Top U.S. Cities for Bidding on Priceline Hotels
Choosing the right hotel zone can make the difference between a cheerful, convenient trip and one where you're stuck slogging to and from some distant hotel.
Four times a year, Priceline announces its most popular hotel zones. The following rundown combines those lists with information from BiddingForTravel.com and Frommer's Travel Guides. Bid these zones with confidence!
Beantown is compact, but Priceline's zones sprawl out into the suburbs. Your best bets are the Back Bay-Copley zone and the Downtown Boston-Charlestown zone:
- Back Bay-Copley: Shop 'til you drop in Boston's most fashionable hotel zone. Most of the hotels here cluster around Copley Place near Newbury Street, Boston's top street for shopping. Back Bay is a safe, central, upscale area great for strolling.
- Downtown Boston-Charlestown: Some parts of Boston's most central zone are less charming and a bit less safe than Back Bay, but you can't beat the location. No matter where you end up in this zone, you're practically on top of at least one major Boston attraction.
The World Trade Center and Cambridge zones also provide easy access to Boston attractions by public transportation. Avoid the Boston area's other zones unless you know where you're going — they can be pretty far-flung.
Priceliners find favorable winds in this city, where a knot of convenient zones surrounds downtown. The following three zones are your best bets:
- North Michigan Ave.: This zone actually sprawls more than half a mile on either side of Michigan Avenue, Chicago's top shopping street. It's Priceline's most popular Chicago zone, because it surrounds the city's best shopping and entertainment district. Chicago's flashiest, fanciest hotels are all here.
- River North Area: An itty-bitty, teeny-tiny zone north of downtown, River North should by all rights be part of the North Michigan Ave. zone. River North is a prime location, packed with top-notch shopping, eating, and entertainment, all within walking distance from the rest of central Chicago.
- The Loop-Grant Park: Chicago's central downtown zone is actually less desirable than the zones north of it, because many Chicagoans avoid this area at night and on the weekends. It's not unsafe — just deserted. Still, you're right by the Sears Tower and the Art Institute, and a quick bus or elevated-train ride from all the attractions of River North and North Michigan Avenue.
You can also try the Lincoln Park zone for a comfortable residential area with good public-transit connections to downtown.
Bidding for Las Vegas hotels on Priceline can be tough. Vegas hotels generally don't release many rooms to Priceline, and you can often find better rates through other discounters.
If you bid on the Las Vegas Strip Vicinity zone, your hotel could be up to half a mile east of the Strip!
If you won't have your own car, bid for 5-star hotels only. All of Vegas's 5-star hotels are top Strip joints like the Bellagio and the Venetian, so you're guaranteed to get a prime seat in the middle of the action.
Chock full of Art Deco buildings, pastel colors, beautiful beaches, top restaurants, and supermodels, South Beach is the place to be in Miami. Priceline has a strong stock of South Beach hotels.
Priceline's one vice in Miami: The South Beach zone includes areas about ten blocks north of what's normally considered South Beach. Your hotel may be a little ways from the heart of the action, but you'll still be only a quick bus or cab ride away from all the hoppin' happenings.
In New Orleans, the French Quarter zone actually delivers as advertised. Bid here, and you'll get a hotel in New Orleans's historic French Quarter, home to the longest-running continuous party in American history — about 300 years and counting.
If you're comfortable with a little urban adventure, expand your chances by including the Central Business District, Convention Center, and Garden District zones. The Central Business District and Convention Center zones include top-notch hotels right across the street from the French Quarter, but safety is a concern, because both may drop you half a mile away from the French Quarter in New Orleans's somewhat dodgy modern downtown. The Garden District zone includes the genteel and beautiful Garden District, a ten-minute trolley ride from the French Quarter.
New York City
It's hard to go wrong in the Big Apple with Priceline. Just try not to underbid — this is the nation's most expensive hotel town, and even 3-star hotels usually go for $90 or more. New York's zones are tightly packed, and all are close to attractions, so you really can't go wrong, but start with the following zones:
- Midtown West: Jam-packed with hotels and attractions, New York's most touristy zone surrounds Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and the theater district.
- Upper Midtown-Central Park South: This narrow zone right by Central Park and next to both of the Midtown zones boasts some of New York's most posh hotels.
- Upper West Side: A quieter, more "local" and family-oriented residential area than Midtown, the Upper West Side often delivers hotels for cheaper prices than the Midtown zones.
- Midtown East: Consider bidding the three preceding zones before bidding this very central zone, near Grand Central Station. Midtown East is a business area, within walking distance of Times Square — but it's quite a bit quieter than Times Square.
Just across the river from Manhattan, in Jersey City, hotel rates drop by 60 percent. Subways, trolleys and ferries link Jersey City, New Jersey, with Manhattan, making this otherwise depressing town a haven for bargain-hunters enjoying the lights and sights of the big city.
The difference between the two Waikiki zones — Waikiki North and Waikiki South — is pretty subtle:
- Waikiki North: Waikiki's flashiest resorts and classiest hotels are in this zone, which includes the Ewa Waikiki neighborhood and part of Mid-Waikiki. The Hilton Hawaiian Village, Hawaii Prince Hotel, Outrigger Reef, and Sheraton Waikiki all serve up deluxe beach vacations, and lower-class hotels will still land you in the midst of the buzz.
- Waikiki South: Hotels in the Diamond Head area of Waikiki and in part of Mid-Waikiki fit into this zone; you'll also find kid-friendly Kuhio Beach here. Many of the hotels in this zone are a bit older than the resorts in Waikiki North, but they're still proud and luxurious. For instance, Resort-level bidders may get the classic Sheraton Moana Surfrider.
If you're not too picky, just bid both, and you'll double your chances of success!
Only Resort-level hotels guarantee beach access.
When you're bidding on the Disney World Vicinity zone in Orlando, keep an eye on that word Vicinity. Although the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin participate in Priceline as Resort-level hotels and you can nab a slew of Downtown Disney hotels in this zone, you may also get a hotel that is close to Disney but not in the park. Hotels here range from 1-star motels all the way up to gorgeous resorts with private lakes and nature trails.
The City by the Bay puts on its best face in the downtown zone of Union Square East-Embarcadero, which lands you amongst top-notch dining, classy shopping, and the famous cable cars.
Although the Union Square West zone also has many classy hotels, you have a slight risk of being stuck on a less savory block. The Fisherman's Wharf zone is fine if you like a purely touristy atmosphere. Avoid the Civic Center Area zone, which is seedy.
If you're looking for the traditional D.C. tourist experience, the White House-Downtown and Convention Ctr-Capitol Hill Area zones land you smack in the middle of it, amongst Washington's monuments and historic sites.
If you prefer to focus on Washington's restaurants and nightlife, the Georgetown-Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle-Woodley Park zones are in D.C.'s trendiest residential areas.
For bargain hunters, the otherwise utterly dull Crystal City zone offers very cheap hotels and a quick subway connection to downtown D.C.