Hotel companies hiding best price on the phoneHilton gives lowest price only on request

27 February 2013


When you book a hotel over the phone, you might hope you'd be given the best deal. But Which? Travel research has shown Hilton has a policy of not giving the lowest price unless asked.

We called 36 UK hotels belonging to three major hotel chains, Crowne Plaza, Hilton and Marriott, to see whether we were offered the lowest price when we asked for a standard double room for one night. 

Hilton hotel prices

We found that in eight out of 12 calls to Hilton hotels, we were first offered a price for a fully flexible rate, rather than the cheaper non-refundable rate. 

The fully flexible rate does give you the option of cancelling with no penalty until close to your arrival date, but you pay extra for the privilege.

During our calls, it was only after we asked if this was the cheapest rate available that we were told about the lower non-refundable rate. 

Best hotel deals

In one call, we were told that the first, flexible, price was the best available, and only found out about the lower one after asking twice. The saving turned out to be £40, or 15%.

We also found that breakfast was automatically included in seven of the 12 calls, when cheaper room-only rates were available. We hadn't said we wanted breakfast, so didn't think it should be automatically included.

The other chains gave us the lowest price more often than Hilton - but not always. In five of the calls to Crowne Plaza we were either offered the pricier fully flexible rate or a rate including breakfast. Marriott offered us the higher price options in three out of 12 calls.

Getting the best rate

Hilton Worldwide confirmed that people booking by phone were offered the most flexible - and pricier - rate first, and lower prices were made available on request. The company said it encouraged people to book online, where all rates could be seen at the same time.

Our advice is that if you're booking a hotel over the phone, always question the rate you are offered and ask if anything cheaper is available.

More on this...