Whether you are a super procrastinator when it comes to trip planning, or a victim of a cancelled flight/bus/train or unreliable friend, last minute hotel booking apps can save you from all sorts of misery, if your version of misery is sleeping in a car, on the airport floor, or not at all (Curbed recommends none of this). Curbed took an iPhone over to iTunes and downloaded twelve apps to try for booking a same-day hotel reservation. The best part? Not having to to talk to anyone on the phone.
Apps to use in the U.S:
Methodology: to give each app a fair shot at finding the cheapest room price, we tested seven apps on the same night to find a room at the W Atlanta Midtown. Results? They all found pretty much the same price ($230/night) Several searches brought up the price without taxes at first (around $199), but added it at the booking stage, so a side-by-side comparison resulted in no pricing advantage for anyone. (Again, this was all iPhone. Feel free to tell us in the comments that your Droid saved you $7).
So while the app you choose may not be that important, there are still reasons to download. What is highly convenient with any hotel finder app, as opposed to a hotel finder website, is using GPS to map out how far the hotels are from your current location. While all of the apps below have some sort of mapping function, the design and usability of each was variable. Here's a gallery of screen grabs from a more than two-hour quest to find a last-minute hotel deal on a breezy night in Atlanta in March. We consulted Orbitz, Hipmunk, iHotel, Hotel Snapper, Tonight (by Booking.com), Hotel Tonight, and Expedia.
In conclusion, if you really need to book a room fast, don't bother consulting more than one app. If you are more of roadtrip hotel person, Orbitz or Expedia will work just fine for you. Select from the other options based on how you feel about the design features.
Apps to try abroad: Some of the more promising hotel apps are not available in the U.S. right now, but here's hoping they'll make it here one day. In the meantime, need 90% off in Prague tonight? We've got you.
Just Book This app offers "very-last-minute-offers" for members and sign up is free. It is available for major UK and European cities, and claims to have more than 100 offerings.
Last Room This app promises it will take twenty seconds to book a room and that your fifth night is free. However it is only available in Mexico as of this post. After you sign up, you'll need to verify your email address. So if you really only have 20 seconds to book that room, you are out of luck.
Very Last Room Are you a French or German raver in search of a disco nap instead of a full night's sleep? This app promises that the later you book, the cheaper the room gets. With more than 400 locations offered, you can look forward to all the fun that price slashes bring as long the room is booked by 2:00 am. If you wait until 2:01 am, you're just going to have to go home with somebody.
Hotels Now This app covers a lot of ground. Search for rooms in the UK, Switzerland, Russia, Portugal, Lithuania, Estonia, and many more. The app promises up to 50% off standard room prices in 40 european cities.
Blink by Groupon Groupon, the Chicago-based company that can get you 60% off an oil change can also save you money on hotel rooms. But only in Europe for right now. This app work like Groupons, but for hotels.