CNN offers a primer on opaque hotel sites, Hotwire and Priceline.  This article was travel proceduralism at its best.  According to the author, a successful Priceline strategy involves:

  1. Determine the approximate location you want to stay at your destination and identify the Priceline zone that fits your preference;
  2. Research successful bids on travel forums such as BiddingForTravel and Better Bidding;
  3. Set a budget, factoring in such issues as parking and wifi access; and
  4. Make an initial bid in your zone.  If it is rejected, increase your bid slightly and slowly add zones that do not have hotels in your preferred star rating.  For example, if you want a 4 star property in zone A, slowly add zones that do not have 4 star properties.
It might seem obvious, but you should probably reassess something if you cannot get a successful bid within your budget.  My recommendation would be to drop to the next class of hotel, rather than sacrifice on location.
Priceline is a pre-paid reservation.  Once you have a reservation that’s accepted, it is non-refundable and paid.  If it’s at the one hotel in the area you hate, you are stuck.   You may not get some benefits that a standard reservation gets (it depends on the hotel).
I’ve never done Priceline, but I’d be willing to try it.  I may need to see how low I can go for Thanksgiving vacation.   It’s almost a good excuse to travel.