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-   -   need handholding on priceline (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/need-handholding-on-priceline-473121/)

flygirl Sep 9th, 2004 07:55 AM

need handholding on priceline
 
I don't like the idea of accepting something "sight unseen"! (meaning not knowing before it's purchased what it is).

If I put in 4 star, Mayfair/Soho - what are the odds of getting an odd/crappy hotel? is there truly no way to decline if they 'buy' the hotel for you? shouldn't you get to see what and where it is first? they sure picked a big swath to call Mayfair and Soho!

sigh.


ira Sep 9th, 2004 07:57 AM

Hi fly,

You must approach priceline very tentatively.

Have you been to www.biddingfortravel.com ?

Ann41 Sep 9th, 2004 08:03 AM

There truly is no way to "decline" once your bid has been accepted. Priceline once changed a car reservation for me, as I stupidly booked it out of DCA instead of IAD, but that's only because they saw I was a regular customer, and it was one of their links that caused me to make the mistake. They stressed over and over that it was a one time thing.

I've never had a problem with a hotel booked through priceline. I only bid on 4* or 5* and the hotels I've stayed at have always definitely been rated correctly.

Bailey Sep 9th, 2004 08:05 AM

Flygirl.......I've had both great/bad luck with Priceline.
The upside? If you pick a 4* they have been great. BUT they do have a way of stretching the ""borders"".

mclaurie Sep 9th, 2004 09:12 AM

If you want handholding, go to biddingfortravel.com. Scroll down to London hotels, click. The "London hotel list" will be the first post on the next page. Click that and scroll down to the 4* hotels listed in Mayfair/Soho. Read the list. If there are any there that you absolutely couldn't manage to stay in, abandon the idea of PL or maybe check another area or star level.

Click back and look to see which hotels people are "winning". I notice a few getting The Meridien Mayfair ($105, 135), a Waldorf Hilton @ $105, the Thistle charing Cross for $95-100...

Make sure you understand the concept of a "free re-bid". Also know it seems to be easier to win bids with shorter stays. You should read the FAQ on bft and maybe get them to help you place a bid. betterbidding.com is another option that many people feel is a "nicer" site.

Patrick Sep 9th, 2004 09:19 AM

Flygirl, I understand completely. If you are like me and the exact location or type of hotel is important, Priceline is simply not a good idea. I don't care if they let me stay for free, I don't like the disappointment of having a hotel I don't like or in a place I don't want to be.

I used Priceline only once -- in New York -- and because it was only for one night. My experience wasn't good as I got "the worst room in the house" and was told by the desk staff it was because I booked through Priceline and because it was only for one night.

But if you don't care exactly where you're going to be or whether the hotel is modern or traditional or whatever, and are only concerned with getting a good price, I can't think of a better option than Priceline! Even then it takes work to get the best price.

Kayb95 Sep 9th, 2004 09:22 AM

Yes, there is an element of risk involved in bidding on Priceline. You just have to determine if you would be comfortable enough with the potential results if your bid is accepted. The Bidding For Travel website helps tremendously in that respect. It can save you a ton of money. We normally stay in a timeshare in London, but whenever we do need a hotel, I would not hesitate to use Priceline.

We are normally comfortable in a 3*-type room here in the US (decent but doesn't have to be luxury.) So I feel pretty confident in bidding on a 4* in London. We won the Dolphin Square Hotel in Westminster last December for $97/night and got the Heathrow Marriott for $67 in July. :)

gnrbernstein Sep 9th, 2004 09:28 AM

Patrick - If your hotel was a chain (or even not) I would complain to corporate headquarters (or the hotel management). If they didn't want people using Priceline, they wouldn't give Priceline rooms to sell. Your experience shouldn't be any different than getting the room through a traditional travel agent or group discount.

Make sure you let Priceline know as well.

<font color=#990033>~gnr~</font>

Patrick Sep 9th, 2004 09:44 AM

It was the New York Times Square Hilton and I did let Hilton know, since I am a Hilton Honors member. I actually got an email back apologizing but saying basically &quot;that's the way it is -- somebody has to get those rooms when the hotel is full and it is just as likely to be someone who booked on Priceline as anywhere else.&quot; Yea, right, certainly not what the person at the desk said.

