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Last Minute Hotel: Bed in hotel room

How to Book a Last-Minute Hotel With HotelTonight

Last updated: June 20, 2019
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If you’ve had a change of travel plans and are looking for last-minute hotel deals, HotelTonight is an app that lets you grab a hotel reservation at top hotels in many cities across the country. While the app does let you book up until a week in advance, HotelTonight started as a service to pair travelers with hotels looking to fill up unused rooms.

They still offer special deals for last-minute hotel stays, including the “daily drop,” a one-time limited chance daily for app users to book a room at a nice hotel for a steep discount. In this article, we’ll compare HotelTonight to other competitors and their last-minute deals (including Priceline and their “name your own price” tool), explain the “daily drop” special, and answer some frequently asked questions.

What Is HotelTonight

HotelTonight is an app that specializes in finding last-minute hotel deals. They partner with hotels in a host of cities around the world, helping hotels find people to stay in unfilled rooms, and helping you by offering those rooms at a lower price.

The app is a favorite of people who travel frequently for work and like trying new hotels, but is also a great service for people who drive into the city and decide to make a night of it. Whatever the reason for your stay, odds are you can save by booking late and being flexible.

HotelTonight works like many other third-party hotel booking apps in that you reserve a room through the app and pay through HotelTonight. At check in, you will need to provide a credit card for any incidentals, as well as a photo ID, but HotelTonight will handle the billing of the room.

The company HotelTonight was founded in December 2010 by a team of entrepreneurs, one of whom had experience launching several travel sites before that. Headquartered in San Francisco, the company says it has been downloaded by over 15 million users and is now available in cities across the world.

A Brief Guide to the App

The HotelTonight app is available for iOS on the App Store or for Android on Google Play. The app is an intuitive way to review hotels in your area (or a different city) and find a place to stay up to a week in advance.

Let’s do a quick tour of the app. At first you might notice up top that there is a small menu and map. That menu allows you to set your location and set the date, as well as add any filters you might want in your search.

The “Where” function is especially handy as it allows you to plan ahead for any travel that might happen. Say you’re flying to Los Angeles through Detroit and it looks like you’re going to miss your connecting flight and be forced to stay the night. You can enter “Detroit” in the “Where” tab and review hotels in that city, no matter where you are.

Last Minute Hotel: App homescreen pointing to location section

“When” lets you select a date up to seven days in advance, but you might lose out on special same-day deals by booking ahead. (More on that shortly.)

When looking at the app, you might notice that the hotels that are listed are given different tags at the top, such as Hip, Charming, Solid, Luxe, and Basic. These are meant to give you a vibe for the hotel, but also have a loose correlation to a star rating you might be more familiar with.

“Hip” hotels tend to be three- and four-star hotels that are trendy and newer, and “Charming” ones are three- and four-star hotels that have more of a classic vibe. “Luxe” usually correlates to a four- or five-star hotel experience, while “Solid” and “Basic” are your more standard, three- and two-star affordable options, respectively.

When looking at the app, they have the hotel rates listed prominently with each listing, so you know what the price is right away when booking.

You may also notice that there is a menu at the bottom. While a bit hard to see, the menu has a host of great options that make HotelTonight better to use.

The first one is a “Favorites” tab, denoted by the heart icon. This is a place to save your favorite destinations, no matter where they are located. If you find a great hotel on a trip to New York City, you can save it by tapping the heart icon on any hotel profile, and HotelTonight will save it for you, letting you know if they have deals any time you are visiting that city.

Last Minute Hotel: Screenshot of favorites section in app

The next tab over, with the door icon, lets you review any bookings you have made for the future, and check in on the status of bookings after you make them. The gift icon is how you earn rewards by referring friends to use the app (more on that in a bit) and the last one, the little person icon, is your account and its settings.

Your account will let you save information about yourself, save different payment methods, create a business profile for ease of booking and expensing, and more.

Special Deals for Same-Day Booking

If you need a last-minute hotel, booking with HotelTonight can save you extra, especially if you take advantage of exclusive deals they have for same-day booking.

One of those is their “daily drop deal,” a fun little countdown that refreshes daily when you check the app. Every time you open the app for the first time in a given day, they will give you a “daily drop deal” that you have to slide to unlock. It looks like this:

Last Minute Hotel: Screenshot of unlock deal slider

Once you’ve unlocked the deal, it will reveal the hotel that is offering the deal, then let you know you have 15 minutes to capture the booking at that price.

Last Minute Hotel: Screenshot of search results on app

The daily drop deal is only good for same-day bookings, and you can only use one per day, no matter where you’re traveling. If you want to take advantage of the deal, make sure that you’ve selected the city you’re going to be in that night. It will default to wherever you are at that moment, so if you’re going to be traveling, change the city to that location.

The daily drop deal is one special, but as you navigate around the app, you’ll see that they have plenty of “same day deals” available as well, for people booking that same day. The best way to save with HotelTonight is usually to book on that day, so if you don’t mind a little uncertainty, you can save big that way.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does HotelTonight Compare to Competitors?

HotelTonight is similar to Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Hotwire, and other third-party booking services in that you pay through them and reserve rooms for hotels. What’s different about HotelTonight is that it only lets you book a week out in advance. With some of those other sites, you can also book rental cars or flights, while car rentals and airfare aren’t a part of HotelTonight.

HotelTonight also doesn’t offer something like Priceline’s name your own price tool, which is a feature of the site Priceline.com. While “Name your price with Priceline” is a nice tag, it tends to be more of a way for the hotel to pair you with hotels in your price range than an actual way to tell hotels what you’ll be paying.

HotelTonight just offers late deals on hotels, and you have to browse through them to find a price you like (or set a filter). It depends on the user experience you like.

Where Is HotelTonight Located?

HotelTonight has offerings across the United States. Some of its more popular cities are San Francisco, New York, Miami, Austin, Seattle, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia, San Diego, Orlando, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Houston, but you’ll find it in most American cities.

The app is also available for international travelers, with locations across the United Kingdom (it has a ton of offerings in London) and European hotspots like Paris, Rome, and Budapest. It’s also available in Central America, South America, Asia, and more places every month.

How Do I Reach Customer Service?

HotelTonight prides itself on impressive service no matter where you’re traveling. To find the right number for your location, visit our listing of every number to call no matter where you are.

Is There a Referral Program?

Yes! Tap the gift box icon at the bottom of your app and you’ll get a specially generated code that you can share with friends. When they book, they’ll save $25, and you’ll get $25. Learn more about saving with HotelTonight promo codes.

Last Minute Hotel: Screenshot of give $25, get $25

Get Last-Minute Deals With HotelTonight

HotelTonight is a great app to find hotel discounts for those of you with a flexible schedule. Whether travel plans change or you’ve been meaning to take a staycation at the best hotel in your neighborhood, HotelTonight will hook you up with extra savings on a room for those of you who book on the same day.

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