The handy and ever-growing booking app Hotel Tonight has officially made its name only somewhat true. From now on, you can book a discounted last-minute hotel room for tonight or you can book a room for anytime in the next seven days.
What has always made Hotel Tonight a little different is it hasn't simply yanked prices from a common database the way so many hotel booking apps do. It negotiates directly with each hotel. I guess unsold inventory makes hotel managers nervous no matter whether it's eight hours away from expiring or a week away, so the goods are expanding to a week.
I haven't booked using the new 7-day advance feature yet, but I have used the app in the past, and I have found the prices conceal no trickery. You pay what's shown and the hotel is clear. Priceline and Hotwire may dip to lower price levels but won't tell you which hotel you've bought until you have pulled the trigger. But with this app, you can see the place you're getting before you buy.
Simply comparing what's on offer tonight versus what's available over the coming days, it's evident that there may or may not be savings available whether you want to book for tonight or five days from now. In Copenhagen tonight, you can get the Best Western Mercur Hotel for $175 (but its own site has the price as the equivalent of $144). The rest of the week has the price about the same—but the hotel's own site always beats the Hotel Tonight app.
But in a high-traffic city such as Orlando, deals are available. The newly opened B Resort at Walt Disney World costs $89 if you book it from the hotel directly for this evening but $75 on Hotel Tonight. Likewise, the Dolphin on Disney property is being sold for Saturday on Hotel Tonight, but the hotel itself wouldn't rent me a room directly for that night even if I used its own website.
As you can see, the savings results are a mixed bag (as can be the kind of room you get, as I recently discovered), but Hotel Tonight can win in some unpredictable cases. If you're booking a hotel for a last-minute trip falling anytime in the next seven days, make Hotel Tonight—which perhaps should be renamed Hotel for Anytime From Now Until a Week from Tonight—something you add to your toolbox.