Pros / Hotwire has the lowest average hotel prices in our review.
Cons / While you can save money with its Hot Rate Hotels feature, you won’t know anything about the hotel until it’s already booked.
Verdict / If you're adventurous, you can save a lot of money with the best deals on Hotwire, but getting the very best deal involves some risk.
Like all the best hotel booking sites, Hotwire gives you the means to sort, filter and organize lists of thousands of hotels around the world. It has all of the same sorting options as the two best hotel booking services we reviewed, and on average, its rates are lower than any other site we evaluated. Even though Hotwire is missing a few features and doesn't save your searches, it's still one of the best sites for hotel bookings and earns our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award.
Hotwire's default search provided one of the lowest average prices in our test, but for the best deals on the site, you need to choose its Hot Rate Hotels option. It can save you quite a bit of money, but you don’t get much information about the hotel you book upfront.
In fact, when you search for Hot Rates, Hotwire displays the area the hotel is located, such as Redondo Beach or Times Square, in place of its name. In addition, the hotel’s profile doesn't show images or specific guest reviews, although you can see basic amenities, TripAdvisor ratings and booking policies. You only receive the missing information after you book. If you don’t want to take this gamble on a hotel, you can search for lodgings at the service’s standard rates, which are still lower, on average, than those other sites offer by around 30 percent.
In addition to letting you filter search results by star rating, amenities, proximity and other common specifications, Hotwire has options to narrow your choices by accommodation type and accessibility features for people with disabilities. You can even search specifically for hotels with rooms accessible to guests who are hearing or vision impaired.
The hotel profiles for standard-rate rooms show photos of the properties, but the images are small, so you may not catch all the details you want to see. As with the Hot Rate Hotels, you can see amenities and other information about the hotel like available rooms, occupancy limits, policies and standard rates. Be sure to read the fine print at the bottom of the page to catch essential information like cancellation policies.
Whether you book a hotel via Hot Rate Hotels or at standard rates, Hotwire provides a trip summary upon booking. This summary includes your hotel's rate per night, the number of nights you booked, taxes you'll be charged for the room, your travel dates and room type. To book a room, you are required to enter your name, contact information, and billing and card information at the bottom of the page. You can also opt for trip insurance in case the hotel you book doesn't offer free cancellation.
Trip insurance is a good safeguard if you opt for the Hot Rate Hotels booking. It costs less than $10, so you won't spend the money you saved booking with Hot Rate Hotels, and it guarantees a refund if you don't like the hotel you book. In addition to hotels, you can book flights, rental cars and vacation packages on Hotwire. Hotels are the only booking option for which the Hot Rate feature is available.
Like many other hotel booking sites, Hotwire has a loyalty program. You can earn HotDollars by booking hotels, and they can be used to offset the costs of future reservations. There are limitations on what HotDollars can be used for, and they expire a year after you earn them.
You can find answers to several commonly asked questions in the FAQs section on Hotwire's website. The FAQs are searchable and comprehensive. We found answers to all our questions this way. If you don't find what you're looking for, you can contact the service’s support team via email or phone. Hotwire doesn't offer live chat support, though.
Hotwire is one of the cheapest hotel booking service we tested, and it's especially economical if you don't mind booking blindly with its Hot Rate Hotels deals. You can still reserve hotel rooms the traditional way, but the deals aren't as sweet.