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Need a hotel? Booking on the hoof…or from the plane.

All eyes are on the US this spring as new applications for smart phones mean you don’t have to book from home. So far hotel booking apps have been restricted to booking a single night's stay in a couple of cities, reports BBC Travel, but from now on you’ll be able to book for up to five nights in eight US cities, including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC. Launched in January, the app has been downloaded a quarter of million times, indicating serious interest.

Much used giant Expedia is launching mobile hotel booking this month with Apple and Android apps, joining existing tools by Priceline, Travelocity, Kayak, and Hotels.com. They will copy HotelTonight's feature of recognizing your location and recommending suitable nearby accommodation. Another advantage is being able to book as late as 2 am for same-night arrival.

But while the upside is last minute convenience the downside is mostly price. Many major hotel chains offer price guarantees on their own sites refunding the difference if you find a better deal on another site. But this only applies to rates found on other websites, not smart phones. What’s more you may miss out on deals that offer free nights or free room upgrades, and small screen and limited browser windows makes it more difficult to shop around.

In short, you’ll still get a better deal on your favourite travel site, but smart phone users should keep their eye on initial promotional sales on mobile apps. You may be able to grab a bargain!

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