I used lastminute.com to book the 2nd leg of our accommodation in Porto, Portugal where we stayed at The Sheraton Hotel Porto. Truth be told we were under a tad bit of pressure with time for visas running out (the entire trip was a tad impromptu) and needed to make a decision quickly.
I’d come across the lastminute.com and others like it before, but I was sceptical and risk averse. On a whim I punched our dates in & several options popped up for accommodation in Porto, one of which was a “Top Secret Hotel”. And according to their site, here’s how it works:
Top Secret Hotels, a secret worth knowing…
Exclusive deals for travellers in the know. Hotels don’t want empty rooms, so offer our customers big discounts to help fill them. The deals are so good the hotels do not want to advertise them so we have to keep it a secret. Our Top Secret Satisfaction Promise makes sure you know all you need upfront apart from the hotel name which we reveal as soon as you’ve booked.
Being our 1st time using this site (or this kind of service) I was a bit nervous & deliberated for hours. It felt like a game of Russian Roulette but curiosity won & we decided to take the plunge…
- Yup, the lure of a 5 star hotel with the promise of a massive discount got me. Big time. I was intrigued.
- What helped a lot was being able to see the hotel’s overall TripAdvisor rating (four & a half star!) on the side. If it wasn’t for this we probably would not even considered taking this risk.
- The booking process itself was quick & easy – took about 3/4 minutes online.
- Just as they promised as soon as the booking was done I got a confirmation email within seconds & revealing the hotel – The Sheraton Hotel Porto.
- In the end, this didn’t work out to be the steal that the site promised. Being my frugal self, when I checked The Sheraton Hotel Porto’s booking website directly, I could have gotten the same deal for around £3 less had I booked with them. And I would have had the option to add on breakfast, Wi-Fi etc. at an additional cost (not available via lastminute.com).
- They are not setup to service customers outside of the UK and that could be outlined on the site more clearly. I had a lot of questions (before booking) & completed a call back form online (which they strongly encourage customers to use). Eventually I did get all my queries answered via email.
Need to know
- The site adds an admin fee to the total booking of just under £4 which I didn’t mind.
If I ran the brand
- A lot of what I was going to recommend be addressed, the site already has since fixed such as:
– the wi-fi is now specified as being in the hotels public areas only (not in the rooms, which I was sorely disappointed by)
– there is a map of the area on the site giving you a clearer idea of the general location of the hotel without giving away too much
Would I do it again? I don’t know. I think if I did, I may use the site (i.e. lastminute.com) to book hotels that aren’t “Top Secret Hotels” (i.e. their names are full details are shared upfront) so that I can cross check the rates and be sure that I am getting a bargain…
While £3 isn’t much, it’s really still the principle. Lastminute.com was not cheaper than going directly through the hotel. That said, we had stayed in a 5 star hotel for under R900 per night (for the room excluding breakfast) and that’s still a pretty good deal anywhere especially for Europe…
Here are some other discounted travel sites if you’re keen to give it a go:
If you’ve ever used this service or a similar one I *need* to know please!