Stayful is a travel app that finds hotels in a number of cities across North America based on exactly what you're looking for, then gets you the best price possible. Browse photos of the hotels, view a list of amenities and reasons why you might like your stay there, then quickly make a reservation right within the app. Customize your price range, type of hotel or stay, location and time frame all in a few taps to focus in on what you're looking for. Stayful is free for iPhone and requires iOS 8.0 or later.
Good design means looking and functioning beautifully. Fortunately, Stayful achieves both. The app design is among some of the better ones I've seen since the launch of iOS 8. Interestingly, many of the animations remind me of Android's new Material design language. It's quite charming though to say the least.
What's more important than some subtle animations is how the app works, and Stayful so nonchalantly throws away all the unnecessary complexities that often come with booking hotels. The app asks you a simple question: "What are your travel plans?" Then you fill in the blanks.
Choose from one of the supported locations: Anaheim, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Savannah, Seattle, Telluride, Toronto, Vancouver or Washington, D.C.
Next, pick your ideal hotel. Are you looking for a luxurious vacation spot? Do you prefer a low-key stay that's particularly kid-friendly? Perhaps opt for a delightful bed and breakfast. Either way, the customization options are here and abundant. While you're at it, choose between a budget, mid-priced or premium stay.
After you just put in which days you want to stay, Stayful finds all independent and boutique hotels that meet your criteria and serves up the best price possible for each. I tested this out and the claim seems to ring true; multiple competitors I tried couldn't match Stayful's prices.
Note that you may not always get hotels matching what you're searching for. Stayful only searches through independent hotels, so don't expect any Hampton Inns or anything of the sort to show up in your search results. This somewhat limits the diversity of the options, but at the same time it's arguably unreasonable searching for a "luxurious" hotel with a "budget" price.
When you do get results, the app displays gorgeous photos for each hotel plus the price per night. Tapping a hotel brings up further information like ratings on TripAdvisor, amenities, a map and cleverly organized bullet points with some benefits about staying there, jargon-free.
If you do decide to book with Stayful, bear in mind that the price initially listed does not include tax recovery charges and service fees. Still, those included, it's difficult to beat what Stayful offers.
From start to finish, finding the perfect hotel with Stayful is an easy, elegant process that makes you want to abandon any other travel service. Though it doesn't support chain hotels, it's superb for anyone looking to support local businesses or stay somewhere that's uniquely admirable on its own. Stayful could largely benefit from an iPad version of its app, which it currently lacks. Do yourself a favor and at least download Stayful free for iPhone in the App Store.