Staying at a hotel on your next vacation? Here are tips on how to get the best hotel deals and the best hotel booking site for hassle-free transactions.
When traveling, it’s important to get the best deal out of anything. Like knowing the best time to book flights, being able to score great hotel deals can save you hundreds of dollars. The thing is, there are plenty of sites where you can book hotel deals, including the official hotel website. One can easily get overwhelmed because there are many sites, all with the same purpose: to be the best hotel booking site.
You can book hotel stays through three different types of websites: the hotel’s official website, metasearch engines that redirect you to the hotel website, and OTAs (online travel agencies). Prices vary depending on the website’s offer and what filters you use when searching.
Regardless, getting a good deal from the best hotel booking site requires effort and careful planning.
How Do I Get the Best Hotel Deals
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Book your hotel and airline tickets as a bundle – In some cases, you might get a cheaper deal for both rather than booking the two separately. Websites like Travelocity, Expedia, and Lastminute.com offer vacation packages for hotel and airline tickets.
Sign up for hotel loyalty programs – Like airline loyalty programs, hotel loyalty programs offer free upgrades and discounts. Marriott Hotel’s loyalty program grants free WiFi access and a best-rate guarantee. Other perks include free nights or additional benefits when booking.
Compare – Before booking at a certain website, make sure to double-check competitor sites to see which has the better offer. Use the same filters and book with a website that offers cheaper rates. The same concept also applies when looking for the best airline tickets.
Check for hidden fees – Most of the time, hotel prices are more expensive because additional charges are included, like extra fees for towels and WiFi. To avoid these hidden charges, make sure that the basic necessities are already added in your hotel rate.
Sign up for membership discounts – There are several non-hotel booking websites that offer great discounts on both hostels and hotels. All you need to do is to type in the discount code when booking in order to get your discounted hotel stay. The American Automobile Association (AAA) and the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) offer discounts for international hotel stays and car rentals.
When to Book a Hotel
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According to a study made by Kayak in 2018, avoid searching for hotel deals from Monday to Wednesday. Both domestic and local hotel stays are at their peak during those days. The best day to search and book for a hotel deal is Friday or during the weekend.
Last-minute deals are often less expensive than those made in advance, according to analysts from Priceline. In some cases, booking on the same day can get you up to 10% less than booking on the day before. However, booking at the last-minute is a risk in itself and you might end up not getting a room the longer you wait. Last-minute bookings are also not recommended if you want to stay at a specific hotel or if you are traveling in a large group.
In the same study made by Kayak, it is recommended to book 1 to 3 days in advance for domestic hotel stays of 1 day to 2 weeks. Save as much as 20 USD per night if you book within this window. For hotel stays of more than 2 weeks, book up to 6 days in advance to get 7 USD savings.
On the other hand, international hotel stays, book up to 6 days in advance if you are staying for 1 to 3 days to get up to 6 USD worth of savings. If you are staying for one week to 2 weeks, book 2 weeks in advance to get 2 to 6 USD savings per night. Lastly, book up to 4 weeks ahead for hotel stays of more than 2 weeks to get up to 21 USD savings per night.
Best Hotel Booking Site
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Booking.com is perhaps the best hotel booking site in terms of search results and prices. The website boasts over 29 million listings worldwide and is a favorite among travelers. When searching, Booking.com also displays hostels, vacation homes, and B&Bs aside from hotels. If you are strictly searching for hotels, just use the Property Type filter and resume searching. Reviews displayed are from confirmed guests, so the reviews are authentic. What makes Booking.com a standout from other sites is that the rates displayed include tax to avoid hidden charges in the final price.
Pros: No hidden costs in rates displayed
Cons: You have to filter manually if you are specifically looking for a hotel
Expedia is the best hotel booking site for those who are planning trips: from airline tickets, hotel stays, and tours. You are guaranteed to find the perfect hotel for you thanks to its additional search categories. These categories include price range, distance from the airport, and other filters based on your chosen city. Expedia is also one of the hotel booking sites where you can book your car rental, sightseeing tours, and even cruise tickets. Earn rewards through its free-to-join loyalty program and get exclusive travel offers and earn points whenever you book with them.
Pros: Also offers flight packages, car rentals, and tours
Cons: Most bookings are non-refundable
Aside from being a review site, TripAdvisor is also known for being a hotel booking site. This is perfect for travelers who want to read hotel reviews before booking to guarantee its service. TripAdvisor also allows for more in-depth searching through its different filters and reviews. If you’re looking for a hotel that is wheelchair-accessible or has a great spa, you can easily find one using the filters and reviews. It also displays the three lowest rates from different booking sites so you can easily narrow down your choices. Although it has fewer listings compared to its competitors, it displays the lowest prices.
