The new Tablet Hotels app for iOS is ideal for travelers who don't want to wade through hundreds of hotel choices. However, its premium version is pricey, despite a year-long trial option, and the app isn't aimed at deal hunters.
If you’re a traveler who is easily overwhelmed by seemingly-endless hotel choices, and you have a flexible budget, Tablet Hotels is the app for you.
Unlike most hotel apps and online booking services, the new, iOS-only Tablet Hotels app doesn’t show you dozens, or even hundreds, of hotels at your desired destinations. Instead, the software delivers a highly curated selection of boutique accommodations, with ratings and user reviews based on “verified stays by Tablet guests,” according to the app’s developer.
For a hypothetical stay in San Francisco in mid-August, Tablet served up 13 hotels, though two of them were across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito. The rates started at $230 on average per night (for an inn in Japantown) and topped out at $485 and up (for a hotel on the Embarcadero).
In comparison, the popular Booking.com app showed me more than 200 properties for the same mid-August dates, with rates ranging from low-rent ($71 per night) to high-end ($1,359.25).
Tablet’s hotel listings include photos and brief editorial overviews of the properties, along with “need to know” basics, visual guides to amenities, and breakdowns of the available room types. To quickly book a room type (such as “Historic Queen”), you simply tap the “+” sign. (It’s worth noting that some hotels’ lowest rates are non-refundable.)
All of these features are also available on Tablet’s website, which is as attractive and visually compelling as the mobile app.
The Tablet Hotels app is sleek, responsive, easy to use, and helpful — especially for people who don’t want to slog through hundreds of choices. However, it’s certainly not the only such app that aims to deliver the best hotel deals.
$100 Tablet Plus membership gets you …
If you opt to pay the pricey $99-a-year Tablet Plus membership fee, you get a number of perks. For example, Tablet Plus subscribers get late check-out options, free daily breakfasts, and other goodies, where available and depending upon the hotel. And the first year of membership is free when you book a stay using the app.
I’m not sure I’d pay $99 a year for these privileges, but I don’t stay in hotels very often. If you do, and perks from a curated selection of hotels are appealing, Tablet Plus is worth a try, for that first free year alone. Otherwise, check out Booking.com, or some other hotel booking services, such as Stayful, TripAdvisor, Hotels.com and Hotel Tonight (for last-minute reservations).
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.