through the comments and figure out what hotel they are talking about. For example, in Chicago, I saw a lot of comments about a hotel’s all white rooms. I googled “hotel with all white rooms in Chicago” and found my hotel. So while I find it more convenient to make the reservation on my laptop, I will always check the app for the ratings and see if I can find clues about the hotel.
- Remember that these rates are non-refundable!! Like completely. Any complaints I read about Hotwire tend to be from people who get mad when they don’t get their money back.
- Read my other post with even more Hotwire tips!
Ready to Reserve Your London Hotel Room with Hotwire?
- Are you ready to start using Hotwire for your London hotel? Give it a whirl!
- Are you afraid to take the risk in London? Then just use Booking.com. It’s my favorite site for hotel bookings.
Hotwire London Hotel Lists
If you’re looking for data on which hotels are which on Hotwire in London, here are some good resources:
- Better Bidding International Hotel List. You’ll have to follow their instructions for launching Hotwire (they want the affiliate income) and then find London on the list. Then you basically have to eyeball the amenities listed for hotels in this list with the results you get on Hotwire.
- Hotels Revealed Hotwire London List: This list is a bit more straightforward and easier to navigate but it may not be as comprehensive as Better Bidding.
- Room Revealer Hotwire London UK List: I like this because it’s a nice simple search tool you can use. But also perhaps not as comprehensive as Better Bidding.