Pros: Filter by amenities are available
Cons: Fewer listings as compared to other websites
Momondo is a metasearch engine for flights, car rentals, and hotel stays. It has a straightforward interface that displays deals from other websites. When entering dates, the calendar days are also color-coded so you know which dates have cheaper and more expensive dates. Since Momondo is a metasearch engine, you are redirected to the booking website (hotel’s official website or a third-party website) to complete your transaction.
Pros: User-friendly interface
Cons: Lack of a loyalty program
Trivago is the best hotel booking site for comparing hotel prices. It includes prices from websites like Booking.com, Orbitz, Agoda, and hundreds of other sites. Narrow down your search criteria and use the filters if you are looking for a hotel that has non-smoking rooms or a hotel that offers activities like biking, boat rental, and others. In the results page, Trivago also displays recommended hotel deals, which usually include free cancellation or free breakfast.
Pros: Easy to use
Cons: Doesn’t always find the lowest rates
Hotels.com boasts over 300,000 hotel listings and has more than 25 million reviews, giving you plenty of options. It is also one of the first hotel booking sites, founded in 1991. It has a thorough search function that allows you to add categories and even select if you are looking for a boutique hotel or a motel. Once you’ve found the perfect hotel, you are given all information you need including an overview of the hotel and its reviews. Hotels.com also has an enticing loyalty program where you are rewarded 1 free night for every 10 nights booked through their platform.
Pros: Features offers from major and independent hotels
Cons: Cheaper deals can be found elsewhere
7. Skyscanner Hotels
Like its flight counterpart, Skyscanner Hotels is one of the most reliable hotel booking sites around. As a metasearch engine, Skyscanner Hotels only displays the best rates from different OTAs, with the cheapest rates being highlighted. Take note however that the rates displayed don’t include tax and certain fees. When searching, you can easily select to view the rates on a per night basis or if you want to view the total stay. Easily narrow down your choices with helpful filters such as meal, location, and cancellation options to find the perfect hotel for you.
Pros: Specific filters
Cons: Prices displayed don’t include tax
Hotwire is the best hotel booking site for travelers who prefer booking hotels and flights together. Save hundreds of dollars if you book hotels and flights as vacation packages. Enter your departure and arrival airport, and dates of travel and Hotwire displays its hotel, room, and flight options. They also offer Hot Rate Hotels wherein you get cheaper rates, but you can only see the hotel name after the booking is complete. If this isn’t your cup of tea, simply check the hotels listed under Standard Rate Hotels and choose the hotel suited for you.
Pros: Save more when you book hotel stays and flights as a package
Cons: Hotel names in the Hot Rate Hotels can only be viewed once the booking is done
For travelers on a budget, HostelWord is the best hotel booking site. It has over 36,000 listings in more than 170 countries, so you have a multitude of choices. Reviews on the site are more than 12 million, so you are given plenty of information before sealing the deal. The results page also shows the traveler rating, distance from the city center, and notable amenities for easier comparison. Additional filters can be used such as property types, facilities, and prices.
Pros: Great for budget travelers
Cons: Only allows pre-payments
10. Mr & Mrs. Smith
Mr & Mrs. Smith is the best hotel booking site if you want to stay in boutique hotels and other luxury accommodations. Their list of more than 1,600 lodgings is the result of a meticulous screening process where hotels are anonymously reviewed by their in-house specialists. Because of this, you are guaranteed that the listings included in their website only provide the finest of services. Find different spa hotels in Indonesia, pet-friendly lodgings, and even ski hotels in Iceland for that perfect winter getaway. Sign up as a member at Mr & Mrs. Smith and receive year-round offers and extras like a bottle of champagne or a cooking class upon arrival.
Pros: Perfect for travelers looking for boutique hotels
Cons: Few listings available
Like Hotwire, Priceline offers discounted hotel stays through its Express Deals, perfect for travelers who don’t mind staying at different hotels. The hotel name is also kept a secret until the booking is done, and are non-refundable and non-transferable. Priceline also has a best-price guarantee where you will receive 100% of the price difference once you find a better deal within 24 hours of booking. For Express Deals, get up to a whopping 200% refund of the price difference. The results page also displays the average retail price for the dates chosen, making it easier to gauge your budget per night.
Pros: Best price guarantee refunds you up to 200% of the price difference
Cons: Average filters
Kayak is a popular metasearch website for hotel deals and has a straightforward and simple interface. It has a unique map feature that offers more details about your chosen city aside from the hotel location. Find popular dining spots as well as the city’s must-visit landmarks and shopping centers. Use the “nearby” filter if you want to stay at a hotel that is close to a certain landmark or address. Although it doesn’t always show the cheapest rates, Kayak lets you easily compare hotels and its amenities in just one website.
Pros: Easy to use interface on both desktop and app
Cons: Doesn’t display rates from the official hotel website
13. Google Hotel Finder
Google Hotel Finder is an efficient si te to look for hotel deals. Simply search “hotels in” and enter the destination you want, or just proceed to the Google Hotels main page. Hotels are marked by prices on the map, unlike other websites where they are marked by dots or location pins. Click on any of the listed hotels to see more details and when you’ve found a suitable deal, click it and you will be redirected to complete the booking. The satellite and street view from Google maps makes it easy to find the specific location of the hotel and hopefully narrow down your choices. Although it lacks filtering options, it is a convenient way to find the best hotel prices in the market.
