Identify That Mystery Hotel Before You Book It

Photo (cc) by WingateStateArena

You love the money you can save with the incredible deals on travel websites like Priceline and Hotwire, but booking blindly is risky.

It turns out, there’s a loophole that may let you see that secret hotel before you hand over your credit card information.

The tip was shared in an article by John Matarese that appeared on many TV station websites around the country recently. It originally came from DailyFinance’s Jason Cochran several years ago.

According to Cochran, all you need to do is channel your inner Sherlock Holmes and check out some aerial photographs from Google. That’s right: Some simple bird’s eye aerial map reading is the key to identifying that mystery hotel, at least on Last Minute Travel, a popular travel bidding site.

Matarese said using Cochran’s trick is easy:

Say you want a four-star hotel in the Downtown Disney section of Orlando.

Last Minute Travel will give you a map of the area where that hotel is located.

But switch to the Google Earth or bird’s eye view and in many cases you can find the actual hotel. In this case, the only hotel in the bird’s eye photo is the Hyatt at Lake Buena Vista.

So, in this hypothetical case, you know you’re booking a $160 hotel for a mere $84 a night (plus tax). Nice.

“Depending on the area, you may not be able to read the name of the hotel from the distance, but you will be able to see the area, down to the street,” Cochran said.

This is where your sleuthing skills could come into play. Cochran said:

If you can’t identify the hotel on sight, you can at least get a neighborhood for it, and using the “view facilities and price details” link, match up the available amenities with hotels that you know are in the same area. It takes a wee bit more homework, but the location clue from the map will almost always narrow down the choices to only one or two probable targets.

If you want great deals and you want to uncloak the mystery hotel before you plug in your credit card information, there are some other tools available. Travel + Leisure’s Tom Samiljan wrote:

You can save up to 60 percent with mystery-booking pioneer Hotwire and Travelocity’s Top Secret Deals. The trade-off: They don’t tell you where you’re staying until you’ve paid. For that, turn to Bidgoggles and HotelDealsRevealed, which can help you figure out what property might be behind the curtain. Better yet, Guestmob offers similar discounts if you let it choose one of four predetermined hotels for you (all in the same part of town).

I like to know which hotel I’m going to be staying at before I pay for it, so I typically use Expedia. However, now that I’m armed with these tips, I might finally try a hotel bidding site like Last Minute Travel.

How do you book your hotel stays? Please share any money-saving hotel booking strategies below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Ways Coupons Waste Your Money and Time
7 Ways Coupons Waste Your Money and Time

Here’s why I hung up my scissors and quit clipping coupons.

Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease
Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

One type of food associated with the Mediterranean diet offers especially large benefits.

7 Hobbies That Help You Live Longer
7 Hobbies That Help You Live Longer

Research shows some hobbies can add years — or even decades — to your life.

Big-Ticket Things You Should Never Buy
Big-Ticket Things You Should Never Buy

In this week’s podcast: Are you wasting big money on these common purchases?

7 Surprising Advantages of Downsizing as a Retiree
7 Surprising Advantages of Downsizing as a Retiree

Downsizing your home offers many benefits, including some you may not have anticipated.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

The Next 5 Groups Who Will Get the COVID-19 Vaccine
The Next 5 Groups Who Will Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

The CDC has unveiled a schedule that likely will determine who gets the next doses.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone
8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

The 4 Best Things to Buy in January — and 4 to Avoid
The 4 Best Things to Buy in January — and 4 to Avoid

As a new year dawns, deals abound for some types of products. In other cases, it pays to wait.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.