Last week I received the amazing news that I was a finalist for Savoo’s Smartest Shopper 2014 and I was (and still am) over the moon. The finals were held in London last weekend so I needed to book a hotel to stay in on the Friday night. Even though the price of one night was kindly covered by Savoo, I was still determined to get a good deal. Dave and I haven’t had a break together this year so we decided to take the opportunity to do a bit of sightseeing and spend the whole weekend there.
Visiting London is a daunting prospect for scrimpers and savers like us because everything down there is so expensive compared to ‘ere up North. So, like any thrifty thinker, I set about looking for a good deal on the internet. I knew it was the weekend of Remembrance Sunday and the ceramic poppies at the Tower of London were attracting many visitors to London, so the prices were going to be higher than other weekends.
I headed straight to Lastminute.com thinking that there should be some good offers on since I needed a place to stay in just 3 days’ time. The map functionality allows you to look in the area you want to stay and find hotels within your budget, which is very handy.
I saw a notice saying ‘Our Top Secret hotels are so confidential that, unfortunately, they can’t be displayed on the map’. I was intrigued. What were these Top Secret Hotels?
Well, Top Secret Hotels are hotels that have up to 35% off the normal price – fantastic news! However, the name of the hotel isn’t provided and neither is the exact location. Instead, a description and a ‘zone’ on a map in which the hotel is situated within, are provided. No biggie though – read on…
I sorted the list by price – cheapest first of course. It was then a case of clicking on each one to see where the hotel was located. I wanted somewhere near to Westminster so I didn’t have far to travel the next morning. I found one which was in the right area, near the Tower of London and at a great price too (compared to the others). It was £252.00 for two nights, two people, compared to the original price of £297.60. It was described as a 5* (!) hotel and had a spa which guests could use. I got that rush of adrenaline that ‘thrifties’ describe when they find a ‘too-good-to-be-true-but-it’s-actually-true deal.
My big secret about Top Secret Hotels is sussing out which hotel it is. It’s also the most exciting part. Just enter some of the keywords used in the description into Google and scan the results to see if there is a close match. I did this for a few hotels and it worked each time! For my favourite choice, I found the answer on the MSE forum (see screenshot) then went direct to The Grange Hotel website to check it out. After checking out the location and facilities I knew I had found ‘the one’. I got butterflies in my stomach and I knew I had to have him… I mean, it.
Now, I am a bit of a sceptic so I needed to do some background checking before I fully committed. Was the ‘deal’ just a way of drawing me in and was the room actually any cheaper because of the Top Secret Hotels offer? I did some snooping. I looked for the hotel in the normal section of the website and found it was, in fact, the higher price of £297.60 just like the offer had said. Perfect; it was genuine and honest.
When we arrived at the hotel I was even happier – it was next door to Tower Hill station and the Tower of London which was perfect for seeing the ceramic poppies. But it didn’t stop there – we got upgraded to an executive suite on arrival. How amazing is that!