When it comes to booking a hotel, is there ever a tried-and-true “best” way to do so? Hotel options start popping up on your screen as soon as you book your flight, asking if you want to bundle your flights with a promoted and advertised hotel somewhere close to your destination. For some people, this definitely might be the easiest course of action to take. But… is it the best?
When it comes to actually taking the time to research and find an awesome hotel deal, having the convenience of booking, managing reservations, and comparing rates through a specific app has its perks. Especially if you’re someone who prefers specific amenities or focuses on the feel of a hotel, whether it be more fitness-oriented, eclectic aesthetic, or trendy and healthy. Not only that but if flexibility and occasional last-minute hotel rooms are usually a part of your plans, nailing down the best way to get a hotel is vital.
We’ve compared eight different hotel booking apps to see what the best way to get a great hotel in Miami is, so you don’t have to. We estimated booking a hotel in Miami for a two-night stay within a month of the publishing of this article, March 31st – April 2nd. We also experimented with the best method to get a hotel in Miami the same day with basic amenities of free Wi-Fi and offered breakfast.
BEST FOR LAST-MINUTE BOOKINGS – HOTEL TONIGHT
Like the name implies, this app is best used if you’re in a last-minute pinch and need a hotel…um tonight. With hotel, motel, and resort options spanning the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia, users get a plethora of booking options where hotels are trying to fill unsold rooms. It also models as a regular hotel booking app, allowing users to book hotels up to 100 days in advance.
Once you join the HT Perks program, you’ll get access to even more discounts.
It has one of the best deal features of any hotel booking app. The Daily Drop allows you to find a personalized deal in your specified city with a special price valid for only 15 minutes. You can use this for a last-minute, same-day hotel booking or even for a booking for a specific set of dates that other hotel booking apps don’t offer. The interface is also very sleek and appealing to use while showing you the prices of hotels and what they used to be listed for and the deal price offered now. It really puts in perspective how much you’re saving.
It doesn’t boast as many filters and amenity choices to choose from, but I was still able to select parking options, Wi-Fi, and breakfast. It also only allows you to book a hotel up to 100 days in advance, which limits you if you try to plan ahead. I also didn’t see as many options coming up as I did in other apps. Because of this, I felt my options were limited, especially at my price point with amenity filters.
Hyatt Centric Brickell Miami – $203 per night, originally $590!
BEST FOR GETTING A ROOM CHEAPER THAN ITS RACK RATE — HOTWIRE
Hotwire is cool because it negotiates deals on unsold rooms, giving you pretty hefty deals and discounts on hotel rooms. With its Hot Rate hotels offerings, you can get an insane deal on a hotel room by letting the app choose the hotel for you. Sounds weird, right? Well, it’s a calculated risk. You’re shown a price, hotel rating, general location, and the names of three hotels. It’s kind of like a fun chance game because you book a room and then see which hotel it’ll be at from that list.
It allows you to toggle between the map view where you can target specific areas or view options through a list. It gives you the option to choose the 31% off Hot Rate hotel option (between three hotels) or your list of hotels that match your criteria.
Limited options to sign in with, with only Apple or Facebook. I had to punch in my email and make a password, which is annoying to do. I mean, who keeps tracks of passwords in 2023? I wasn’t a huge fan of the interface either compared to other booking apps.
Hot Rate Hotel Deal — I’m up for the adventure so the Hot Rate deal was showing a king-sized room with free parking, breakfast, and Wi-Fi for $222 per night at a three-star hotel. That’s a steal considering the other options in the target neighborhood close to the airport and downtown are over $280 per night, so it’s a 30% price break.
BEST FOR GATHERING POINTS — HILTON HONORS
This was the only hotel-branded app we decided to download and look into because Hilton does actually have some serious perks. If you’re a Hilton hotel snob, then booking through this app could give you some serious leverage. When you get your free member signup, you’ll get access to guaranteed Hilton Honors discounted rates, account points to use for free nights, no resort fees on reward stays, digital check-ins and check-outs, access to free Wi-Fi, and premium bonuses the more you stay at Hilton-owned bookings.
So probably the best thing about this app is that it allows you to choose your room. When booking a hotel room, you can see a map layout of the hotel and select the room you want, including specific floors and views. While the name implies booking Hilton hotels, you can also book hotels brands Curio, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hampton, Home2 Suites, Homewood Suites, Tapestry, and Tru, giving you a variety of options that are found throughout the world.
If you’re not a Hilton Honors member, then this app is gonna be worthless. The sign-up makes you input all of your information, which is annoying but the points you earn as you book are worth it. These hotel chains can be pricey, so the lowest you can possibly filter in Miami is $223 in Miami and even that is leading you pretty far away.
Hampton Inn Miami-Coconut Grove/Coral Gables – $288 per night with your membership 10% discount.
BEST FOR SEARCHING BASED ON AMENITIES: BOOKING.COM
With the word “booking” literally in its name, the app allows you to look at millions of different properties spanning hotels, rental properties, vacation rentals, and more. The app also shows information in over 40 languages, which can be helpful when trying to show a specific hotel’s address to a taxi driver in another country.
You can sign up for free for the “Genius” loyalty program, leading to additional discounts of drinks, airport transportation, and more.
