By Ken Hegan for MSN Travel

Need a hotel at the last second?

There’s a great app called HotelTonight which will save your bacon when you’re hunted and desperate. A free download for iPhone, iPad, and Android, HotelTonight finds last-minute lodging at discount rates.

Here’s how it works:

Let’s say you’re a CIA sniper on a top secret mission in a dangerous foreign city. It’s 2:30 pm, and you’ve just successfully assassinated Some Very Bad Chaps. You’ve wiped down your weapon and tossed it in the muddy river. Time to escape. No problem, right?



82% of snipers say HotelTonight is the best app for finding last-minute safe houses
Photo by Moviestore / Rex Features

Suddenly your getaway plans go horribly awry when you discover your squad members have all been killed, one by one. But you’re not under attack from foreigners…your own agency is terminating your hit team to avoid a congressional investigation. The next operative to die will be YOU.

Normally, you’d meet your CIA team leader at the nearest safe house. But you can’t trust anyone now. You can’t skip town because rogue CIA assassins will be searching for you at airports, train stations, depots, and car rental offices. You need shelter and you need it cheap and fast. Time to panic?

Fear not, my friend, because HotelTonight is here to help.

Bring up HotelTonight’s glowing bed logo, make sure it’s the afternoon (HotelTonight is a late riser that refuses to search for hotel rooms before 12 noon), and select your city. HotelTonight lists hotel rooms in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, 15 European cities, 55 U.S. cities, plus Acapulco and Mexico City.

Say you’re on the run in downtown Brussels. Punch that into HotelTonight and it’ll call up four Brussels hotels, three listed as ‘Solid’ (“a comfortable, reliable hotel with all the gotta-have-em amenities”), and one listed as ‘Basic’ (“a modest hotel with limited extras, perfect for when you need to crash for the night”). The other hotel categories are ‘Luxe’, ‘Charming’, and ‘Hip’ (“stylish, sometimes quirky…”).

You decide you don’t need many amenities. All you need is a sink to rinse off blood splatter, plus a desk to forge a new passport and a tub to sandpaper off your fingerprints (Tip: use sandpaper that’s medium or fine grit).

So you investigate a Basic room at the Floris Avenue hotel on Avenue de Stalingrad. HotelTonight vets each hotel with helpful write-ups. It notes that the Floris Avenue is conveniently located “midway between the Grand Place and Brussels Midi station” (there’s a map, too), and the hotel offers a free continental breakfast between 7 and 10 am. There’s no mini-bar but you can drink away your night terrors in “loads of pubs just a 5-10 minute stumble away.”

A nice room at the Floris costs just $89/night (U.S.) including tax and fees (normally this room costs $102/night). Not bad! Plus pets are welcome and there’s a 24-hour fitness centre to burn off your post-assassination adrenalin.

You hit ‘Book a Room’, quickly sign up via your phony Facebook account, then send them a secret credit card number that you’ve wisely saved for just such an emergency. Le voilà! The room is yours. And should you need any help with a reservation or the app in general, HotelTonight offers “24/7 real-person customer support via phone, email or in-app chat.”

For all your assassin needs, HotelTonight is a great way to get yourself off the streets fast, and give you more time to elaborately fake your death and start a new life with a new identity aboard a freighter ship bound for the sunny Philippines. Bon voyage!

For more info, visit

— Ken Hegan

Read more of Ken’s travel stories here and follow him on Twitter: @KenHegan