Priceline vs. Hotwire Hotels

This article takes a look at Priceline vs. Hotwire hotels.  Specifically, we look at how each site rates the same hotels.  Do they rate hotels the same or does one company inflate their hotel ratings?

Anyone who travels has probably stayed at a hotel that did not quite meet their expectations.  You book a hotel online based on some photos but when you get there, the hotel looks better in photos than in real life.  When people purchase hotels on Hotwire or Priceline, there is a tendency to blame Hotwire or Priceline, and therefore assume one of these companies inflates their ratings.  Anecdotally, I hear this more often about Hotwire than Priceline and I wanted to find out.  Does Hotwire or Priceline tend to be a little more generous in their ratings of hotels?  Since I capture Hotwire and Priceline winning bids on the Hotwire & Priceline Forum, I thought it would be interesting to do a comparison:  Hotwire vs. Priceline.  I wanted this to be as unbiased and non-anecdotal as possible, so I crunched some number to find out.

Methodology in Comparing Priceline vs. Hotwire Hotels

When travelers report Hotwire or Priceline winning bids, this data gets posted to the Forum, but it also gets captured in a database.  Each time a win is reported, I review it for accuracy and try my best to match it to a hotel listed on TripAdvisor.  Since I started this process, I was able to extract from my database thousands of hotels that were reported as showing up on both Priceline and Hotwire.

Results of Comparing Hotwire and Priceline Hotel Ratings (2015)

Both companies use a star-rating system.  Stars are ranked from 1 star (the worst) to 5 stars (the best).  The first thing I wanted to do was look at how many of the hotels were rated the same, how many had higher ratings on Hotwire and how many on Priceline.

  • The vast majority,  66.9%, had the same star rating on both sites
  • 27.2%% had a higher rating on Hotwire
  • 5.9% had a higher rating on Priceline

I also looked at averages for this group of hotels:

  • Hotwire’s average hotel rating was 3.85 stars
  • Priceline’s average hotel rating was 3.61 stars

The variance, in most cases was only half a star.  We often saw 3 star hotels on Priceline rated 3.5 stars on Hotwire, for example.


Most of the time, ratings are the same on Hotwire and Priceline, but it does appear that Hotwire has a slightly more generous rating system than Priceline.  After all, 1 in every 4 hotels had a higher rating on Hotwire than Priceline.  The gap between ratings is not huge — 1/2 star spread in 97% of the cases where the rating was not the same.

it is worth noting that the numbers above are based on data from users, and in all likelihood, there are errors in the data.  This is by no means intended to be a statistical research study on hotel ratings.  I simply pulled a few numbers off a crowd-sourced database, mostly to satisfy my own curiosity about Hotwire vs. Priceline’s hotel ratings.

Final analysis:  If you book a Hotwire hotel, there’s about a 1 in 4 chance the hotel rating will be inflated by half a star compared to Priceline.

Aside from hotel ratings, there are many other differences between Hotwire and Priceline.  This article looks at the differences when booking a hotel on Hotwire vs Priceline.  This article provides examples for better bidding on Priceline:  when to use Priceline and when to avoid it.