Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Express Pembroke with Priceline Tips

posted in: Blog, Canada, Hotel Reviews, Ontario | 15

Before going whitewater rafting down the Ottawa River, we knew that we would have to stay somewhere the night before. We had to be at the RiverRun Rafting site at eight o’clock in the morning, and we lived about five hours away. The only problem: RiverRun Rafting seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. Located in Forester Falls, Ontario, there really weren’t any accommodations nearby. Sure, we could have stayed at the grounds of RiverRun Rafting, but we had read some unfavourable reviews online of their cabins. The next nearest town, Renfrew, only had a couple of choices of motels that didn’t have very good reviews. I looked to the larger town of Pembroke, located about 30-40 minutes away from the rafting site and found a few more larger-chain hotels there. After reading a few reviews on Tripadvisor, I knew that the Holiday Inn Express Pembroke was the one. There were nothing but positive reviews, and it looked to be a clean and quiet place to stay before our early wake-up time to go rafting.

How To Use Priceline To Your Advantage

I thought that this would be a great opportunity to try using Priceline for the first time. By using the Express Deals, we’re going to show you how to book exactly the hotel you want while never paying full price again! For the sake of this blog post, I did a mock search for the same city and hotels that were available at the time that we originally booked. Though the prices may be different from our booking, the concept remains the same. So, we were headed to Pembroke, Ontario and we selected one room for September 26, 2014 to September 27, 2014. Here are the hotels available to book under their main heading, “List View”: Here are the hotels in Pembroke that are available for the evening under the main “List View” tab. This is the full price listed on Priceline that you can purchase right away with no worries at all. There are cancellation options with this selection, but we knew that we wouldn’t be cancelling the hotel as we were going rafting regardless of the weather. As you can see, there aren’t many hotels in Pembroke. We definitely can use this to our advantage. The Holiday Inn Express Pembroke is a 2 1/2 star hotel with several amenities – free parking, pet friendly, non-smoking, free Internet, free breakfast, an indoor pool, among others. We could have very easily gone ahead and booked the hotel for the list price of $137/night. The other option would be to search the “Express Deals” where you cannot view the name of the hotel and you won’t find out which hotel you’ve purchased until after you’ve paid. Here’s where it gets interesting. We were able to figure out which unnamed hotel was actually the Holiday Inn Express Pembroke and book it for a much less expensive rate using the Express Deals. Here is the list of hotels using the Express Deals tab on the site: First of all, you can see the star listings for all of the hotels. There is a 1-star hotel, a 2-star hotel, a 3-star hotel, and a 2 1/2 star hotel. The Holiday Inn Express Pembroke is 2 1/2 stars. The hotel with 2 1/2 stars is also guaranteed to have an indoor or outdoor pool, free parking, free internet, free breakfast, it is pet-friendly, etc. Sound familiar? The guest rating of 9+ also matches the List View rating for the Holiday Inn Express Pembroke. You can also see where the hotels are located on a map in both listings: List View for Holiday Inn Express Pembroke: Express Deal for Unnamed 2/12 Star Hotel: Even though the Express Deal map view is a little more zoomed out, you can see that the hotel falls into the same area on both maps. In this case, by booking the hotel under the Express Deals, you would save $24. In our specific booking back in August, we saved closer to $40 on our hotel by booking using the Express Deals. And guess what? The hotel we booked ended up being the Holiday Inn Express Pembroke! It wasn’t too surprising as it really couldn’t have been any other hotel. By doing a little bit of investigating, you should never have to pay full price for a chain hotel again!