Pros: Easily accessible, detailed location available via Satellite view
Cons: Lack of filtering options
HotelsCombined is an aggregator that searches through different OTAs and booking engines, including the official hotel website. This is the best place to start searching and comparing hotel deals because of the number of results it shows. HotelsCombined also allows you to view different room options from the same provider for easier comparison. Because it is only an aggregator, you’ll be redirected to the third-party site to complete your booking. There are chances where the final price will be higher than the one displayed on the search results, but the difference is usually just a few dollars. If you’re looking for the best hotel booking site that displays a multitude of results, HotelsCombined is your best pick.
Pros: Search results show deals form more than 30 OTAs
Cons: Inconsistent pricing
Agoda is the perfect hotel booking site for destinations in Asia. Although flights, airport transfers, and car rentals are available, Agoda specializes in accommodations, including hostels and private houses. Use additional filters such as guest ratings, property amenities, and payment options to narrow down your search results. What’s nice about Agoda is that most rooms have flexible payment terms (pay now or later) with free cancellation. Sign up for Agoda’s Insider Deals and get up to 30% savings on your hotel booking.
Pros: Best hotel booking site for Asian destinations
Cons: Only allows searching by city, not by region
If you are looking for last-minute hotel deals, HotelTonight is the best hotel booking site. HotelTonight uses an algorithm that selects the best hotel deals available on that day, then sorts them according to the hotel type and location. Take note that the rates listed in the app don’t include additional charges such as tax and certain fees. HotelTonight also has a loyalty program, HT Perks, that offers discounted rates, exclusive deals, and VIP customer support.
Pros: Perfect for last-minute deals
Cons: Search results limited
Orbitz is an OTA under Expedia, Inc, making it sister companies with Expedia and Travelocity. The three websites also have a similar design, although the prices displayed on the search results vary. What makes Orbitz the best hotel booking site is that it has a tempting loyalty program. With every booking, you earn an Orbuck which is worth 1 USD. Hotel stays booked via a desktop earn you 3% Orbucks and bookings made via the app earns you 5%. Earn more when you book a hotel and flight together. Lower prices for hotel stays are also available for members and you can redeem your points at hotels worldwide. Rewards include free breakfast or WiFi.
Pros: Loyalty program points can be redeemed at 300,000 hotels worldwide
Cons: Live chat feature is difficult to find
Travelocity is another site that offers flight tickets, hotels, car rentals, and travel packages. Its results page shows all of the important details and hotel reviews from TripAdvisor. Save more money when booking a flight and hotel package rather than booking separately. If you are booking a travel package deal, Travelocity guides you in each reservation process so you don’t have to book individually. Sign up for a Travelocity account and get access to member-only rates which save up to 10%. However, the discounts are only available for select hotels.
Pros: Can add flight and car rental options when searching
Cons: Member discounts available at certain hotels
Another hotel booking site for last-minute travelers, LastMinute.com is an OTA founded in 1998 that caters mostly to European destinations. LastMinute.com also includes different types of accommodation such as guesthouses, apartments, and other luxury accommodations aside from hotels. Save up to 40% through its Top Secret Hotels, a feature similar to Priceline’s Express Deals and Hotwire’s Hot Rate Hotels. LatsMinute.com offers convenient hotel and flight packages via Flash Sales.
Pros: Good for destinations in Europe and in the UK
Cons: Fewer hotels listed as compared to competitors
20. OneTravel Hotels
OneTravel offers hotel bookings, flights, car rentals, and cruises. They also offer a unique “Travel by Theme” feature for students, senior citizens, and travelers who want a quick weekend getaway. For travelers looking for a room at the last minute, OneTravel also offers affordable last-minute hotel deals. Although the search results only show the name of the hotel, price, check-in, and check-out, easily select the page for the additional details and options available. Unlike other hotel booking websites, however, OneTravel requires the full payment upon booking, which can be troublesome for certain travelers.
Pros: Plenty of affordable deals
Cons: Prices displayed don’t include tax
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Get Cheap Deals With the Best Hotel Booking Site
Book your hotel stays through metasearch engines, OTAs, and the hotel’s official website. But before you proceed with your transactions, ask yourself: is this the best deal possible? Through different hotel booking sites, finding the perfect deal that suits your budget and preferences is possible. Whether you want to stay at a luxury hotel in Bali, or you are on the hunt for the best last-minute deal, there is a hotel for you.
Aside from finding the best hotel booking site, you may also sign up for membership discounts and hotel loyalty programs to get the best hotel deal. Flight and hotel packages are also available for hassle-free planning. Now that you’re aware of the different hotel booking websites, you’re one step closer to booking the best hotel stay.