9 hotel booking apps every traveler should download
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We all wish we had plenty of time to research and book the perfect hotel. But that’s not always the case.
Fortunately, using mobile apps can be a quick and convenient way to research and reserve your next hotel stay, especially when you’re constantly on the move. And if your travel plans have been disrupted or you need a last-minute room, hotel apps can really save the day. You might even get access to exclusive discounts or perks, such as keyless entry or in-app room requests, as well as fast checkout and folio review.
Before you even think about planning your next trip, download these nine apps so you can grab your phone and research, book and manage hotel reservations without once powering up your computer.
Related: The best hotel credit cards
This app allows users to make bookings, view or modify current reservations and access your rewards status and activity (you get one night free for every 10 reservations booked and completed).
But, having the app does have its perks, especially since booking reward nights after Nov. 27 on the website will incur a $5 charge. But, this fee won’t be charged for reward bookings made on the app. You can use the app to access reservation details when traveling and to book reward nights without incurring a fee.
Marriott’s Bonvoy app is relatively straightforward, so creating and modifying reservations and checking points balances can be done with ease. Once you click on an already reserved trip, you can see all the amenities the property offers with a simple click, as well as activities and excursions recommended by the hotel. Any promotions, as well as the date your points expire are clearly stated on the app. If any of your reservations are missing, the “find a missing reservation button” can help. Mobile check-in allows users to notify the hotel of arrival time, and receive a notification when the room is ready. The mobile key option offers keyless entry (where available).
TPG reporter Katherine Fan loves that the app prominently lists the name of her hotel in large font, saying, “It’s really useful when I’m traveling and can’t recall the name of my hotel. I can quickly pull it up to tell a taxi driver.” She also noted the relative ease of using the room-related services function, which allows her to order extra towels or a dental kit quickly: no call to the front desk required.
This app has always been a TPG staff favorite, thanks to its ease of use during spontaneous travels. HotelTonight allows you to book from the same evening up until seven days before your stay. (In some markets, you can book as far in advance as 100 days.) Available hotel rooms are siloed into categories like basic, luxe, hip, solid, charming and high-roller so you can get a feel for the style of the property. The app works hard to give you the best last-minute rate, and the ability to swiftly peruse reviews and photos makes it easy to pick a property. Take advantage of the daily drop feature, where you swipe to find a personalized deal with a special price only valid for 15 minutes after unlocked.
HT Perks is the app’s nine-tiered loyalty program. As you progress video game-style through the different levels by reaching specific spend thresholds on the app, you’ll gain access to cheaper rates, a free in-app concierge and credits. Plus, your “status” never expires, so you can only continue to move up, never back down. If this is your first time using HotelTonight, you can get a $25 credit by using the promo code BKELLY99.
Hilton’s app has one specific feature that stands out from many other hotel booking apps, and that’s the “choose your room feature.” At select properties, you can actually see a map of the hotel layout and tap on the room you’d like to have when checking in via the app. This can be especially helpful if you want a high-floor room, prefer to be near the elevator or have a specific view in mind, like the ocean or pool. You can also pre-order your favorite pillow type, or request snacks and beverages (at an added cost) before arrival using the app. Checking out with a single tap makes your journey home a little less hectic, too. Besides these extras, you can book and manage your trips on the app, as well as view your points balance and elite status.
TPG reviews editor Nick Ellis likes the app’s digital key feature, which allowed him to unlock his room door during a recent stay. “Having this option is really useful, especially if you lose or forget your room key. Just make sure your phone is charged before you head out.”
One Night is an app for the cool kids. It features a curated collection of hip hotels available for last-minute bookings. While there are only a select number of participating cities (think: The Standard, East Village in New York City; or the Faena Hotel in Miami Beach) everything about this app experience is edited down to the detail: the black-and-yellow color scheme, the interface, the monochromatic photographs. Other cities include Nashville, New Orleans and even international hotspots such as London and Bangkok.
The booking process is very specific and spontaneous: You can only book a same-night reservation after 12 p.m. (10 a.m. in some cities) with the option to extend your stay for seven nights. Once you select a hotel, the app offers insider advice about what to do in your destination for each hour of the day.
Booking.com is one of the most popular websites for reserving hotels and vacation rentals, and the app is just as useful. In addition to its inventory of 28 million properties worldwide, you have access to all past, current and future trips offline (and the address of hotels in the local language, which can be extremely helpful when showing a taxi driver your address in China). With so many available properties, the app is ideal for booking accommodations in more obscure locations, and the interface makes it easy to see what’s included in your reservation (great for avoiding pesky resort fees) and if you can cancel without a penalty. Cheaper rates are typically offered if you prepay.
Most properties have several reviews on the app, making it easy to see the pros and cons of each property from previous guests. The so-called Genius loyalty program gives members discounts at many properties around the world, as well as perks like welcome drinks, free airport transportation and late check-out, and your Genius level and benefits are visible in the profile section of the app.
Mona Kim, a UX designer at TPG, loves using the IHG app to track deals and incentives. “IHG does a good job of letting me know they have special promotions, whether it be sales or bonus points,” she said.
In fact, there’s an entire section of IHG’s app dedicated to exclusive offers ranging from cash savings on bookings to bonus points and even, rather randomly, a free Kindle book — I got one last month.
You can book IHG hotels via the app as well as view and modify existing reservations. The app will save your room preferences and has a digital copy of your member card. You’re also able to review your points balances and activity, your elite status and use points to book stays.
More than just a hotel booking app, there’s also a travel tools section with tips (like neighborhood guides) and a white noise feature to help you sleep. You can even get the IHG Translator App, though frustratingly, the tool requires a separate download.
Travelers can book more than 900 Hyatt hotels on the World of Hyatt app as well as manage current trips. But one of the best features are the room requests, which can be made through the app. TPG’s travel analyst, Zach Griff, uses his Hyatt app to request additional amenities during two recent stays. “Both were fulfilled shortly after I submitted them,” he said. “The app lets you track the progress of the request, so no need to guess if a phone agent heard you correctly.”
The app also features Hyatt Mobile Entry, which is the hotel’s version of keyless access to your room (only available at select properties) and options to check in via the app to save time.
You can easily track your points progression and elite status, view the benefits from your status and set your room preferences to categories like non-smoking, high floor or accessible. The app makes it simple to contact Hyatt, with options to call the member line, view regional numbers, tweet or Facebook message the Hyatt Concierge.
Those really looking for steeply discounted hotel bookings should use the Expedia app. It comes with exclusive deals you may not find when booking on its website, including the app-only 2x Expedia rewards points for every dollar spent and many 20 to 30%-off deals. And remember the time you could book hotels through Expedia for 90% off through the app? We do.
The account section of the app shows your rewards activity, as well as how far you may be from unlocking elite status. When booking, you have the choice to apply your Expedia Reward points with the swipe of a button.
Besides the ability to book over 500,000 properties, you can also reserve flights, car rentals, tours and vacation packages all on your phone. When reserving hotels, the app states the payment terms (if you’re able to book now and pay later, or cancel up until a certain date), as well as a map of the hotel’s location and other important details like hotel amenities and photos.
Your bookings are available for viewing offline, and all hotel addresses are translated into the local language for easier arrival.
Feature photo by @kawamura via Twenty20
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