Hotel Tonight: I am obsessed with this last minute hotel booking app

I am normally not one to shameless promote a product especially for free, and since I never get paid for these kinds of things, you can bet your bottom dollars that if I am writing a blog about this, it’s because of sheer positive experience from using the app and I want to spread the gospel.

My best friend and I have been doing quite a bit of traveling back and forth between the Bay Area and Sacramento quite frequently due to work. Sometimes we have both have back to back meetings in one city of the next, so was just easier to stay out at the Bay overnight and get to our early meetings next day without having to drive all the way back to Sacramento.  We usually try to plan our meetings together so we can go to the city together and hang out in the same hotel room together. It’s a lot like spending the night at your friend’s house but grown up style. I guess that’s the perk of being relatively independent and having somewhat seniority and flexibility with our work (she’s an ED and I am a CD).  My BFF and I have been booking traditionally with sites like Kayak, Priceline, and Hotel.com. I found out about this new app call Hotel Tonight through a friend almost a year ago, actually maybe even longer than that — downloaded it but never booked through them, finally I wanted to try it out. Pretty much what it does is give you last minute hotel deals in your city of your choice. So if you’re in say, San Francisco, last minute trip, during a weekday, and have absolute no preference on where you stay as long it isn’t a shit hole (meaning 3 stars and above, checked out and lived in by real people, have good insider intel about the hotel, not just a shitty picture, etc), you’ll love the app.

First time signup: $25 0ff  for Hotel Tonight code: KLAU59

Normally we would stay at a Kimpton, Mariott or Hilton because we want to accumulate points or what not, but the rooms in a big city like San Francisco gets up to $300 a night easy on a last minute weeknight and sometimes it’s hard to justify that even on one’s expense reports, especially if you just walk up to the place and book it last minute.  The traditional hotel booking system punishes the user for booking last minute deals. On Hotel Tonight, it’s the opposite.  It actually rewards the user for booking last minute. 

Last week we stayed at the Petite Auberge near Union Square.  It was an awesome experience.  If it wasn’t for Hotel Tonight, we wouldn’t have discovered this awesome French style B&B that offered free breakfast, and $30 Valet Parking, which is UNHEARD of in the city.  The rooms were super cute, bedding was luxurious, and no funny smells. The normal rate of valet parking in the city is anywhere between $45-$60.  The best part of all this was the rooms were a little more than $120 a night on Hotel tonight, and if I had booked it on Priceline or something like that, it would have been closer to $200.  The fact it has awesome breakfast for free till 10 on the weekdays is even more amazing. Did I mention we have a fireplace in every single room? It was pretty awesome.  Pics below!

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The hotel room! It might not be the best lighting, but the room is SUPER cute and quaint. The fireplace turns on with a switch on the wall!!!!

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Breakfast buffet – Frittata and sausages

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Hotel Auberge had super cute patio, too bad it was a bit too nippy to stay outside, but the inside area was just as cute.

I highly recommend the app if you’re looking to book last minute deals! I had such an awesome experience, and this whole experimenting with different hotels and being open to new places and adventurous was definitely one of the highlights of rolling the dice with this.  And if you want $25 off on your first hotel booking through the app, here’s the code: KLAU59, so you can enjoy your hotel tonight! (see what I did there, so clever, har har har… ok I am done).

Hotel Tonight app discount code for $25 off: KLAU59
(new sign-ups only)

 

 

 

 

Update: I finally cut the cord and I have never been happier

Optional introduction (for the TL:DR people)

Cutting the cord was a big deal for me

I lived off of cable like it was my IV. Yet in reality, I wasn’t using it nearly as much as I thought I was. While working full-time and keeping busy after work schedules, I wasn’t spending nearly as much time as I thought I was watching cable shows.  Every month, my bundle with the cable company was well over  $300 with everything included. It wasn’t even the deluxe package, but it was a small step above the basic. I don’t know why I keep the house phone around, but truth be told, it’s kind of useful when the area you live in doesn’t give you the best cell receptions. I always ask people when in the middle of a fuzzy cellphone conversation to let me call them back with my house phone, and I’ll hear the other person pause suspiciously on the other end thinking “house phone? Who still has one of those other than grandmas?” Well, guess what, I still do and I love it.  If I had more time I’ll even dedicate a blog post about why it’s awesome.  But that’s not what this post is about, it’s about cutting the cord.

 

How I did it… 

It all started with researching the alternatives and waiting for the streaming technology to mature

My initial foray into the cord cutting lifestyle was how to do it with alternative television services that specialized in streaming cable/satellite channel content.   I did some research here and there and gave up after a few nights because the price wasn’t worth it. By the time I buy all the packages and the equipment, it was costing about the same as my Cable bill.  There were lots of non-cable subscriber based options, but none was really budget friendly. So I gave it a rest and came back to this a year and a half later.  Apple TV had just come out, and so did the Chrome Cast along a few other streaming devices. Smart TV was a thing and a lot of people bought them but rarely used those features.  That was the first wave of streaming technology to me.  It seemed like it was starting to take hold of a market, a big one too, but it wasn’t still giving me enough options.  I was interested in the technology but it wasn’t mature enough for me to drop my cable subscription and to adopt/cut the cord.  So I waited again, for another year or so.  By mid-2015, Apple TV 2 had come out along with Amazon Fire, and a few other better streaming devices.  Hulu and Netflix really stepped up their game, and suddenly, the stars were aligning to make the cord cutting possible.

How to get the Cable TV experience without paying the Cable TV price

What I am doing here might not be the most sustaining and maybe a little gray, but if you’re all about maximum results and minimal input, then by all means, see if this works for you.

  1. Find out which one of your loving friends and family has a cable/tv package subscription.  AT&T Uverse, Cox, TW Cable, Xfinity, any of those that has online streaming service would work.
  2. Ask those family and friends nicely whether if its ok for you to borrow their online login account info so that you can “stream some stuff online” because you don’t have cable/dish because you’re poor. Or just be honest. Most of the time they’ll share with you. If they’re not then you’re SOL because this is an important part of cord cutting.  What I ended up doing was share my account for another streaming provider with them that they didn’t have so that it became a mutual sharing thing.
  3. Get an Apple TV (the latest model – the features are better and it doesn’t drop)
  4. Download all the channels that have streaming apps.  This means USA, DIY, Food Network, Cooking Network, ESPN, ABC, NBC, HBO, Showtime, History Channel, etc.  Sometimes your friend’s account (depending which provider they have) might let you have online access to some but not all, and vice versa, so it’s important to get multiple accounts info so that you get all your bases covered.
  5. Get Netflix and Hulu (no commercial paid version), and Viki.  You already know about the first two, and Viki is for all the international movies and shows (if you like Korean/HK/Chinese Dramas, Anime, Telenovelas and popular TV Shows from around the world subtitled in English, Spanish, Chinese and many more languages and all other non-English speaking countries).  For some reason it streams HD and doesn’t have a single ad.  It’s the best thing ever.
  6. Get a $30-$50 over the air HD antenna.
  7. Hook it all up and enjoy!

Total cost upfront cost:

Apple TV latest generation bought on sale: $110

HD antenna: $50

 

Monthly cost:

Streaming subscription per month: $9 – $24 depending on what you’re willing to cough up.

 

Conclusion:

I’ve never been happier. Would it have worked without my friends cable subscriptions? Absolutely.  However, having their access does really sweeten the deal for me.  Would I ever go back to Cable or other TV subscribers? Absolutely not, unless they give it to me for free, and plus free equipment, which will never happen.