HotelTonight releases an iPad app for same-day hotel bookings

HotelTonight has carved out a niche for itself by offering quick, easy and cheap rooms in some of the best hotels in major cities around the country — that is, as long as you’re only looking for a place to stay that night. The startup, which specializes in last-minute hotel booking, is now coming out with a gorgeous iPad(s AAPL) app that takes advantage of the tablet’s Retina display to highlight many of those properties.

HotelTonight works like this: It has heavily discounted hotel rooms in 30 cities throughout the U.S., all of which are made available starting at noon local time. Users can choose from a variety of different hotels, which span from pretty basic to pretty high-end, based on price, location and amenities. And for those who find themselves staying in a city longer than they expected, bookings can be made as late as 2:00 a.m. local time, which is a bit of an advantage when compared to other discounted hotel companies.

The HotelTonight iPad app became available Thursday, adding to the startup’s mobile repertoire. Once a user has chosen a place to stay, the booking is ultra-simple: After the app has your credit card info, booking a room requires just three taps and a swipe of the HotelTonight logo (to ensure that you really did want to book a room).

Booking is fast, but you might want to linger a bit, because the app itself is pretty beautiful. It includes maps of each of the cities it operates in, and has high-resolution images from each of the properties listed. Hotel profiles themselves are highlighted by a scrolling collage of photos as a background before booking. Click through any of those photos and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what the hotel you’re planning to stay in is really like.

In other words, HotelTonight has taken all of the convenience of its iPhone app and just prettied it up a bit for the larger, higher-res iPad display. In part, it did so because its users were already using the iPad to do so — just by maximizing the iPhone app to fit its screen, HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank told me when he showed me a demo of the app earlier this week.

HotelTonight has raised about $13 million over two rounds of funding, including a $9 million Series B round that closed late last year, led by Battery Ventures. The startup, which is just about 13 months old, has 40 employees today and is based in San Francisco.