New travel search adds ecstasy to hotel bookings

Hipmunk, the flight search site which has made waves in the travel world, launched a new hotel search service March 1.

The Silicon Valley startup's co-founder Adam Goldstein said that the new hotel search site was designed to find users "a good deal in a good location," using a map-based interface rather than lists of properties.

This makes the new Hipmunk site a fairly unique experience - properties are displayed on a map by default (on most sites it's merely an option), color-coded by price.

Where multiple hotels are in the same area, they are grouped together until the map is zoomed, allowing users to click on the groups to get prices for individual properties in that area from different websites such as Expedia, Orbitz and Booking.com.

All the properties are ranked by what Hipmunk calls "ecstasy", a combination of price, amenities and reviews aggregated from Yelp, although hotels can be sorted by price or just reviews if that's what users are after.

One of the other stand-out features is the integration of listings from AirBnB.com, a widely-praised service which allows private tenants to let out rooms to guests who register on the site, often at prices far lower than a hotel.

Users can also activate colored map overlays to show the density of local attractions such as shopping, food and nightlife, although the results weren't entirely what we expected when we tried our hometown of Paris.

Hipmunk has received widespread coverage as one of the most "disruptive" companies in the travel technology sphere, last month launching its first iPhone app to allow users to perform its famous flight search (where flights are rated by "agony") on the go.

This week hotel booking site Trivago also officially launched its new iPad app, bringing prices and booking information for over 500,000 hotels and 50 booking partners to the darling of the technology world.

The app, which is available in English, German, Spanish, French and Italian, shows live prices and availability for nearby properties, filters such as star category and ratings and can display additional information such as breakfast and cancellation policies for individual properties.

http://www.hipmunk.com

http://www.trivago.co.uk

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