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Whilst priceline does allow you to make flight bookings and normal hotel reservations, I only use it for the "Name Your Own Price" functionality.
The way it works is that you pick a city, an area in that city and a star rating. You then offer a price that you would like to pay for a hotel that matches the description. You have no idea of which hotels are available, so this kind of setup isn't for everyone!
If your offer is accepted, you get the hotel details, if it's not then you are given the option to change something, like add another area of the city or a lower star rating, then offer again. If you don't want to change anything then you will need to wait 24 hours to start again, understandable as otherwise we'd all work out the best price rather quickly starting from £1 and increasing the offer.
Priceline works by taking excess inventory from hotels that they have negotiated with, it's not every hotel in every city, sometimes they only have a few hotels and many cities are not covered at all. A price is agreed between the hotel and priceline and if you offer above what priceline will accept you pay the price you offered, so be careful not to offer too much!
The hotel rooms are always for two people (although 1 staying is fine) and whilst non-smoking is not guaranteed (I HATE staying in a smoking room) you can always contact the hotel directly yourself after you have an offer accepted.
It may sound a bit tricky, but there are some helpful guides on www.betterbidding.com and http://biddingfortravel.yuku.com These sites are aimed at those that use priceline in the US, but I believe that they use the same hotels and prices, just converted to USD. These sites will give you an idea of the hotels that people have been getting and also the prices that have been paid (just convert to GBP for your needs).
Bear in mind that the price you offer does not include some charges and taxes, these are shown on the page after the offer where you get to confirm the details. All priceline bookings are non-refundable, I've only not turned up for one booking but the cost of it was a lot less than I'd saved over the previous months!!
In recent months there have been some sign-up and sign-in issues for UK users, contact customer services and they'll send you a link that won't annoyingly send you off to the US site!
In conclusion, priceline is a great way to save money for me, but don't use it if there is somewhere specific that you want to stay. Also be sure to check normal hotel prices via other sites so you know you are saving money. You won't always get a room via the site, but it's a good saving if you do it right. The star ratings are very honest, so don't worry about asking for 5* and getting somewhere very unpleasant!