A quick note to follow up on Chris and DJ’s post this morning regarding “sanity costs.” Yesterday I booked my first Hotwire stay in quite a while, ever since I got into the hotel loyalty game early last year. My motivation was a change to my itinerary from Seattle to Washington, DC, which moved my departure from a pleasant 8:05 AM to a torturous 5:22 AM. I didn’t know Seattle even had flights that early.
I certainly wasn’t going to make Megan drive me to the airport at that hour as we originally planned, and the cost of a taxi from my home to Sea-Tac is at least $60. By contrast, Hotwire was offering a 3.5-star hotel for only $71 plus tax, about $83 all-in. Both of us could sleep in a little longer.
I was hoping for the DoubleTree but ended up with the Hilton. The details don’t really matter since, for a stay like this, I wasn’t looking for any amazing amenities. Doing my research I knew that all the possibilities were good ones. I did check around to see if I could find a better deal elsewhere, and hopefully get some points or stay credit, but Hotwire was the cheapest option for what I really wanted: a place to rest where I could wake up and be at my gate within 30 to 45 minutes.
Some of my readers, I know, regularly book hotel stays at the airport or nearby the night before early morning flights. I have never done this before. Backpacking through Europe after college, I stayed up for a consecutive 44 hours rather than pay $200 to share a room with three other guys in Zurich before our 7 AM return home.
My frugality sometimes gets the better of me. I am realizing, now that I am growing “old” and a little more flush, that I can’t keep traveling like a college student. That $83 was well spent.
Most airport hotels tend to be cheaper properties that don’t see the same run-up in rates close to arrival like I see in downtown or tourist areas. None of my preferred chains are located near Sea-Tac, but it would have been a nice bump toward requalifying for elite status if they were.
Besides Hotwire, you can also search for cheap last-minute rates on Priceline and Hotel Tonight. The latter requires you to wait until after 12 PM to book. I also keep a nice stash of Expedia $50 best rate guarantee coupons for uses like this.
In retrospect, of course, I should have just flown on Thursday, attended the Freddie Awards that night, and put the same $80 toward a night at the Westin Tysons Corner. My breakfast rate there is about $100 including taxes and would earn me points and stay credit.
But sometimes I plan my trips too far in advance, and I booked my flight well before I received my invitation. By the time I was able to request a same-day change, it was too late to get to DC in time. That’s something else I need to work on. You can’t always plan for every scenario, but hopefully I’ll make it next year!