So I have a confession to make: I like Vegas a lot. Luckily for myself and other Southern California residents, it’s just a bit of a drive away and nothing that won’t make a weekend drive or hopper flight worth it. The problem: The Vegas that we once knew as a cheap destination with room rates subsidized by the casino resorts banking on your gambling money is fading away. In its place we have places on the strip (and off strip) that have begun raising their rates and charging for all kinds of things, including parking! Now what does the hapless Vegas-Goer do in order to find the same bargains? I turn to Hotwire.
For those of you that have never used Hotwire.com, it’s a travel booking site based around the concept of semi-blind bookings. For hotels, Hotwire will tell you the general vicinity of the hotel, the star level and some of the amenities that come included. Hotwire will also tell you the resort fees that are not included in your Hotwire price. When you’re using this to search for strip (area) located hotels, north, center, or south strip options are presented along with a handle new window for “non-hot-rate” options. However, as with the whole point of Hotwire’s “Hot Rates”, the hotel’s names are hidden and only revealed after booking. In other cities, hotels will use Hotwire as a way to lure you in and bring business from people they might not normally get or that would be going for a hotel or chain that comes to mind first (those are still found here as well). Basically, if you don’t have set place in mind that you’d like to stay and want to save a bunch of money with the lower “book, then know” method, this is where you need to be. Essentially, you’re gambling, but if you can tip the odds in your favor, you’re almost always going to come out ahead.
The goal here is to figure out which hotel is under the “secret” Hotwire price.
The first thing you’ll want to do is select the strip area in the map. Know here, that all hotels are within the vicinity of the strip. They might be a five-minute walk (I got the Westin once, which was incredible and only a short walk from the very center) for some, and there are a few “outliers” which I’ll show you how to avoid, but in general anything you’ll get will have a decent location and provide the possibility to do “the strip walk”.
From here, follow a few steps to ensure that you don’t get a dive.
- In your search options — Change the “% recommend” option to at least 70 percent and above. You don’t want to stay in a place no one else enjoyed, right?
- Change the star level to at least 3 Stars. Something weird I’ve noticed in Vegas is that the hotels on the strip don’t always stand up to their star level compared to those outside. For example, a 2-3 Star Hotel on the strip won’t compare to a 2-3 star in say Los Angeles, or Boston. Not sure why this is, as they offer amenities equal to the star rating, but the condition of the hotel still seems to slouch. The exception to this are the 4.5-5 stars that seem to hold up.
- Change the search order on the price to “Price (low to high). We’re looking for a deal.
- See that tab next to “Hot Rate Hotels” called “Hotels”. Open that in a new window (press the command and click on macs). Adjust the settings on the new tab so that it’s comparable: hotels on the strip, three star higher, ect.
- Now you’re ready to compare.
So now you’re onto the process of elimination.
On Hotwire you’ll be able to where each hotel is located: North, Center or South Strip. I’ve spotted a couple that stand out to me: A 5-star on the North Strip and a 4-star center. Time to investigate:
For the 5-star first, I can see in my Hotels tab when looking at the map that there are several 5 Star options on the North Strip. The Venetian, the Palazzo, the Trump and the Wynn. The funny thing with this one is that it’s actually really easy to see which one it is when comparing (I’ve had a lot of experience with this). The thing that stands out is that this 5-star lacks a casino — a dead giveaway that this $110 deal is the Trump Las Vegas. You can also compare the user ratings, well-liked by guests, and the resort fees. If for some reason you are looking to be reassured of your decision, you can check the rating for aspects of the hotel. For example, because the Trump Hotel is a short walk from the Las Vegas Blvd, the location rating is the biggest thing people on both tabs marked it down for.
But let’s say that I’m politically inclined to not stay at the Trump, or that I want to stay somewhere with a casino. Time to take a look at that four star:
Now there are a few four star options in the center strip (keep in mind that Treasure Island’s classification was recently changed to being on the North Strip). There’s the Cromwell, Mirage, Westin (though I’m not sure if Hotwire still classifies this as being “on” the strip. Now looking at the rate the hotel is going for will be your first hint, and be sure to look at both the regular Hotwire rate ($125) and the discounted ($91) . You’ll notice that the Mirage goes for much higher than the roughly $125 pre-discounted rate, and only both the LINQ and Cromwell are classified as boutique hotels. So it’s going to be one of these two pretty much guaranteed. But the Cromwell also goes for much more normally and comparing the resort fees, this looks like an almost sure thing to be the LINQ. If you’re still not sure check the resort fee’s charged. The Cromwell’s is $36 a day while the LINQ’s is $33.
Sure it’s always a bit of a gamble but I really have never had a bad booking using Hotwire for the Las Vegas strip, and that includes stays at the Trump, LINQ, Westin, and Palazzo. Comparing the Hotwire rates and already discounted rates has saved me hundreds of dollars. If I check the LINQ’s site for booking these exact days, it’s more than double!
If you get the LINQ, be sure to ride the High Roller on a Happy Hour pod. Groupon often has discounts.
Things to know before you book:
- Be sure to make sure that your dates are confirmed. Hotwire is non-refundable.
- On most hotels for Hotwire now, you can request a room preference. If this matters to you I suggest you do or the room you get will be the one that the hotel designates.
- Be sure to note if your room is non-smoking or not, if you have allergies or simply don’t want to smell smoke. Most all hotels have this as an option on Hotwire and you’d best pay attention.
- If you’ve compared between hotels and still can’t make up your mind on which one is the secret hotel, ask yourself, is one of the options a hotel that I do not want to stay in. If it’s recommended by users it’s usually a fairly safe bet, but It’s definitely worth asking yourself based on personal preferences.
- During the weekdays your definitely going to find cheaper rates than what I posted above so happy hunting.
- Don’t expect any elite benefits associated with your status or credit card, Hot Wire deals are the bare minimum with hotels and they might not honor your status, ect when booking. Likewise, don’t expect rewards/points.
I’m only writing this as a guide and not guaranteeing you anything! So don’t get mad if you end up getting Circus Circus (but if you use my recommended filters, you shouldn’t have to worry, that place I agree with most reviewers and find it far from the center and quite dated.) Book at your own risk!
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