I did not notify Priceline. It is doubtful I'll be using them again -- but not just because of that incident. More for the reasons I've mentioned above. I like saving money, but sometimes there are a number of things more important to me that just the price.

jlm_mi Sep 9th, 2004 09:46 AM

I don't quite understand the idea of &quot;shouldn't you get to see what and where it is first?&quot; in your post.

Priceline makes it very clear that they offer hotels cheaply, and you don't know what you're getting, and you can't get a refund if your bid is accepted. Other companies offer different options. You can go to hotel web sites, pay more, and know exactly what you're getting.

There are lots of options, but there's no should. If knowing is important, then as others have said, don't use priceline. If price is more important, and you're willing to do the research, then give priceline a try. There's really nothing hidden or shady about it - they tell you up front how it works, and you can choose to use it or not. Personally, I think it's great for many, many situations, so I use it frequently!

flygirl Sep 9th, 2004 09:52 AM

thanks everyone! I don't think priceline is for me. I'd rather pay extra and get a hotel smack dab in the middle - but know what I am getting, and make an informed choice.

I'll look into biddingfortravel - but I'm thinking I may not do that either. I can get 145 GBP for the Marriott County Hall, and I think I can get into the Langham (used to be Hilton) or Copthorne Tara for a similar price. I looked at One Aldwych and they're around 235 pounds, if I can get them to come down some we might even just go with that.

thanks again! I'll look into the other sites you've mentioned.

WillTravel Sep 9th, 2004 09:53 AM

Priceline works best if you know you are getting accommodation that is a couple steps up from what you would normally get. So if I know I would stay at accommodation ranging from a hostel to a 2* hotel, a 4* hotel on Priceline for the same total price is almost certainly a good deal for me. But even so, not always, since location is very important to me.

On numerous Priceline stays, there has been only one time that I felt we may have been given a &quot;Priceline room&quot;, and the overall deal was still so good that I wasn't about to complain. Otherwise, due to a combination of careful research and luck, I've had very good experiences.

mclaurie Sep 9th, 2004 10:22 AM

Yikes those prices are high you're quoting. Why not have a look at lastminute.com or laterooms.com or wotif.com (all UK sites) if the trip is imminent? Also, have recently been looking on lastminutetravel.com which will quote in dollars. They have Berners hotel for around $179--that's dollars. Good place right off Oxford St.

Anonymous Sep 9th, 2004 11:38 AM

Just a clarification -- biddingfortavel.com is NOT an alternative booking site, it's a site for discussing Priceline. So if you've decided not to go with PL, don't bother visiting BFT.

Ann41 Sep 9th, 2004 11:47 AM

Wait-I did forget one big problem my husband ran into using priceline. He was staying at a Marriott in Fairfax for a week last year when the DC area was hit by a hurricane. The hotel lost power and was evacuated, but they didn't actually tell my husband! Anyway, they told him that he could move to any other Marriott but would have to pay that hotel's regular rates, and he'd have to talk to Priceline about getting a refund for what he'd paid to the Fairfax location.

He ended up staying with a friend, and got a full refund from Marriott, along with an extra $200 for his trouble, after he wrote a nasty letter. He never contacted priceline because it was all Marriott's doing.

djkbooks Sep 9th, 2004 05:39 PM

We've had fabulous luck with Priceline for London (also Boston, New York, Baltimore and other cities).

In May, we stayed at the Waldorf Hilton on Aldwych (Mayfair/SoHo 4*) for $100/night. We were thrilled. Especially with the location.

We're returning this month due to a magnificent package (air and hotel) also booked with Priceline.

Spending a lot of time at biddingfortravel is definitely essential. Among other things, you can find a list of Priceline hotels by area and check reviews. You can also peruse recent winning bids for your dates, to see what's coming up. (This is how I &quot;lucked into&quot; the Waldorf Hilton.)

Note that the Copthorne Tara regularly comes up on Priceline (and has very mixed reviews).

Hotel rates in London are so high, not to mention the taxes (and 4*'s are more like 3*'s stateside) that the huge savings with Priceline will likely more than offset any quibbles you have have with the hotel (location, etc.).

Of course, everything turns on your dates. And, it does pay to do your homework before bidding. It's also critical to understand the bidding process and keep your wits about you.

Sometimes, you can get a pretty good idea of the Priceline hotels available for your dates by shopping a package (where you can select flight times and choose a hotel). (However, you'd need to familiarize yourself with the Priceline areas.) For that matter, you might want to check out the package prices and see if you can do better otherwise.


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