So you want to know a little secret? Almost every hotel we stay at on our travels is booked using Priceline Express Deals. When you travel as much as we do, you have to be efficient with your spending.

For those that don’t know, Express Deals are like a mystery hotel. You know a lot of the details of the hotel, it’s amenities and general location prior to booking but you don’t find out the name until after you’ve paid.

For some that might seem risky or scary, but the reward outweighs the risk. Acutally, there is almost NO risk involved in using Priceline Express Deals if you are smart about it. I have an almost foolproof way of establishing which hotel we are going to get before we book.


We regularly get 30-60% off the nightly rate for hotels using this method.


Let me show you how I do it… This is an actual booking I made today.


Using Priceline Express Deals


1. Search your location and date

I’m looking at going to Providence, Rhode Island in about two weeks time. (If you’re wondering what the bar is, read this post to see how you can use cash back rewards to save more money when using Priceline.)


Priceline Homepage, Using Priceline Express Deals


Here’s what the results look like:


Priceline Search Results, Using Priceline Express Deals


2. Open up the Express Deals in a new browser tab

Right click on the orange Express Deals section at the top of the page and open it up in a new tab on your browser. You need to be able to flick back and forth between the Express Deals search and the regular hotel search you opened in step one.


Express Deals Results, Using Priceline Express Deals


3. Identify the Express Deal you want

What Express Deal you choose to go for will depend on your price range and the number of stars you want. We usually go for 2.5 to 4 star hotels and our budget is $100/night or less. This one is a really good discount so I’m willing to stretch the budget a little as it’s in a good location and gets an 8+ rating from previous guests.

Priceline will show you the rough location of the hotel and a list of amenities that the hotel has. It will also display the review score from previous guests either 7+, 8+ or 9+. If it’s a review score of under 7 a score will not be displayed. Avoid any hotels that don’t have a review score.


Express Deals Hotel, Using Priceline Express Deals


4. Establish which hotel you’re most likely to get

Go back to the first hotel listings tab you have open in your browser and filter the search results with the location, star rating and amenities. This will help you establish the exact hotel you’ll get.

So for the listing we found in step 3, we check the star rating, amenities and location as listed below. This narrows the results down to only TWO hotels!




5. Compare prices to double check

To double check exactly what hotel I’m getting I use some simple math! Here is the formula:

Express Deal price x 100 / (100% – X% discount) = Original hotel price

So, in this case, the Express deal is $106 and we’re getting a 52% discount to reach that price:

$106 x 100 / 48% = $220

For the two hotels we’ve narrowed it down to in step 4, based on the math, it must be the Marriott Providence Downtown. Let’s check out that hotel and see if it looks good!


Hotel Info, Using Priceline Express Deals
Looks pretty good!


6. Book it!

Now you know exactly which hotel you’re going to get when you complete your express deal. Once you’ve had a look through the pictures, read the reviews and checked the exact location of the hotel you can book it with confidence!

Don’t forget that Priceline add in taxes and hotel fees. And don’t worry about purchasing trip protection from them if you already have travel insurance.


Payment, Using Priceline Express Deals


Notice you can pay for your hotel on Priceline using Paypal. Here’s a handy list of other places online you can pay for travel with Paypal.


Deal Processing, Using Priceline Express Deals


Sometimes it takes a few seconds for your deal to process. You’ll see a screen like the one above. It’s worth taking a screenshot of it to capture the Priceline request number in case something happens, your internet drops out or your computer freezes mid-booking.


Booking Confirmation, Using Priceline Express Deals


And voila! On this screen you find out exactly what you’ve booked! Just as I deduced, it’s the Marriott Providence Downtown. What a saving too!


Let me know what you think of my handy instructions for using Priceline Express Deals.


Are you willing to give it a go now that you know you can work out which hotel you’ll be staying at before you pay? If you have any further questions, let me know! I’m happy to help you get started so email me or send me a message on Facebook.


Bethaney Davies
A traveller for over ten years, Bethaney started blogging here on Flashpacker Family in early 2012. She founded the site to encourage and inspire travel and travel with small children and to share her own stories from the road.
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Showing 27 comments
  • Erin (Travel With Bender)

    You are so smart. Thank you so much for sharing this. I usually go Expedia mystery hotel, because I can add the number of people in, but I may give this a whirl.

  • Richel

    Love a great piece on how to save money! Thanks for posting!

  • Elaine J Masters

    I can’t wait to try this out on my next family vacation. Very clever. Never used Priceline before either and it looks promising. Thanks for the tips.

  • Jen

    Great tip! We typically travel long-term and tend to use Airbnb, but this could work really well for shorter stays when we’re deciding where to stay. Thanks for the great advice.

  • Lesley

    I’ve never used Priceline before but it seems super simple. Great guide.

  • Laura Lynch

    I’ve tried something similar on Priceline and it didn’t come out to be the hotel I thought it was, but it was still an acceptable place. I just get so nervous! I wish there was a back out button!

  • Reply

    Never thought about using their math against them to guess which hotel you are going to get. Does it work everytime or just most of them time. I tend to stay in hostels so I don’t really stay in hotels.

