Almost every city in USA has something special to offer during the holidays. In Philadelphia, we have the Christmas village featuring vendors offering authentic European food, crafts and ornaments. A special mention to mulled wine which is one of our favorite.
As a family, we plan a trip every year to the Christmas village and the surrounding Dibert park and City Hall. This time however my 6 year old was asking (borderline begging) to have an overnight stay in a hotel in the city. This is the same 6 year old who for her birthday wanted to stay at a hotel in NYC. In any case before committing to her, I wanted to check the prices.
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Coincidentally, a few days ago, one of my colleagues had mentioned about a great last minute deal he got from Hotwire.com. I was intrigued by it and so decided to try my luck.
On visiting hotwire.com, I was presented with a very simple interface. On the search option I put in the city (or area), dates and number of people & rooms. Clicking on “Find a hotel” is when the interesting part begins. To the left is a list of hotels with their star rating, popularity and the nightly rate. At this point, I am not told which hotel or chain it would be. All I know at this time, is the general vicinity which is shown in the map on the right side. Pay attention to “Hot Rate” as this is the option that would give the most value.
A quick word of caution, the nightly rate shown does not include any taxes. Expect to see up to 20% increase with the taxes included.
Clicking on the hotel provides some further details of the hotel and room. Clicking on “Book now” I was prompted to make payment. and only on successful payment processing, the name of the hotel was revealed.
In our case, we had picked a three star hotel option and we got the 4 Points at Sheraton in Center City. We paid $81.00 through hotwire while the same hotel room was 145.00 on Hotels.com. That was approximately 40% in savings.
In this instance, it worked to our benefit but there is no guarantee it will work all the time. Here is a link to an interesting article where the author does a good comparison.
The next item I needed to check was parking since we were planning to drive into the city. As one can imagine parking is not cheap in the city and especially when it is overnight. This is where Parking Panda comes to the rescue. Parking Panda is a service using which you could find parking garages and lots in a certain area. The advantage with this service being, you can find the prices at different garages in the vicinity and will be able to pick the most cost effective and convenient option. A second advantage is that you can pre-pay through this service thus guaranteeing you a parking spot when you arrive.
For our Philadelphia trip, we found a garage approximately 2 blocks from the hotel for $28 for 24 hours. We drove into the city, parked our car at the garage, walked to the hotel, checked in and walked to City Hall. We got back to the hotel around 9PM and had a good night sleep. Next day morning, we checked out of the room around 9AM and drove back home.
In all here is a breakdown of our overnight trip to Philly
4 Star Hotel Room – $81.00
Parking – $28.00
Dinner at Christmas Village – $23.00
Bringing a grand total to – $132.00
With all this said, $132.00 was a very small price to pay to see the smile on my 8 year old’s face. That is priceless!!