Sometimes, part of the fun of taking a vacation is the planning—researching itineraries, hotels, restaurants; making plans for special activities; even reconnecting with friends in a different environment. On the flip side, then there are the pleasures associated with last-minute travel—the fun and freedom of spontaneity, the relaxation of expectations, and the refreshing sense that all is right with the world when something serendipitous unfolds.
I recently took an overnight trip to Houston, and since I had business to accomplish, I didn’t want to splurge on a hotel. Hoteliers will tell you that to get the best deal on rooms for leisure travel, it’s best to establish a relationship with a property or hotel group so that you’re made aware of specials. But for no-frills lodging, I sometimes take advantage of services such as the company lastminutetravel.com, which act as brokers for unsold rooms. Going this route works best for, wait for it….last-minute travel. I booked a room two days before my departure and managed to score a $61 room rate at a property (Crowne Plaza River Oaks, in this case) not far from Rice Village, the Houston Museum District, and the behemoth Medical Center. The room was just fine, and even had a small fridge and a nice view of the full moon, but the hallways seemed a little timeworn-but for $61 I’m not complaining.
Here’s how it works: You request your destination and date, and then you choose which general area of town you’d like to stay in. The name of the hotel stays hidden until you book, but you can see images of the rooms and public spaces, and you can also see a list of amenities. After you book the room, you’ll see where you’ve ended up. In Houston alone, I’ve used this service to reserve rooms at the Hyatt downtown, the Hampton Suites near the Galleria, and now the Crowne Plaza at Kirby and US 59. We’ve used lastminutetravel to book rooms in Saint Louis, Plano, and Oklahoma City, too. Highly recommend.
Have you ever tried this or a similar website to reserve travel?