If you are always on the hunt for great hotel discounts like I am, you may have heard of a Priceline feature called Express Deals. During your hotel search, Priceline speckles in mystery hotel offers that provide extra savings of up to 60% off. They also have a page called Priceline Express Deals that’s dedicated to all the mystery hotel listings at steep discounts.
Sounds awesome right? Well, there’s a catch. They don’t reveal the name of the hotel until after you pay, and the booking is non-refundable. This is a neat money-saving option for people who like a little ambiguity and adventure with their hotel stays. On the flip side, this can be an inconvenience for those of us who are particular about where we’re staying and like to know exactly what we’re getting into.
Well today, this mystery will be solved! I want to share one of my best money-saving tricks for booking Priceline hotel rooms at steeply discounted rates. Now I don’t stay at hotels too often, but when I do, you’ll know I’m on the hunt for the best deal before I just book at face value.
This trick allows you to book the exact hotel you want at the Express Deals discounted rate vs the rate they offer upfront for the hotel, which is never as good as the Express Deal rate. By putting in a little legwork, you’ll be able to save a good amount of money! But trust me, it isn’t even that much legwork! Once you learn this trick and practice it a few times, you’ll be able to pinpoint and identify Priceline Express Deal hotels in a matter of seconds.
WHAT ARE PRICELINE EXPRESS DEALS?
Priceline offers mystery hotels for extra savings of up to 60% off. The catch is that the exact hotel is revealed only after booking. There are usually different price points for the hotel if you select your room type. However, you’ll see the greatest savings if you select the option to have your room assigned to you at check-in. The Priceline Express Deal hotel bookings are also non-refundable.
Note: Make sure you are not going to have a change of plans from the time of booking to the time of stay (easier said than done). These hotel bookings are non-refundable so there is some risk involved.
I usually leverage Express Deals if I am going on group trips of 6+. Chances are if I have to cancel or bail, there are enough folks going to take my spot/hotel room so it isn’t completely wasted if I can’t make it. I also use Express Deals for last-minute stays since I’ll know for a fact that I’m going on a trip and that I’ll need a room.
FIND OUT EXACTLY WHAT HOTEL YOU’LL GET WITH PRICELINE EXPRESS DEALS: HOW-TO GUIDE
Figuring out which hotel you’re going to get on Priceline is going to involve a few minutes of your time and perhaps a notepad to jot down some numbers. Here’s exactly how you do it.
1. SEARCH FOR YOUR DESTINATION AND TRAVEL DATES
Before you begin narrowing down hotels for your upcoming vacation, be sure to familiarize yourself with the best neighborhoods to stay in as well as landmarks and attractions you want to see. This research should help you better pinpoint your ideal hotel location when choosing a hotel.
Priceline Express Deals allows you to filter down on the neighborhoods of your choice, so make sure you do this if you have something specific in mind (or even if you just want to exclude hotels in sketchier areas). If you aren’t familiar with your destination’s neighborhoods, you can refer to Priceline’s neighborhood list and Google the neighborhoods to learn more about them.
For our example today, we’re going to look at hotels offered on Priceline for Paris, France.
2. HEAD TO THE EXPRESS DEALS PAGE, NARROW DOWN THE CHOICES
Head on over to the Express Deals page. From here, choose a hotel that’s of your liking in terms of its attributes: location, price, amenities offered, hotel star rating, and customer rating. Remember, at this point, you cannot go by the name of the hotels, only features and descriptions, so some flexibility is required on your part.
Luckily, Priceline allows you to use the amenities filter even when you switch your hotel search to the Express Deal listings, so make sure to take advantage of this feature!
If free WiFi, free breakfast, or a hotel gym is important to you, be sure to include it in your amenities filter. I recommend you check the boxes for everything you could possibly want at first, just to see what is available. As you browse through the deals, you can uncheck the amenities one by one based on the level of importance to you. Narrow your Express Deals list down to a few that you’re actually willing to consider staying at.
As you can see here, my search for Paris, France has resulted in 1202 Express Deal hotels. We’re going to work to narrow these down based on my preferences. Ideally, I’d like to stay in the hip neighborhood of Le Marais at a 4+ star hotel, and I’m looking to pay no more than $150 per night.
In this example, let’s say I’ve scrolled through the list and found that I’m very interested in the hotel with the following details:
- priced at $147, originally $190
- located in the Le Marais neighborhood
- 4-star hotel
- 7+ customer rating
- 100+ reviews available
- Specific room names include: “One King Bed – Suite” and “One King Bed – Executive Suite”
Note: Taking note of the specific room names isn’t required, but it will be your foolproof superpower towards the end of the process. You’ll be able to confirm your hotel with 100% confidence and it’ll dispel all previous doubts about choosing the wrong hotel from your mind, trust me!
