There are lots of travelers who enjoy travel gambling if they can get a discount for their troubles. I’m talking about buying standby airline seats, and ones headed to any one of several destinations. Now while I’ve never actually been a fan of one of these deals, the draw of the concept of the hotel auction is a different matter. This is where they tell you about the amenities available at a hotel, how close to the city center a location is, and everything else. They neglect to reveal the actual name of the hotel they will be giving you, though. If you are flexible about trusting your luck to an establishment you are not aware of, there isn’t much of a gamble to this one; you know you’re getting a discount luxury hotel just as long as the name doesn’t matter to you.

The first rule to working with an opaque auction site is that the concept doesn’t wok for people who aren’t willing to do a bit of research for the best deal. As with any auction, you need to place a bid and keep bidding until you win. Let’s look at how the opaque system works with a review of the top sites in the business.

Priceline – The thing about a bidding war for your cut-rate discount luxury hotel on Priceline is that you’re not so much bidding against other contenders for the room you want, as putting down a price that you believe is your best offer. Priceline takes it and runs with it, trying to find the room to your specifications at your price. In short, Priceline does the bidding for you. All you do is to plug in your dates, the class of hotel you’re willing to accept, the area of a city you wish to stay in. Let’s say that you are going to travel to New York City, and you wish to stay in midtown Manhattan – that’s what you plug in into the search engine. Of course, as is customary with these searches, the price you specify doesn’t include taxes or other surcharges. Those get added to the price quoted. If at the end of the process you find that someone else has a better price, Priceline will match it.

Luxury link – This is a website that deals in the real stuff. It only goes to tell you that even for the superrich, a discount luxury hotel deal is usually too tempting to pass up on. As on Priceline, membership to this website is free, and you can often get discounts off seven star places. The best part is, they tell you the name of the place you’re staying at

SkyAuction – This site gives you the satiisfaction of a bidding war on a discount luxury hotel. Bidding is free on this site, and you get to learn the name of the hotel you’ll be bidding for. There is a minimum bid for each hotel, and since you know the name of the hotel, you don’t feel bad about what you’re paying. The only downside is that takes time. You can’t book your stay on this site until 16 days before the day arrives. And of course they charge you $20 for the service they provide.

Usually, you end up saving about 20% of the going price on a hotel room at an auction site. And that is nothing to sneeze at.