I recently booked several hotels through Hotwire for our family's spring break trip. I had used Hotwire once several years ago and felt I got a great deal, but this time the results were disappointing. Hotwire tacks on such high fees that you end up paying a lot more than you think. What's worse, even though they have the "double the difference" guarantee if you find a cheaper rate for the same stay, their high fees make it so that you STILL lose out! I did find a cheaper rate on one hotel's own website ($4 cheaper) and a MUCH cheaper rate for people over 55 or over (which I am), but of course Hotwire wouldn't recognize that rate since it was not available to the general public. So I got my $8 back from Hotwire, but still lost more than $20 over what I would have paid if I had paid the over 55 rate on the hotel's site and avoided the Hotwire fee.
Like other people, I noticed Hotwire seems to be fudging on the star ratings.
Another thing I have grave doubts about is that a clerk in one of the hotels accidentally gave me a printout of Hotwire's statement when I checked out. I had paid Hotwire a rate of $45 for that hotel, plus taxes/fees. The statement showed that Hotwire was paying the hotel only $33.
I thought Hotwire was supposed to be making its profit on the high fees it tacks on to the rate, but based on this it looks like they are double-dipping: inflating the rate and then adding fees on top of it. I sent an e-mail to Hotwire questioning this practice, after I got home. But all I got was a standard form e-mail in reply saying how they seek to provide us the best rates available.
The whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If I can find lower rates AND choose exactly the hotel I'm going to stay at, AND in the process avoid Hotwire's questionable policies--I'm pretty sure from now on I'll just forget about Hotwire and book my hotels directly.