Months ago I read Drew’s piece over at Travel is Free about using just a little bit of Google savvy to take all the mystery out of Hotwire’s “Hot Rate” hotels. I like to think that such actionable advice would have cemented itself in my head, but alas, that was not the case. Fortunately, I’d just recently listened to the TIF podcast, during which Drew mentioned the Hotwire Hot Rate trick again.

Soon enough, I had a situation where I could put the trick to good use.

Deciphering Hotwire’s Hot Rate Hotels

Hotwire is not a booking site that I typically use when looking for hotels. The vast majority of my bookings are either awards (personal travel) or work travel. Unless the per diem for work cannot cover any of the going hotel rates, I wouldn’t be looking to a discount site to book. But…there is the occasional cash rate I need to book.

Enter Hotwire. Striking out on good value award options and seeing cash rates too rich for my blood, I turned to the Hotwire Hot Rate for an LAX airport stay. Decent hotel for $108 plus taxes? That I think I can swing. But will I get the Days Inn? Or an IHG brand? Definitely want the latter over the former.

Drew’s trick will let me hopefully figure out exactly which hotel it is.

Putting the Hotwire Trick to Use

I’m not going to spoil the full sequence of how you analyze the hotel options to figure out what it is. This is covered very well in the Travel is Free Hotwire post. All I want to mention is that it uses some Google searching that anyone should be capable of handling. I’m actually surprised Hotwire makes it that easy to see what hotel you’re going to get.

Using Drew’s tips, I came to the conclusion that I’d be booking the Candlewood Suites Hawthorne. Totally fine for the price, given what other hotels are going for. I even searched for any other coupons and was able to apply an additional $10 off to bring the price to $122 after taxes.

With all the information entered, I clicked “Book now”. Now for the suspense!

Success! It’s the Candlewood Suites. But I was already quite certain that this was the hotel being offered. Hotwire can hold the confetti. An airport hotel isn’t exactly worthy of a party.

I’d already checked the price available through IHG and found that yes, I was getting an excellent deal. A rate of $122.74 after taxes represents nearly 25% off the going rate. Maybe not the most incredible savings, but certainly solid. Using Ebates (now Rakuten) will provide me with ~$4.30 more in cash back.

Conclusion

You should be using the Hotwire trick every time you book through the site. There’s no reason not to. The Hot Rate savings is often substantial, and when you can take out all the surprise (and ensure you don’t get stuck with an undesirable option), it’s well worth the extra few minutes.