As you may know, many hotels drop their prices at the last minute. It’s better for them to fill their rooms at a discounted rate than have them empty.
LateRooms.com is one of the prime outlets that hotels – as well as B&Bs and guesthouses – use to try to shift their unfilled rooms. The website, which is part of TUI Travel (the same company that owns holiday giants Thomson and First Choice), has around 37,000 properties on its books, and promises discounts of up to 70 per cent.
The website came back with 124 options, with their prices presented on my chosen night, plus the night before and after. It was also clear which had availability – it said “full” for those that didn’t.
You could order the results in a variety of useful ways – by distance from the city centre, star rating, positivity of guest ratings, and price (how to select order by price is not as obvious as it should be, but the facility is there). Some of the deals looked excellent – for example, I would have been tempted by £129 for a night at the swanky Lowry.
There were no fewer than 430 guest reviews of the Lowry, along with summary rating scores for service, value for money, food etc. You can only leave a rating or a review if you’ve booked through LateRooms.com, so, unlike on some review websites, there is no doubt about their authenticity.
LateRooms.com also offers a “Secret Rooms” booking option for some major UK cities. You are offered a selection of four- or five-star hotels at bargain rates. The catch is, you don’t know the name of the property until you’ve booked.
However, you are told its distance from the city centre, its facilities, and average guest rating, so it’s not a complete leap in the dark. For my night in Manchester, I could have snapped up a double room in a four-star waterfront hotel two miles from the centre for £61.
Though the number of hotels featured is excellent in the UK and much of Europe, coverage further afield is patchy – a search revealed only 48 hotels in New York, for example.
To illustrate the size of the savings for booking through LateRooms.com, hotels’ full ‘rack’ rates are also shown – but you shouldn’t read too much into these, as many properties rarely charge their rack rates.
Some properties are not bookable online.