(Disclaimer: I am not a travel agent, or qualified to give advice like this at all… so read this, and follow in my footsteps at your own risk!)

My wife and I are going on vacation to New York City soon. I have been trying to wrap up all the details of the trip over the past few weeks. The last main piece that I needed to figure out was hotels. You may realize this, but hotels are expensive in the Big Apple! I looked at expedia and priceline, and hotels that didn’t have reviews about people getting bug bites while staying there were just more than I was willing to pay.

I found a solution that I was very happy with, one that allowed me to save a substantial amount of money and get a nicer hotel than I otherwise would have. Here’s the scoop… I have always been intrigued by priceline’s option to name your own price on plane tickets. In the end, I just wasn’t willing to live with the lack of control of the times that the flights would depart and arrive. But on priceline it looks like you can name your own price for anything: flights, hotels, rental cars. So I ended up deciding to see what you had to do to name your own price for a hotel room.

To make a long story short, I ended up getting a 3 star hotel for $100 a night that was advertised for $250 a night! I consider that to be substantial savings! (And, $100 a night was cheaper than any hotel that was listed under priceline’s published rates, so I got a much nicer hotel than I would have otherwise been able to afford for less than the price of a 1 star hotel.) I will let you know the final verdict after I have actually stayed there, but so far I would say I am very pleased.

Here is how it works. You pick the dates that you want to stay and you make an offer for how much you are willing to pay per night (this does not include taxes, the total including taxes will be shown on the next screen) . Then you have to pick what star hotel you want, 1, 2, 3, or 4 stars. When you click on each star it will tell you the average rate for that level hotel. Finally, and this is what gave me the comfort level I needed to take the risk, you choose a location. There is a map of Manhattan and you choose a specific area on that map that your hotel will be guaranteed to be within if you offer is accepted.

Here is an example: If you choose Midtown West (assuming you are somewhat familiar with Manhattan) your hotel will be in between 5th and 9th avenues going East and West and between 55th and 41st streets from North to South. (This is basically Times Square and the surrounding Broadway district.)

I am not sure how this would work in less dense cities, because what I really liked about this was that you could know within a few blocks exactly where your hotel would be, which from my perspective was the main risk associated with naming my own price on a hotel in NYC.

So, there is my insider information. If you are going to NYC in the near future, you should consider naming your own price on priceline.com. Have any of you had positive or negative experiences with priceline’s name your own price feature?

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