With the help of an iPhone app, I took my first-ever staycation last week.
My sister came to visit me in New York City and we decided to give the city’s boutique hotels a shot rather than stay at my crowded apartment.
There’s only one problem with boutique hotels in New York: They’re expensive.
So we decided to look for a deal through Hotel Tonight, a free app for iPhone and Android.
Hotel Tonight isn’t new. The app has been around since 2010, and it has a pretty basic premise: to find you a hotel immediately (or anytime in the next seven days) by offering you rooms the hotel itself couldn’t sell.
The app lets you narrow down your dates and location, then shows you available rooms in a list or map view. The app also shows you ratings and lets you browse through a gallery of photos. But if you like to choose your room type, you’re out of luck: The hotel picks your room for you, and you’ll only find out what room you’re getting upon arrival.
My sister found us two super-chic luxury hotels to try for the weekend, both at a discount: The Viceroy Central Park and the NoMad Hotel.
Both hotels were beautiful, provided excellent customer service (one concierge even sent us a drink at dinner), and had all the amenities of a boutique hotel — at a discount.
A room at the NoMad.
Of course, hotel prices fluctuate, and the rates depend on the time of year and demand. We got our room at the NoMad for $284, which was cheaper than anywhere else online at the time — for comparison, rooms are going for $350 for next Saturday night. Our room at the Viceroy was $225, and was again cheaper than any other price we could find, but you can book a room there next Friday for $223 right now.
There was only one major downside of booking through Hotel Tonight: The prices listed when scrolling through the app don’t include taxes and fees, which can be steep. The fees totaled $121 for the whole weekend, which was an expense we weren’t expecting. When booking through Hotel Tonight, you’re charged both standard hotel taxes, plus whatever fees Hotel Tonight owes to the hotels themselves.
So, would I use Hotel Tonight for future trips?
The extra fees were a bad surprise, and they put us well over budget for the trip.
But booking through the app didn’t affect the level of service we received, and both our rooms were as gorgeous as they would’ve been if we’d paid full price. We probably wouldn’t have discovered either hotel without browsing the app, and all in all, we had a fantastic time. Plus, by booking frequently through Hotel Tonight, you start to rack up something called HT Perks, which give you bigger discounts the more you book.
Even if you end up getting a better deal elsewhere, Hotel Tonight could end up being a helpful tool in finding anything from a last-minute work trip to a fabulous getaway.