Hipmunk: Finding "ecstasy" in affordable lodging

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Screenshot of Hipmunk Hotels

Last fall, Budget Travel's Valerie Rains praised an airline-ticket search site called Hipmunk. It's like Kayak, only it presents streamlined fare results with a wink.

This meta search engine sorts tickets by something called an Agony Index. It ranks flights by a mix of price, duration, and number of layovers. For instance, redeye flights score poorly.

Having innovated with fare search, the site has since debuted a tool to find a perfect room: hipmunk.com/hotels.

It has three key perks:

• All the major hotel chains are included in search results. But the site also covers rentals in people's homes and in bed-and-breakfasts via Airbnb. (That's a site we've blogged about before.)

• Hotels are color-coded by their rates. See which neighborhoods have the best deals.

• The site plots the location of the accommodations on a Google map. But there's a twist: It has a "heat map" for cool restaurants and hangouts. Lots of green dots mean there are lots of fun things to do nearby.

• Sort properties by "ecstasy," a mix of rate, amenities, and Yelp rating.

Booking is handled by Orbitz or AirBnB

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