|by Sean O'Neill||San Francisco, Hotels, Innovations, Online Travel Agencies||1|
A new booking website for hotels, Simplehoney, promises to show you only properties that match your tastes, based on your answers to a few questions.
During its trial period, Simplehoney only covers hotels in Hawaii and San Francisco. Yet when it fully launches this summer, the site promises to broader range of destinations, such as Vancouver and coastal Nicaragua.
The test drive: Signing up took me about a minute. I had to answer questions about what I like in a hotel, such as "what is your style?" (boutique & unique, modern, traditional, or rustic and quaint?), "what kind of trip do you want to go on?" (beach, city, mountain, or country?), and "what star-class of hotel do you usually book?"
In response to the last question, I said I usually book one-star hotels, based on a choice of one- through -five stars, thinking that would prompt the site to recommend budget-conscious lodgings. But I picked "boutique" as my style (given other choices, such as traditional and quaint) because I was interested in something besides generic chain hotels, which I could find on my own without needing a website's help.
Sadly, Simplehoney only recommended expensive hotels in San Francisco, including a couple belonging to the Personality Hotels mini-chain—where June rates start at $179 plus tax. For central San Francisco locations and stylishly furnished rooms, these hotels are decent options. But they're not budget options.
Users can answer additional questions to receive more fine-tuned results. I did that in an effort to manipulate the quiz answers to see if I could get bargain-priced hotels—without luck.
The verdict: If you're willing to drop about $200 a night on a stay in a major tourist destination, it could be worth your time to use Simplehoney, which would offer better recommendations the more it learned how you like to travel. But you're strictly bargain hunting, skip this site, as you'll find a broader variety of affordable hotels elsewhere.
Quick tip: Simplehoney is still in beta-testing, and during its trial period, it is waiving its fee to join. After launch this summer, it plans to charge $100 for a membership, which will give access to both the recommendation service. So consider signing up now while the site remains free to join on the chance that it could point you to amazing hotels down the line.
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