Priceline rocks

Here’s how to get a 4-star hotel at a low-star price (Laura Bly, USA Today)

The desk clerk at Honolulu’s Hilton Hawaiian Village leaned across the counter, lowering her voice to a conspiratorial whisper.

“How did you get that price?” she asked, noting that the $75 per-night tab for my ocean-view room was about 60% off the best Hilton .com rate and even lower than the kamaaina (locals-only) discount.

My secret:

The article goes on to provide all sorts of good tips for scoring wonderful hotel rooms on Priceline. It’s a great primer, and points to sites with more detailed info. We use Priceline and Hotwire all the time for the long weekend trips we take, and have scored some fantastic deals on hotel rooms (and also on rental cars) — stretching the travel budget (and making more trips possible).

Nice hotels make a trip a lot more fun, but there is no damn good reason to pay ridiculous rack rates. If you have a little flexibility, you can win nice four-star hotel rooms for two-star prices. I haven’t managed any deal quite as good as the author’s ($75 for the Honolulu Hilton is nice), but our stays at the Edmonton and Calgary Westin hotels for $50/night a couple of years ago were pretty sweet (and we got a few extra perks thanks to my Starwood Preferred Guest membership).