A couple of weeks ago, I had a very special travel experience that I wanted to share with FAJO’s readers. It was my sister’s birthday, so my husband and I decided to visit her in Montréal. As full-time journalists, we always do everything months in advance, in fear that the best hotels will be at capacity or extremely expensive. For this particular adventure, however, we decided to try something new and opted for the HotelTonight app.
Before I get into details of my experience, let me tell you a bit more about the app itself. Founded in 2011, it helps the user book hand-selected hotels at competitive prices, from the day of to up to 7 days in advance. For hotels, HotelTonight is a strategic partner for filling rooms that would otherwise remain empty. The app is currently available in more than 500 destinations around the world. Their tagline is “plan less, live more” and the entire booking experience takes about 10 seconds once you select the hotel you would like to stay at.
Now, back to the actual experience. I was originally nervous to book through the app – seven days before the trip was “too late” in my mind. From about a week before the trip, I downloaded the app and kept browsing for offers on a daily basis. With each day, the number of hotels listed would increase. I got so carried away that I even started looking up hotel deals in other cities! Each hotel was conveniently labeled with a word that would best describe it; there was “hip”, “luxe”, “basic” and more. I was glad to see some very high-end options as well as some cute boutique properties that I hadn’t heard of before.
Each listing had images, room descriptions (all written with humour), Wi-Fi availability (so important!), a list of amenities, food options, a map to show the exact location of the hotel, and a display of the original price and the HotelTonight discounted offer. I was also able to select the dates and see the options based on my arrival/departure. Lastly, each hotel had a rating and listed the number of people who reviewed it. The weather comments were great too, like this one: “So the weather is not so hot – but the hotel restaurant has your name all over it.” I chuckled and enjoyed browsing extensively, realizing that I could easily spend about 15 minutes a day just reading the description and interacting with the app – it was fun!
In the end, I broke my rules and waited till the day before the trip to make the booking. As options kept increasing, my husband and I decided to be adventurous, so we picked a boutique location that looked incredibly trendy and funky – Hotel Chez Swann. The rate was also very competitive, so this was an easy decision.
I added my credit card information, the discount code I had on-hand, and booked in truly less than 10 seconds. My favourite part was that to confirm the booking I had to trace the company’s logo (a hotel bed) with my finger, instead of clicking on a typical Submit button. The whole process was exciting – from start to finish – and it was incredibly easy.
Since the booking and payment had already been done, this significantly sped up the check-in process. The location of the hotel was excellent and the actual design was a perfect fit for a fashion couple. Hotel staff members were friendly and the place was very, very hip with excellent furniture and décor. Not to mention that the ground floor was home to Le Pois Penché, the renowned brasserie where we had our breakfast every morning.
HotelTonight’s CEO, Sam Shank, once said that their customers tell them that they’ve “changed the way they travel.” I’m so addicted to this app now that I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I’m planning several upcoming trips and have already started browsing through the options. Who knows where the app will take me!