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A new way to book a boutique hotel for less

Stay at the Gansevoort Park Avenue for less.

Magda Biernat

Love the idea of blind bidding for hotel stays, but less enthused about the soulless, corporate rooms you're typically rewarded with? Stayful, a booking website launched Wednesday, promises boutique hotels at the same sort of discounts – minus the guessing game.

Users of Stayful are able to search hotels that have empty rooms, starting from 30 days from the proposed booking date. Potential customers see the name of the hotel, location, amenities, etc. After making a selection, the traveller puts in a bid below the regular rate. The property can then accept the bid, make a counter offer or simply decline it. If lots of inventory is available, markdowns of up to 50 per cent are possible. The roster currently includes properties in two cities: San Francisco and New York. Participating hotels include the Standard High Line and the Gansevoort Park Avenue in Manhattan, and the Hotel Zetta and Villa Florence in San Fran. The goal is to be in operating in 15 markets by the end of the year.

Stayful joins the growing ranks of apps and sites that deliver savings on chic stays. The Hotel Tonight app organizes its offerings into categories such as "hip" and "luxe": On Thursday, the Thompson Toronto was available for $219, as opposed to the $269 listed elsewhere. The catch: Rooms only become available at noon the day of booking. Another example is, a mix of blind offers (a four-star Vancouver "mystery hotel" was going for $170) and significant savings at published hotels.

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Stayful is in private beta phase, which means users must request an invitation; it is expected to be widely available in a few months.

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