Hotwire.com has lost the sizzle it might have once had with travelers and travel experts, as most attention is focused on meta-search sites like Kayak.com. Still, Hotwire.com's steep discounts on hotels, flights and rental cars might have appeal for those who can stand some uncertainty. The catch is you don't know the name of the provider and other details until after booking. Unlike Priceline.com, where users bid on the price, Hotwire.com provides a set price, but, like Priceline.com, not other details of the property, flight, car rental fee, etc. Dissatisfied users say the hotel rating system at Hotwire.com is too high, and they ended up in a "dump" or undesirable part of town. They also say the customer service agents were not helpful. Although the hotel savings can be substantial, less flexible travelers could be better served by Kayak.com, which looks at more than 200 online travel sites.Hotwire.com isn't a top pick by any reviewers we found, but it receives some attention at Travel and Leisure magazine, Kiplinger.com and The Washington Post. User reviews at Viewpoints.com are largely negative. It does earn some positive comments for car rentals at PracticalHacks.com, however.
1. Travel and Leisure
Travel and Leisure's Tom Samiljan identifies travel sites in 28 categories. Hotwire.com takes the spot as runner-up to Priceline.com in the "score a cut rate room" category.
Review: Best Travel Websites, Tom Samiljan, Oct. 2010
2. The Washington Post
Hotwire.com is included in this listing of best travel web sites. It is said to be similar to Priceline, except without the bidding. Michael Shapiro likes that fees are shown before booking and that you can see the rate before deciding if you are getting enough of a bargain. He notes that the rack rate for each hotel -- the nondiscounted price -- is displayed for comparison, but adds that guests usually can get bookings at lower cost. Because this review is older, however, some details are now out of date.
Review: 54 Online Travel Sites to Bookmark Now, Michael Shapiro, Feb. 3, 2008
Hotwire.com has garnered more than 100 user reviews, but most are negative. In fact, Hotwire.com receives a low rating among travel sites at Viewpoints.com. Users say the hotel rating system is higher than it should be and phone support is virtually nonexistent.
Review: Hotwire.com Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com
PracticalHacks.com recommends Hotwire.com for those looking for the best deal for car rentals. Not knowing the agency in advance is only a minor negative, the reviewer says, because all are "well-known national brands."
Review: The Ultimate List of Top Travel Sites, "Kevin", Oct. 6, 2008