Our Review

While we didn’t end up spending very much time at the hotel, we did have a very comfortable overnight stay. The room itself was very clean and cozy. Even though we couldn’t sleep in very much, we did enjoy a great night’s rest before a vigorous day of river rafting. The pillows were really comfortable. The room came with a small coffee maker with typical hotel packaged coffee that we didn’t end up using. We were happy that the room had a mini-fridge to store our bottles of water. There was also a microwave. We didn’t watch any television, though there was a nice flatscreen TV with many channels if you felt like staying in and watching TV in bed at night. There was a desk if you needed to work, and the hotel had free wifi! The view out the window was nothing exceptional as we were right by the highway on the outskirts of town. There were plenty of cornfields and farm lands that stretched as far as I could see. The window would have let in lots of bright sunshine had it not been raining out all day. The curtains kept the room incredibly dark at night. The bathroom was large and very clean. That’s something that I like about staying at hotels – the bathrooms are often way larger than the one we have at home in our apartment! The bathroom had a standard bathtub and shower, along with some basic complimentary toiletries. It was exactly what you would expect from staying at a Holiday Inn Express, which was definitely not a bad thing. We used the fitness center as we’re both following a fitness program at home and we wanted to keep this going while we were out on the road. The gym at the Holiday Inn Express was small, but it had most things that you would need. There were a few cardio machines, including treadmills, elliptical machines and bicycles. There was also a rack full of lighter weights for weight training. We would have liked to have seen some slightly heavier weights as there weren’t ones any heavier than 10 pound dumbbells. We didn’t end up using the swimming pool, but it looked like a very nice and clean indoor pool. Breakfast the next morning was included, which was one reason we decided to choose the Holiday Inn Express. We knew that we wouldn’t have time to get any food before rafting, and we knew we’d need plenty of energy to get us through until lunchtime. While continental breakfasts don’t tend to be the best breakfast spot for vegans, we managed to enjoy some bagels with peanut butter and some fruit before heading out for the day. I love when they have bananas available as they tend to be pretty filling first thing in the morning! I would highly recommend that you stay at the Holiday Inn Express Pembroke before a whitewater rafting trip down the rapids of the Ottawa River. We had a great stay there with no major complaints. Also, the next time that you book a hotel that is available on Priceline, check and see if you can locate it in the Express Deals section and book it there to save yourself some money!

Have you ever used Priceline’s Express Deals section to your advantage? Would you ever give it a try?

15 Responses

  1. Amy
    | Reply

    This is such a great tip! One of my friends let me on to this strategy last year when we were trying to book hotels in Copenhagen. We were able to narrow down the express deal to being one of two hotels. We were happy with either one so we went ahead and booked. Our rooms ended up costing $95 per night rather than the $150 they were asking on the regular site. I need to remember to try this more often!

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      I’m glad that you got to use this strategy! You saved quite a bit of money! I know we’ll be trying this one out more often, too.

  2. Brianna
    | Reply

    I’ve used Priceline for both the Name Your Own Price and Express Deals. Another good tip is to check Better Bidding to see what previously reported hotel wins have been

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      That’s a good tip as well, thank you! I haven’t tried the bidding option but I imagine you could get some good deals that way.

  3. Brittany @ Paws for Beer
    | Reply

    Interesting tip. I’ve used this method on Hotwire and it worked the same way. I love saving on accommodations as I rarely spend much time in the room.

  4. elly stornebrink
    | Reply

    That’s really great to know! I love how you showed all the different examples of hotels posted and how you were able to figure out which hotel. By the way, did you have as much fun water rafting as you expected? ;) <3

  5. elly stornebrink
    | Reply

    That’s a great tip! I love how you are able to show the various hotels and amenities, rather figure out which one you wanted. I hope you had as much fun white water rafting as you wanted to as well! ;) <3

  6. Carmen (CarmensTravelTips)
    | Reply

    We’ve used priceline twice maybe. I’m one of these people that likes to know where we are staying ahead of time. So it’s difficult for me to wait to see what hotel they assign. The last time we used it was during a trip to San Francisco. We were able to stay in a 4 star hotel for a reasonable price.

  7. Holly
    | Reply

    great stuff. The only place I can’t figure out which hotel is which is in Vegas. Any tips for that?

  8. Great tips on Priceline. I used priceline once before to book a hotel in Miami, and it was a really great deal. We did the express deal where you couldn’t see the exact hotel, but the star rating and area. So I picked something right on Miami Beach with 3.5 or 4 stars, and it was significantly cheaper than any other hotel listings for this area online. The hotel turned out to be a small boutique hotel, with a HUGE room, separate bathroom, and kitchen area. I was so shocked and delighted with what we got for what we paid. I would definitely use price line again!

  9. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
    | Reply

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  10. Sandra @ Tripper
    | Reply

    I know what you mean about hotel bathrooms lol For me it’s all about the bathtub and going movie star style in bubble baths :D Thank you for the review and for introducing me to Priceline, I never used it. And I’m sold if they have William Shatner’s picture on the website.

  11. Mark and Kate
    | Reply

    We have never used Priceline and what a nifty little insight into the back door. Great work, we will definitely use this tip.

  12. Adelina // Pack Me To
    | Reply

    Wow, this is brilliant! I’ve never used Priceline because I really don’t like leaving it up to chance, but in this kind of scenario it makes so much sense! I wish I knew this before going through Oregon because we ended up staying in a lot of small cities. Thanks for sharing guys!

  13. Melissa
    | Reply

    I’ve never used Priceline before — what great tips! I’m going to have to try this.

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