Monday, November 7, 2011

Can You Pay for a Hotel Room in Bitcoin?

Hotel Chatter: For a brief moment this year, the Howard Johnson in Fullerton, Calif., near Disneyland, was taking an unusual form of currency--bitcoin.

Bitcoin is an electronic currency that's only accepted in the digital world. It's not recognized by any government, it's entirely unregulated and the only ways to get your hands on bitcoin is to either buy it with real cash or spend days "mining" for it on the internet. For more on how it works, you can (try to) read the bitcoin entry on Wikipedia.

Yet, Jefferson Kim, the owner and manager of both the Howard Johnson and the Red Roof Inn in Buena Park was eager to use bitcoin for hotel reservations saying that he would "personally like to see the BTC succeed." On the hotel's website, he detailed how to pay for a room with bitcoin.

One person who took him up on this? Wired contributing editor, Joshua Davis, who wrote about bitcoin for a piece in the New Yorker (the October 10th issue.) Davis booked a room at the hotel online for 10.305 bitcoins.

Kim explained that he had started mining bitcoins two months earlier. He liked that the currency was governed by a set of logical rules, rather than the mysterious machinations of the Federal Reserve. A dollar today, he pointed out, buys you what a nickel bought a century ago, largely because so much money has been printed. And he asked, why trust a currency backed by a government that is fourteen trillion dollars in debt.

So cool. And the Howard Johnson would have been at the top of our Geek Hotels list. However, we followed up with Kim last week and he told us the hotel is no longer accepting Bitcoin.

I haven’t received much other attention from normal customers and since the market essentially crashed it’s just not worth my time. Thanks for the interest!

Indeed, a single bitcoin over the summer was worth more than $29. Now, it's about $3. So it's unlikely many hotels will be jumping on the bitcoin bandwagon. But for you non-normal people still looking to spend your bitcoin, there's always The Silk Road.


Anonymous said...

Why would a hotel be more or less likely to accept bitcoin at an exchange rate of $3 versus an exchange rate of $29?

A merchant that accepts bitcoin can convert those bitcoins into USDs or other currency to lock in the exchange rate and not be subject to exchange rate risk.

Sad though that there wasn't more interest by consumers.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous on nov 7 2011 6:27pm

My guess is that it takes a whole month and a half to explain to a customer what Bitcoin is its just not profitable to hire a team to just explain a currency.

Support the Cheaper In Bitcoins project, they are trying to make every effort to getting Bitcoins name out there and describing in such a way that any layman can understand.


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