Travelers love websites like Priceline, Hotwire, and Last Minute Travel because they have incredible deals.
The downside: They often won't tell you where you're staying until you pay for the room.
But there is a way to learn the identity of that secret hotel before you book it.
The website Walletpop.com showed how you may be able to ID that secret hotel on at least one travel bidding website: Last Minute Travel, also known as LMT.
It's all thanks to Google.
How to be a Sleuth
Say you want a 4 star hotel in the downtown Disney section of Orlando.
Last Minute Travel will give you a map of the area where that hotel is located.
But switch to Google Earth or Bird's Eye View and in many cases you can find the actual hotel. In this case, the only hotel in the Bird's Eye photo is the Hyatt at Lake Buena Vista.
That's a $160 hotel for just $86 a night. Thanks, Google.
It's harder on Priceline, because that site doesn't let you flip quickly to Bird's Eye View of the area, but it's still doable.
A little searching on Google will let you know that there are not many 4 star hotels within a block of Water Tower Place on Chicago's Michigan Avenue. By taking a few minutes, you can usually figure out what hotel Priceline is putting you in.
Doesn't That Stink?
But from the "doesn't that stink" file... these hotel sites don't want you to know where you are staying until after you give a credit card. Doesn't that stink?
It would be nice if you could withdraw your bid if you found out the hotel was on a bad street, but in most cases you can't.
Why such secrecy? Don't blame Priceline or sites like it, but rather the hotels themselves. The hotels don't want you knowing their name in advance.
That would force the hotels to match those super low Internet prices.
So you have to be your own detective so you don't waste your money.
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)
Sign up for the free DWYM Newsletter delivered twice-weekly to your inbox