  • Vicky and Buddy

    I’ve used Priceline Express once and it came out to a really good deal. I wasn’t too concerned about which hotel I got though because I knew all the ones in the area were decent. I like your trick though and will use it for future bookings.

  • Vanessa

    Great post. We do this as well not just for express deals, but also for Name Your Own Price. The theory is exactly the same though!

  • Katie Baird

    I’ve always been wary of Priceline, but you’ve convinced me I need to try it out. Can’t wait to put these tips to good use! Thank you!

  • Vanessa

    This is GENIUS!!!

  • Marie

    Thanks for the guide. I’ll try this on my next travel. I’ve always been using Expedia. Thanks for sharing such information. Now it’s saving time 🙂

  • Karen

    Thanks for this, so helpful, have always been a bit scared of using Priceline but going to give it a go!

  • Karla

    Great info! Thanks for sharing your easy to follow tips. I played with this yesterday, and think I’ve narrowed down the hotel. One question, is there a way to get a room with 2 beds? It seems to only give results for a room for 2 adults with a king bed. Thanks!

    • Bethaney Davies

      Hi Karla! That depends on the hotel. Sometimes it will give you a room type choice on booking, sometimes it will just say room assigned at check in. We’ve ALWAYS been able to get a room with two queen/double beds or a king bed + sofa bed. Do you know what hotels you’re looking into? If you give me your dates, I can take a look for you.

  • Karla

    I searched- OKC, OK for May 20-21, 2016 with 3 stars. On the regular side I chose North OKC, on the Express Deals I chose Quail Springs (this is on the north side of OKC). It looks like the discount will be on Holiday Inn, but there is not options for bed choice. It just says max occupancy 2 adults. There will be 3 of us, two adults and one child. Thanks for your help!

  • scott

    This doesn’t always work – sometimes you will get a hotel that is not listed AT ALL in the normal search results. I’ve personally had this happen in San Diego and Las Vegas. There are a couple sites that list exactly which hotels are in which zone in major cities for the bidding option, but it should be the same for express deals.

  • Ashleigh

    Does it allow you to choose if you need 2 doubles vs 1 king

    • Bethaney Davies

      Sometimes it comes up with a choice of bedding configuration. Sometimes it doesn’t. We have never had an issue requesting the type of bedding configuration we’ve needed at any of these hotels. Which ones specifically were you looking at?

  • Maria Elliott

    Hi, Can you recommend how to book if you are travelling as a family of 5? Even booking 2 rooms means we may not fit. Also, I am sure I saw in one of your posts some time ago some recommendations for family hotels in London but now I can’t find it – can you please point me in the right direction? Thanks so much, Maria

    • Bethaney Davies

      Hi Maria! How old are your kids? Once you get to five it does become a bit of a problem to stay in hotel rooms actually as a lot of places have fire code requirements that say no more than 4 people are allowed in hotel rooms. You’d definitely be fine booking two rooms in hotels if you budget can afford it. Where are you travelling? In the US it’s very common to have hotel rooms with two queen sized beds so it’s not a problem. Have you looked at Airbnb? It’s probably your best bet for travelling with three kids. Unless your youngest is really little and can do with a portacot or toddler travel bed then you’ll probably want to avoid hotels and stick to Airbnbs.

  • Maria elliott

    Thanks! Yeah they are too old to squeeze into a double bed so will look at airbnb. Yay for the internet 🙂

  • Brenda

    Scott’s post above is correct. This doesn’t always work – sometimes you will get a hotel that is not listed AT ALL in the normal search results. I had this happen in Ontario, California a week ago. In fact, I stumbled upon this site in my search to see if others have had the “Hotel is not listed AT ALL” problem. Thank you for taking the time to document your process and share it. I’ve used similar tricks to what you have listed above for many years and have gotten AMAZING deals for beautiful rooms. This time I got burned and the place Priceline stuck us in (Folk Inn) turned out to be a real dump. As soon as I saw the hotel name I ran it through Google and the reviews helped prepare us for what was to come. Thankfully we only needed the room to sleep and shower. Again, thanks for putting this together.

    • Bethaney Davies

      Oh that is interesting to know Brenda. I have never been burned by Priceline in all my years of doing this but I guess it’s a risk I’m willing to take to get those amazing deals. We have, on one occasion, gotten Priceline to refund our money when we did not have a good experience at a hotel. We complained about the room so many times to the hotel, switched rooms etc but it was all awful and eventually the hotel just said that they’d contact Priceline and ask them to process a refund… and they did!!!! (It was a casino hotel that promised smoke free rooms and basically every room we got reeked of smoke which was not acceptable when travelling with a young baby and being asthmatic!)

  • Bryce Cupp

    Worked perfectly for me. $61 price x .32 (percentage I’d pay for 68% off) = $190.65. The hotel matched the Courtyard by Marriott listing of $189. I made the call and bought it and Low and Behold… I nailed it! Definitely going to try this again! $166 savings per night after taxes factored in!

    Thank you!

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