HotelTonight is expanding rapidly into Europe. Thank the Lord, says this self-confessed lazy traveller.
There would be something magical, in the Arthur C. Clarke sense, about a technology that enabled you to rock up unannounced in a foreign city and not only feed and clothe and entertain yourself but even find somewhere to rest your head at a moment’s notice – and all that at a hefty discount.
No app yet does it all, but there are some strong contenders for each of the various components of the challenge. It’s easy to be sceptical about the long-term viability of these apps, whose margins are slim and whose business models rely on massive scale and the capricious whims of the hospitality and entertainment industries, but there’s no denying their convenience.
Probably the best known, and certainly the most polished, of the last-minute hotel booking experiences is HotelTonight, which is only slightly hubristic in its claim to be “taking over the globe”. Now, I’m not normally moved to pen app reviews, but this one has been brewing for a while, because this is an app with the potential to significantly impact the way I live.
For those of us called upon at short notice to attend work functions, pitches and what have you in other parts of the world, occasionally with time only to swing by an American Apparel on the way to the airport… oh, who am I kidding. I love HotelTonight because I am a lazy traveller.
Not just lazy, actually, but shamefully and spectacularly ill-prepared for the slightest of sojourns. I regularly show up in foreign cities without the slightest idea where I’ll be staying that night. Normally, things work out. But sometimes they don’t, and that can get expensive.
So it was with no small amount of gratitude and relief that I fired up the HotelTonight app when I landed in Miami a few months ago having neglected to find myself somewhere comfortable that would not require a full remortgaging. The choice was abundant and the prices were alarmingly reasonable.
Likewise when a friend was visiting from New York a few weeks ago and we had, uh, neglected to book her a hotel. Bish, bash, bosh, and it was sorted. She never knew. Seriously, this app is like mountain rescue for the terminally disorganised.
So what am I saying here – that this is an app for forgetful losers? Well, yes and no. It is helpful for those types, to be sure. For the majority of its user base, however – provided you don’t mind living a little dangerously – HotelTonight provides an easy, reasonable and remarkably slick way to get yourself a last-minute room in pretty much any major city.
As for the “I can’t be bothered to get the last Tube home, I just want to carry on drinking and get a hotel near the office” use case, we pass no comment. But it’ll work for that too. Enjoy.