APP OF THE DAY: Hotel Tonight review (iOS / Android)
The idea behind Hotel Tonight is to get you a hotel room. Tonight. So the name of the app is pretty much bang-on.
It's very much a short-order type thing. So rooms become available from about 12pm on the day you're looking to stay, and can - in theory - be booked up until about 2am. So it suits people who find themselves in a city, with no place to stay.
In terms of the service, it delivers everything it promises. The app is well designed and the whole process of booking a room can take less than a minute. It's by far the best hotel booking experience we've ever had. You can add credit card details too, so if you use this app on a regular basis, there's no need to faff about each time.
As you'd expect, there are maps built in, so you can always see where the hotel is. Very handy if you're not familiar with the city in which you're staying. Once you've selected a room, you're emailed confirmation. The app also, and as you'd expect, keeps track of your bookings. You can look at previous reservations too, and the app asks how you enjoyed your stay, with the feedback used to determine if hotels are "right" for the firm.
The app lists the original room rate, - ie, full price - and tells you what you'll pay. For London, rooms start at about £120. They can go north of £300, so there's quite a wide range of rates available. Hotel Tonight selects rooms from hotels it feels "fit" with its ethos. There are various catagories, like "basic" and "cozy", which give you a feel for the place you're getting. This seemed very accurate to us.
On the night we booked, the choice seemed to be getting a nice room a bit off the beaten path, or having a less impressive room bang in the middle of town. We chose a room in town. This was a mistake. To call the Thistle Barbican "basic" would do a disservice to the word basic. What it was, in fact, was a godawful room in a hotel that, on the surface, looked very nice. That's not the app's fault though, and we knew the room was going to be basic.
There are only a couple of faults in an otherwise great app. The first is, if you've got the time, you might get a better deal for the hotel either direct or online. But that's not a massive problem, because there are savings to be had here, and it's a lot simpler than hunting around online. The only other minor quibble we had was that there's no way to specify what sort of room you want. For single people, or couples, this won't be a problem, but if you and a friend you don't want to spoon are trying to get a twin room, this is more of an issue.
But all things considered, this is a great app and it could very well save you a lot of hassle if you find yourself without a room.