While new technology and mobile
applications have made old-fashion road trips easier, the thrill of spontaneity and surprise still remains. If travelers are flexible, apps can offer ease with last-minute deals, especially good for day trips and overnight stays.
Need a hotel room immediately? There's an app for that. Or for a quick turnaround -- when you just need a space to rest for a few hours -- there's an app for that too.
Here are three handy apps for mobile device users that I often use on weekend trips from Washington, D.C., to the Big Apple, which can be used for other destination cities.
HotelTonight offers discounted rooms at more than 10,000 hotels in nearly 400 destination cities including Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston to international hotspots like London, Paris and Barcelona. Reservations are for the night of the day you select the discounted rate and can be booked up to five nights.
The app recently launched Express Check-in, which allows guests to immediately pick up their keys at the front desk without a lengthy process. This zip feature is only available for select hotels using the app on iPhones, and will roll out to Android users later this month.
Over a recent holiday weekend in New York -- when locals often vacate the city and tourists take over -- HotelTonight still offered substantial deals, especially for the early worm checking the app when new postings go live at 9 a.m. Rooms can be booked until 2 a.m.
For example, the Element by Westin in Times Square, a solid-rated Starwood Hotels and Resorts property, offered one king bed for $129 on HotelTonight, compared to $169 on its own website.
For a step up, the Soho House New York, a lux-rated hotel in the trendy Meatpacking District, posted a small room with a queen size bed for $298 on the app, a nearly 15 percent savings compared to $350 on its own website.
A perk of HotelTonight is that you can "look ahead" at other days later in the week to see the estimate price range for rooms. The app also notes major events in the city, such as conventions and parades, which may spike rates.
If you've checked out of the hotel room already and don't depart until later in the day, or take a day trip and have some leisure down time, there may be a private space for relief in your city -- or coming soon. (continued...)
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