Can instantly create an account linking your Google, Facebook, or Apple profile and you’re automatically starting at a 10% discount for all bookings on the app. Can sort your options by popularity, distance from downtown, star rating, and price. Using the same filters of pricing, free Wi-Fi, parking, and breakfast, along with being less than one mile from Miami’s city center, it was actually easier to navigate with fewer choices.
Four options appeared for us instead of hundreds, which I actually preferred because I knew these were important amenities for me to have.
You can’t see your room choices until you press another button when selecting a hotel option, so it requires a little more navigation for comparison.
citizenM Miami Worldcenter showed up with an 8.7-star rating. I noticed that the price was even slightly lower than what appeared on Hotels.com, which is a huge perk. You can book a king-sized room for a total of $497 for two nights with free wifi, and iPad in each room, a breakfast buffet, and nearby city attractions.
BEST FOR LUXURY STAYS – @hotel
As the first hotel booking platform for Instagram, users get exceptional travel discount rates through the app’s largest travel network on social media. Users typically save between 30%-50% off hotel rates that aren’t made publicly available on other booking sites. Additionally, @hotel has over 500,000 affiliated worldwide hotels in its network.
Scrolling through beautiful travel destinations on Instagram and you’re curious to see how much it would be to book something? You don’t even have to leave the app. Simply go to @hotel on Instagram and you can plug in specific cities, regions, or names of a hotel or luxury stay either by messaging the account directly or using the link in their bio. From there, you’ll get a private booking rate.
It’s very easy to use, sleek, boasts high functionality, and gives you boat-loads of information that other booking apps don’t lay out for you, including a list of high-priority nearby destinations.
If you don’t use Instagram, then this may not be your ideal choice. @hotel does have a sister app called Tripscout you can download, but it doesn’t seem to give you all the hefty discounts that it offers through its Instagram page. When plugging in the same dates, amenities, and luxury five-star rating, I didn’t get any of the same results or discounts as I did through Instagram.
Carillon Miami Wellness Resort – $797.67 per night, originally $1,249 per night. That’s a whopping 36% discount.
BEST FOR BOOKING AN ENTIRE CONDO OR HOUSE FOR YOURSELF – AIRBNB
Unlike most hotel booking apps that cater to hotels specifically, AirBnB – meaning “Air Bed and Breakfast” – offers people an easy way to book apartments, homes, guest houses, and more. The app allows people to rent out their homes in a relatively stress-free way and as a result, opens up hundreds – if not thousands – of “homier” rentals to tourists looking to check out an area.
When punching in the dates for a two-night private (entire place) stay a month in advance with free parking, Wi-Fi, and a “beachfront view” for some extra spice, we were given a decent list of 22 homes. The cheapest option was as low as $139 per night, which is great since you also don’t have to go to a front desk to check in or out and you get more than one room to roam around in, unlike one hotel room.
AirBnB is notorious for showing prices of rentals in your target budget but then you’re bombarded with a lot of extra fees. That first one should’ve realistically come out around $278 total for two nights, but with a surprise $90 cleaning fee, $52 service fee, and $37 worth of taxes, it was over $450. This can make it tricky to truly sort through what you want to spend since you don’t see the final cost until after you hit “reserve” and see the cost breakdown.
It can also be hard to find something exactly that you need. A lot of AirBnBs cater to larger groups, so finding something for one person might be hard and you could be staying in a place that has multiple bedrooms.
Ocean Views In Paradise #2 – $225 per night for a total of $696.96 after taxes and additional fees.
BEST FOR IN-APP REWARDS — HOTELS.COM
With “hotel” literally in its name, booking a hotel in Miami on this app has some serious advantages and perks. First, when you make your profile, you can access reward status through your profile, earning one free night stay at a hotel for every 10 nights you stay. Additionally, booking hotels through the app through rewards points won’t incur a fee, unlike booking through the website. The app also boasts “Deals For Tonight” features for last-minute reservations in your target city and area, which is helpful for anyone who finds themselves making last-minute plans.
It took me less than one minute to create a free membership account linked to my Google account. Within seconds, I was able to set filters, including my maximum price of $270 per night, with included amenities of breakfast and Wi-Fi. From there, we got offered over 300 hotel options that fit within our target area of the city, and we could even view all options on an easy-to-navigate map view. Each hotel option also shows the number of reviews it has received, as well as its current rating out of 10 stars before you even click on each individual one.
I couldn’t figure out the view to see my options priced low to high, so I was seeing more expensive hotel options higher on the list that weren’t necessarily better than the cheaper options.
Nuvo Suites Hotel – $277 per night thanks to a 15% in-app member discount, originally $324.
BEST OVERALL: EXPEDIA
Probably one of the most well-known booking sites for all things hotels, Expedia can come in handy featuring exclusive deals of up to 40% on its app that may not show up on the website. Additionally, by booking through the app, users earn two points per dollar spent, which can be used to save money on future bookings, as well as get free breakfast, spa credits, room upgrades, and more. And while we’re here to compare hotel booking apps, Expedia does allow you to also book flights, car rentals, and vacation packages from the convenience of your phone.
Looks nearly identical to Hotels.com when it comes to filtering your price range and amenities. I was also able to view hotel options priced low to high which is always my preference. I love knowing that by booking on the app, I’m earning double the points on all hotel bookings to earn great rewards.
Interface is extremely dull and boring. It’s just not a pretty app to be using.
Hotel AKA Brickell – $331 per night, originally $414 per night.