|Copley Square Hotel|
13 hours. That's the time difference that separates Stephane and me. When he called while admiring the view from the balcony of his hotel in Kunming, China on Friday evening, I was watching the sun peep over the horizon from the window of my hotel in Boston. Even though we're on opposite sides of the earth, we have one thing in common. We're both exhausted. So, when Stephane told me to take it easy, I looked around my comfortable hotel room, spied the neglected book on my nightstand and decided to take his advice. After all, I had spent quite a few hours searching for the best hotel that I could find at a reasonable rate and might as well enjoy it.
Whether it's a hotel room or a rental car, I'm a bargain hunter who frequently uses Hotwire to save up to 50% off the regular rate. Here's my modus operandi:
- Start shopping for a room as soon as possible to get an idea of the price.
- As Hotwire categorizes hotels by star ratings and location but doesn't disclose the name of the hotel until after you pay, it helps if you're familiar with the area. If you're not, use google maps to get an idea of which hotels are in a specific part of town. With a bit of research, you can usually figure out the hotels that are listed on Hotwire.
- If you're staying for more than a couple of nights, check if the price drops on different days and make two different bookings. I did this for Le Meridian because prices are frequently lower on the weekend than they are during the week. When I checked-in, I told the hotel that I had two bookings and they blocked the room for the entire time so that I wouldn't have to change rooms.
- Clear your web browser (be sure to delete your "cookies") from time to time because they'll usually try to entice you to book a hotel during your first visit to the website by offering lower prices. This is also true when shopping for airline tickets.
- Once you have a fairly good idea of which hotel you're looking at on Hotwire, compare the prices and read the reviews at Booking.com and TripAdvisor.
- As Hotwire rooms are the least expensive rooms in the hotel, explain that you understand the restrictions associated with the booking when you check-in and ask if they'll put you in the best possible room in that category. Unless they're fully booked, they'll usually honor your request. It helps if you're polite with the staff at the front desk!
What are your secrets for getting a good price on a hotel room in the USA or in Paris?
|My boutique room at the Copley Square Hotel|
Copley Square Hotel: The Hotwire rate per night was $100 (plus tax $20.94) on Sunday and $128 (plus tax $24.95) on Tuesday for a boutique room with a queen size bed. The best available rate for the same room is currently $299 (plus tax $43.21) if you book the room through the hotel's website.
What I like: The location! It's perfectly situated near Newbury Street and is in easy walking distance of the major tourist attractions. The front desk staff is very helpful and friendly, the recently renovated rooms are tastefully decorated and include a dark-colored wash cloth labeled "make-up" so that the fluffy white ones aren't discolored. That's a clever touch. The added bonus was the free wine tasting in the evening because it was a great opportunity to get to know my son's girlfriend when she kindly offered to join me while Philippe was in class. Tea and coffee are available in the lounge in the morning and seasonal beverages, like hot chocolate, are offered in the afternoon. The special touches normally associated with boutique hotels. Free wireless.
What I don't like: That there isn't a way to make tea or coffee in your room. While going down to the lobby for a hot drink may be fine for travelers who are on the right time schedule, it isn't convenient for a jet-lagged traveler coming from Paris. The smaller sized rooms (the queen rooms are 205 sq. ft) may not suit those who prefer more space. For me, it was comfortably cozy.
Le Meridian Hotel in Cambridge: The Hotwire rate per night was $121 (plus tax $22.03) from Wednesday-Friday and $105 (plus tax $19.05) from Friday-Monday. Since the staff at the front desk kindly upgraded my room to a superior room on the top floor, the best available rate for the same room is currently $360.52 (including taxes).
What I like: The front desk staff for upgrading my room! The perfect location for last minute lunch dates with my daughter and the two queen beds in case Sara wants to escape her graduate student apartment and join me for a sleepover. All of the trendy restaurants in the area with a cool vibe. Easy access to the bus and the red line on the T. The bathrobe. 24 hour "Soundscape" created by French musician Henri Scars Struck that plays unobtrusively in the elevator. Spaciousness of the 240 sq. ft. room. Convenience of having a grocery store located in the same complex. Free wireless. Housekeeper who generously increased my daily allotment of tea, coffee and cream. Fitness center, even though I haven't had the energy to use it.
What I don't like: The noise occasionally coming from the hallway, but it's a minor distraction. This hotel wouldn't be a good choice for those who prefer to be in the middle of Boston.
I haven't dared touch any of the snacks or the drinks in the mini-bar because they're placed on sensors that immediately record that an item has been purchased as soon as you pick it up.