The website Secret Escapes offers travel for less. It is a similar kind of concept to Groupon and Wowcher et al. whereby users register with the website using their email address and then receive deals periodically into their inboxes. The emails are laid out in a similar way to other deals’ emails, with a selection of random hotels that are the best deals of the moment, or the most popular ones. While the emails are obviously written in a way to sell the hotels, since Secret Escapes is a business after all, the prices and deals quoted on the website do appear genuine, and they also have links to Tripadvisor profiles for each hotel, where you can also search for hotel prices, so this is one way of ensuring that Secret Escapes’ prices are actually the cheapest.
One thing to note about Secret Escapes over other hotel deals websites such as hotels.com or alpharooms, is that the hotels included on Secret Escapes tend to be for a short period only, similar to lastminute.com, but the period could be weeks in advance, rather than the next weekend or the following few weeks only.
I came across this website a few months before I actually made my first booking. I was slightly dubious that the claims of saving such high percentages were genuine – after all, many other websites claim the same thing. I joined with my email address after being referred by a friend, and when I booked my first hotel with Secret Escapes, it was for a specific hotel in Edinburgh that I was wishing to stay in as many family members were staying there also, for a family get-together, and Secret Escapes did turn out to have the cheapest price for the dates I wanted, saving some 40% off the official price through the hotel’s website, the MacDonald Holyrood hotel.
After booking the hotel through the Secret Escapes website, I received a confirmation email of my booking, as I would have done booking directly through the hotel’s own website. I remember that the website offered significantly lower prices for most of the room types for the hotel, and the options were vast.
The website Secret Escapes makes its commission by having a large number of members, who book the hotels through them as an agent. It offers commission to its members when they refer their friends to the website and they make a booking, and it occasionally offers join-up bonuses as well. The website has features in magazine articles and also an article in the Guardian on saving money on hotel bookings. There are also some cashback deals to be had from booking with them.
As with anything, you should search around other websites – hotels.com and one or two other hotels comparison websites, as well as checking with the hotel directly, to see if you can get a cheaper price. It’s unlikely that Secret Escapes is going to come out the cheapest for every single hotel stay on every single date, but overall it does offer some good money savings.