Is booking site HotelEngine an “insider secret”?

In a few weeks, a group of my friends are getting together in Seattle for the weekend, and I want to go! The trip is a little spontaneous, but I just might be able to make it work.

They’ve all booked rooms at a Kimpton property, which I’m excited about (because I love Kimpton), but also a little constrained by (because I can’t just get a free award stay by using some hotel points). So, I decided to put my travel hacking skills to the test to find a discounted room. If there was a deal out there, I was determined to find it.

Spoiler alert: I was successful. 🙂

However, I ended up spending a lot more time and effort than I needed to. The silver lining was that during my search, I discovered HotelEngine, which turns out to be a valuable tool for saving money on hotel rooms – even when it seems like there isn’t a deal to be had. The weird thing is that for some reason, this site seems to be a secret. I’m excited to share it with you, because I think you’ll like it, too – but first let me explain why I think it’s a hidden gem.

1. HotelEngine gives you cash back. This reduces your cost on every hotel.

What I’ve found is that while all of the big travel sites do offer savings, they all offer similar savings.

It gets a little frustrating to spend a chunk of time clicking around for the “best deal” on five different sites, only to discover that they all have the same deal. To see what I’m talking about, check out this column of $249’s I found on Kayak:

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 9.51.00 PM

 

With HotelEngine, while the deal offered may be the same price, you get a 5-10% rebate of the cost of each stay. For example, this same Hotel Monaco booking would earn you a $12.45 rebate. Granted, that’s not huge, but it’s certainly better than $0.

HotelEngine

 

2. The ONLY prices displayed on HotelEngine are the same as the BEST prices offered on Kayak.

The fact that I don’t have to click through on multiple sites to find the best deal makes me very happy. As I mentioned before, I don’t really want to spend a lot of time wandering around on the internet – I would really prefer to go to one site and be done with it. I love that HotelEngine simply features the best price for each hotel. Easy and efficient!

 

3. They make it easy to see what you’re getting.

You can search by map view, distance, price, star rating, reviews…even by walk score! When you select a hotel, a description, reviews, and other details are displayed.

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 10.59.12 PM

They even provide the weather forecast for your trip. What a great idea.

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4. It’s clutter-free.

LOVE THIS. No ads, just your search results. The experience of searching for a hotel becomes a lot more relaxing and less stressful when you aren’t being bombarded with tons of flashy, splashy ads.

 

5. Right now, you can stack even more savings onto a stay.

Currently, you can apply a $25 referral code to your first booking. (if you do not use a referral link, the credit is only $5). Here is my link if you’d like to use it – thanks!

When you combine this immediate savings with the 5-10% rebate, plus the 2.2% rebate you get for using your Barclaycard Arrival (you are using a points-or-cash-earning credit card, right?), then you get a nice little discount now, and another chunk of change for later.

This is especially nice when there just aren’t any other deals to be had. I really love feeling like at least I got a little something!

 

6. Did I mention that it’s easy?

That’s the best part. HotelEngine is a snap.

And for me, it was all that I wanted in the first place: I saved money, I knew I was getting the best deal possible, and I had an enjoyable shopping experience. Done and done!

 

The downside?

The only potential downside I see to using HotelEngine is that you will probably NOT get elite stay credit and/or recognition when you book a room through the site. However, if you are simply looking for the least expensive room option when all the other sites are showing the same price, I think it’s a great way to go.

Have you used HotelEngine yet? What did you think?

 

Comments

  1. How does this get counted for rewards from the properties? Do you get elite credit, and/or recognition when you book through here?

    • Points Pixie says:

      Ryan – Because you are booking through a third party, you need to contact the hotel directly (or ask at check in). In my experience, the smaller boutique chains such as Kimpton will normally give elite credit and recognition, while the larger chains will not.

  2. HeavenlyJane says:

    I wish you’d address any potential downside, such as the possibility of accidently booking a non-refundable room, or the chance that you will get treated like a second-class citizen by hotel for booking with a 3rd party.

    • Points Pixie says:

      HeavenlyJane – Sure, I can include that. The only downside I can think of is that you wouldn’t get elite stay credit. I’ll revise my post and put that in.

  3. For a week, I’ve been madly searching for a hotel deal in Vegas. The experience I just had on Hotel Engine was way better than any other site. It’s efficient, and most of all, it’s clear. I love that the results came back with specific room types – like strip view. So often, rooms are listed on a more general level, and I never know what I’m going to get. I say yay for this site.

