Farecast, the start-up that helps travellers predict the best time to buy flight tickets, has turned its attention to the often-confusing world of hotel rates.

The company has launched a beta service that allows consumers to search the web for hotel rooms and guesstimate whether the prices being offered are a good deal.

It makes its predictions by comparing rates with historical prices for the same dates and days of the week, and plots them on a Microsoft Virtual Earth map with colour-coded flags.

The company, which launched last year, said the launch was “an important next step in the evolution of Farecast to bring transparency and help consumers buy with confidence in another critical category of travel”.

An independent consulting firm recently found Farecast’s results to be 74.5% accurate. In February, it launched a paid-for service allowing customers to ‘lock’ ticket prices for a week and protect themselves in case prices rise.

Farecast said the new service would only initially analyse hotel prices in 30 US cities, although its search tool will have international coverage. There’s no way to check how extensive that coverage is – its site is down at the moment.