Booking a hotel on Hotwire is designed to give you as much information about the quality of the hotel as possible without revealing the identity of the hotel. If you know this site well then you know it is easy to find the identity of the hotel despite Hotwire trying to conceal it; and then you can read actual reviews by previous visitors and decide for yourself how much grime in a hotel is too grimy for you. For a shortcut, Hotwire has a rating system where you can see how many people recommend a hotel and you can filter your results according to those parameters.
First, you need to understand how Hotwire generates these ratings. After someone books a hotel through Hotwire they are asked if they would recommend such a hotel to someone else. This yes or no ratio drives the percentage you see listed for each hotel. The percentage isn’t drawn from any other source so it is useless for identifying the hotel. It only serves as a rough guideline for the quality of stay you should expect if you were to book that hotel.
While it is common to think that a higher rated hotel is better than a lower rated one you need to be cautious when using the percentages since they often have much fewer reviews than other review sites, such as Tripadvisor. Let’s take an example with a popular hotel destination on Hotwire in New Orleans: French Quarter- Mississippi River. Hidden inside the HTML on the site is the number of reviews that goes into each percentage. For a popular 3.5 Star hotel there are only 53 reviews giving it a 90% recommended rating. As you go further down the list the number of reviews decreases significantly. Another 3.5 Star hotel a few spots down has only 5 reviews, netting it a “95% Amazing!” rating. Can it really be that “Amazing!” if only 5 people bothered to review it? Likewise, a 4.5 Star hotel gets only a 75% recommended, again with only 5 reviews. Neither of these examples tells you how nice a hotel actually is since the sample size is simply too small.
With such a limited number of reviews I frequently see the same hotel shift 20 or more percentage points in one day due to another review getting tabulated. That perfect 95% can be a 60% by the end of the week. Thankfully, Hotwire also frequently includes the Tripadvisor rating along with the approximate number of reviews written on Tripadvisor.
For identifying hotels the Tripadvisor rating is absolutely the best beacon you have for pointing to the hotel’s real name as well as the best gauge for the overall quality of the hotel. Many hotels on Tripadvisor have thousands of reviews from people who have stayed there. It’s my go-to site for evaluating if a hotel is worth staying at for the price. Once you have identified a Hotwire Hotel using this website you should look it up on Tripadvisor to get a feel for the place and see if it’s a place you would want to spend the night.
In summary, be very cautious when looking for hotels on hotwire based on the recommended percentage. A 75% or a 95% hotel could be equally “amazing!” or “crappy!”. Trust the reviews on Tripadvisor since they’re more accurate.