3. OPEN UP ANOTHER TAB WITH THE REGULAR HOTEL SEARCH RESULTS
In the new tab, recreate your Priceline search again, selecting the same neighborhood and the same dates of travel. This might be available already on your original search tab, so you should just be one click away.
This time, you’re going to make use of the filters Priceline offers you to narrow down hotels. Take the amenities, neighborhood details, and hotel rating details you gathered when you selected your mystery hotel of choice and use them to filter down the full hotel list.
If you were able to narrow down your list pretty severely with just those filters, congrats! You’re almost at the finish line.
On the other hand, if you still have about 20 mystery hotels listed, it’s totally okay if your inputs only narrowed down your list slightly. You’re still on the right track.
In our example: just by filtering for the neighborhood (Le Marais – Republique), hotel star rating (4-stars), and customer rating (7+), I was able to narrow my search of 1066 Paris hotels down to only 7. Sweet!
4. START PAYING ATTENTION TO THE HOTEL PRICES NOW
Now you’re going to rule out hotels based on the original price of the hotel. You can ignore the discount/current price since those are irrelevant for this search. Pay attention to the original price.
Often times, the original list price shown on the Express Deal matches up perfectly to the price listed on the results page. That makes our job easier. Other times, it could be off by a few dollars, which introduces a small curveball, but nothing that prevents us from working our magic here.
In our example: The Express Deal I want mentions that my hotel room’s original price is $190. This is the number I’ll be looking for in the list of 7 remaining hotels. I’ll be looking for something around $190 in the original price.
Et voila! The first hotel listed has a list price of $192 (close enough to my $190). No other hotel listing is close to my $192 option, so this is going to be my top contending guess.
5. ADD UP THE CLUES AND CONFIRM YOUR GUESS
Now go into the mystery hotel’s details page. There are so many clues on this page for you to use to confirm your guess. Pay attention to the following and compare them to your guessed hotel’s details: number of stars, customer rating, number of reviews left by customers, and even top amenities. (I typically ignore the amenities list until I really need to use it— the process usually ends before I need it. The list is just too big and tedious to go through.)
Last but not least, is your guessed hotel listed in the “Guaranteed to be one of these hotel brands” section? All of these details should help you confirm what you’re getting if you book the Express Deal you chose in the beginning.
In our example: The Crowne Plaza Paris Republique listing is a dead giveaway that this is the exact hotel listed on the Express Deals page. Why? It’s all in the details!
The Crowne Plaza Republique hotel details:
- 4-star hotel
- 7.5 customer rating
- 116 reviews available
These high-level details could not have matched up better to the Express Deals details. At this point, I pretty much know for sure that if I were to book the Express Deal in question, I would get the Crowne Plaza Paris Republique.
6. USE THE AMENITIES FILTER AND ROOM NAMES
Sometimes, there could be 2-3 hotels that fit within your hotel profile based on just the above details. In this case, you can use the amenities list to narrow down your search even more. Maybe one hotel has a free airport shuttle or pool while the others don’t. Maybe one has a free breakfast while the others don’t.
Lastly, if you need ultimate confirmation that you’ve identified the hotel correctly, go into the hotel details page and check out the room names and descriptions. If the Express Deal you chose offers a regular king room and an executive king room, then make sure the hotel listing also offers these variations. The exact wording of the room description can differ, but they should at least offer the same type of rooms.
If the room descriptions on the hotel listing are nothing like the descriptions on the Express Deal listing, then this is an indication that you’ve identified the wrong hotel. (Ex: The hotel lists that all rooms have king beds BUT the Express Deal offers rooms with double beds only.) Not to worry, go back to your top contender list and try again!
7. APPLY ADDITIONAL DISCOUNTS BEFORE CHECKING OUT
I’m all about finding and applying additional discounts whenever possible. Even though Express Deals are already offering up to 60% off hotel retail prices, Priceline often has 10-15% off promo codes that specifically apply towards Express Deals.
So how do you get these promo codes? I find that after booking a car rental with Priceline, they usually send me a coupon for a future Express Deals booking. Alternatively, you can do a quick search on the web for these codes (check out sites like retailmenot.com, or use the Chrome extension Honey)— the chance to save an extra $25 to $300 on a hotel booking (based on the cost of your booking) is so worth the extra 5 minutes searching the internet.
You can also check cashback sites like Rakuten/Ebates or your credit card portal to see if you can score additional cashback, points, or extra rewards for purchasing with Priceline.
And there you have it, you’ve just saved yourself a % of the amount you would have paid had you “knowingly” booked that hotel. It’s really that easy, so try for yourself! Go get those Priceline Express Deals savings!