  4. Never heard of the site but I’d have preferred a more balanced review, especially since it seems the link is a referral link

    • Points Pixie says:

      anon – Unless I’m missing something, I’m not really seeing any big downsides to using HotelEngine! If you can think of something I left out, please let me know!

      • There are a couple other things that are downsides:

        1. You not only receive zero elite credit, you are also going to get zero points in their loyalty program (and zero miles to your favorite airline, if that is your preference). No hotel promotions either
        2. This doesn’t include non-public rates such as AAA that are available on the hotel site
        3. This is only one site that shows you their rates (pulled from somewhere like Expedia), not rates from a lot of sites including wholesalers like Otel.

        Quick example since I’m going to NYC next month (Oct 4-5) and am thinking about earning Into The Nights.

        First I see that I get 8% cash back for Holiday Inn at eBates. I go to IHG.com and put in the AAA rate and look at the cheapest Holiday Inn in Manhattan (for the Into the Nights promo I need a Holiday Inn on a Saturday night to hit multiple ‘goals’). I see the HI Wall Street for $204. Hotel Engine has the property for $239 with 5% back, to redeem on my next booking.

        For IHG, I will earn 4080 points (20 points per dollar with the IHG credit card), plus 1,000 for another IHG promo (1,000 points per stay for the next 60 days), and I’m now 1/3 of the way towards my Into The Nights promo where I’ll get 18,100 points plus two free nights. Let’s do the math:

        Hotel Engine total with taxes and fees: $252.75 after the $25 referral coupon. I get $11.95 towards my next booking and ~$5.55 back via Barclaycard Arrival. Net total including future discounts: $235.25

        IHG with taxes and fees: $237.59. I receive 8% off the base price via eBates ($16.32) as cash and will receive 5,080 points. Valuing points at 6/10 of a cent each, I get a $30.48 value, so after that and eBates, my net total is $190.79. Add on the Into The Nights promo and it is easy to see that this option is worth so much more than a site that amounts to booking on Hotels.com through a cash back portal.

  5. Ben, that’s a great example with IHG, but surely you too have had times where you can’t find any deals, need to stay at a non-chain hotel (weddings, groups of friends, destinations without chains) where a cash back rebate is better than nothing. I appreciate the info and the link and hope to use it for a group trip to Maui where the property we’re booking has no deals. Thanks Kendra!

    • Points Pixie says:

      Marla – That was exactly my point and my intention! I really wanted to stay at this specific hotel with my friends. While there are other, less-expensive hotel options in the area, the point of the weekend is to be together as a group. I used HotelEngine to get the best deal possible for this situation.

    • I agree it can be, hence why I mentioned at the bottom of my post that HotelEngine is essentially “a site that amounts to booking on Hotels.com through a cash back portal.”

      Using the blogger’s example and wanting to keep it simple, I went the Monaco Seattle’s website and looked up a room in 3 weeks 10/17-10/19 as well as on Kayak and HotelEngine. Kayak is the ‘wall of $259’ as mentioned above, HotelEngine is $259 with 5% towards your next reservation plus the $25 credit. The hotel website with AAA is $211 for the room only, or you can choose one of two decent packages – ‘free’ parking or a $25/day food/bev credit – for an additional $12.50/night.

      All prices without taxes.

  6. I have to second Marla. I think the intent of the post here is to provide the average person, who doesn’t have or care about elite credit and loyalty and always being treated like royalty, an option for getting *some kind of deal* when the specific hotel they want to book doesn’t currently have any special promotions available. Having this info is valuable in that case and that is Pixies recommendation.

    As usual – thanks for posting!

    • Points Pixie says:

      Peter – Thanks. You got the point! There are a lot of people out there who don’t have elite status and don’t care about maximizing promos – they just want the best deal on a specific hotel. HotelEngine is perfect for that.

  7. It looks like the site is only for U.S. hotels as far as I can tell. Am I wrong?

  8. How does the rebate work? Do they send you cash, take it off the cost immediately, or give it to you as credit for your next booking?

  9. I know this post is old but your referral link doesn’t work any longer. I’m also wondering if hotelengine.com has made a change as they seem to be a service for businesses?

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