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This article was published on March 1, 2011

Hipmunk launches hotel search based on “Ecstasy” and helpful heat maps

Hipmunk launches hotel search based on “Ecstasy” and helpful heat maps
Courtney Boyd Myers
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Courtney Boyd Myers

Courtney Boyd Myers is the founder of, a transatlantic company designed to help New York and London based technology startups gr Courtney Boyd Myers is the founder of, a transatlantic company designed to help New York and London based technology startups grow internationally. Previously, she was the Features Editor and East Coast Editor of TNW covering New York City startups and digital innovation. She loves magnets + reading on a Kindle. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter @CBM and .

This summer, MIT-grad Adam Goldstein and Reddit Co-founder Steve Huffman ignited the travel experience with their intuitive and dead simple flight search engine, Hipmunk. Last week, we interviewed Danilo Campos, Hipmunk’s “mobile dude” about its shiny new iPhone app, presenting travelers with an intuitive interface to visualize flight options based on “Agony,” which factors in price, duration, number of stops, etc.

Today, Hipmunk unveils its foray into hotel search, providing worldwide coverage with hundreds of thousands of properties. It pulls in its hotels from big sites like HotelsCombined, Orbitz and GetaRoom as well as hip, hotel alternative AirBnB. Reviews of the hotels are pulled in from Yelp. For that reason, Hipmunk’s best coverage is currently in the U.S., Canada and Western Europe.

Similar to the clever “Agony” search filter for flights, Hipmunk’s default hotel search filter is “Ecstasy,” based on a combo of quality, price and reviews. Users can choose additional filters such as Price, Amenities and Chains.

“When choosing ecstasy, we thought about the way people search for travel. If it’s a flight, they want it to get them to their destination and whether they’re flying across the world or country they aren’t usually spending more than 10 hours on a plane. But if they’re taking a business trip they could be spending 10 times that time in a hotel room; therefore people are more concerned with comfort and quality. In this sense, we thought ecstasy for hotels complimented agony for flight search.”

– Adam Goldstein, Co-Founder of Hipmunk

For available accommodations this week in New York City, I counted 10 chains with multiple results, 12 unaffiliated results and one AirBnB result, ranging from $26 to $803 per night. Goldstein says that Hipmunk offers nearly every big hotel chain. You may notice that search is a bit slower for hotels than Hipmunk’s flight search, which is primarily because there are more data sources for hotels than flights.

When Hipmunk’s flight search launched, users were taken to Orbitz to purchase tickets. Now customers can buy tickets directly from American, Delta, JetBue, AirFrance and KLM. Similarly, Hipmunk’s hotel search now sends customers to HotelsCombined, but they plan on expanding into direct hotel booking in the coming months. “We wanted to get our hotel search product out there so the big hotel chains and brands could see us first, then we’d go to them with the business case,” explains Goldstein.

One of the coolest new features in Hipmunk’s innovative hotel search is is Heat Maps, which show users areas of a city based on Vice, Nightlife, Shopping, Tourism and Food. For this information, Hipmunk pulls in tourist information collected from public services like Wikipedia and SimpleGeo in the Bay Area.

Below is the nightlife heat map for New York City.

So, why did Hipmunk move into hotels so soon?

It’s something that people have been asking for. Firstly, we felt like the outstanding bugs were fixed on flights and we had secured direct airline deals. We felt we’d be able to bring more people to the site with a complete experience since most people, especially business travelers are looking for both hotels and flights. -Adam Goldstein

For flight search, Hipmunk started out with one ways and round trips, then added multi city trips. With hotels, they started with vacation rentals and will overtime show airport context and overlay intelligent, helpful information like transportation options from the airport to the hotel. Goldstein hopes that in the future, they will be able to get rid of the friction all together.

“What makes me most excited about hotel search is that we are entirely consumer focused. We’re not afraid to step on anyone’s toes. We’re willing to show you where in a city is boring. That means half of the hotels are going to lose out on business as a result. Meanwhile a lot of the other sites might be as opaque as possible because they have deals set up with the hotels. We’re not doing that, which is a huge benefit for the consumers. We’re not accepting payment for placements on our site, which is one of the most egregious acts that other sites do. We think this will make Hipmunk that much more of a friendly destination.”

-Adam Goldstein