November 6, 2019

Best Hotel Booking Site

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You've got plenty of options when booking hotels for your next trip. But which websites offer the best deals? We cover all the top sites—and the pros and cons you should know before booking.

Is It Better to Book Directly With the Hotel?

With all the other online options available, you may still get the best deal by contacting the hotel directly. Many major brands offer deals and specials to compete with online travel agencies (OTAs) and search engines.

Depending on the hotel, you'll also earn points through their reward programs. You won't typically qualify for these when booking through other sites.

If you find a good deal on OTA website, call the hotel directly before booking. They may offer that lower price. Plus, you'll earn the loyalty points that come with reserving your room directly. These points can used toward future stays or special promotions.

Even if they don't drop their price, they might give you other perks like free breakfast, Wi-Fi, or complimentary late checkout.

Are hotel booking sites reliable?
You can book with confidence through well-known online travel agencies and search engines (including all the ones on our list). However, you may want to do some research before reserving a room with an unfamiliar website. Regardless of where you book, always call the hotel 24–48 hours after making your reservation to confirm.

Top Hotel Booking Sites

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We've compiled a list of the best booking sites for your next business trip or vacation. Many of these OTAs and travel search engines have similar features. The best one for you depends on your needs and destination.

Keep reading to learn more.

Which website gives you the best hotel deals?
  • Best for Las Vegas: Hotwire or Priceline
  • Best for Asia: Agoda or Trivago
  • Best for Europe: Booking.com
  • Best for Last Minute Travel: HotelTonight

Hotels.com

Easy to use and easy to navigate, Hotels.com also lets you book flights and flight/hotel packages.

Pros

  • Has own loyalty program—earn 1 night for every 10 you book
  • "Secret Prices" only available to users
  • Frequent sales on hotel rooms

Cons

  • Can't earn loyalty rewards

Booking.com

One of the most popular booking sites, Booking.com offers a low-price guarantee. Any guest who finds the same hotel and dates at a lower price online can get refunded the difference. You can also trust that their "Verified Reviews" come from actual customers.

Pros

  • Book other types of accommodations—bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, hostels, etc.
  • Book flights, car rentals, airport taxis, and flight plus hotels
  • Lots of search filtering options and clear descriptions of types of rooms
  • 24/7 customer service

Cons

  • Can't earn loyalty rewards

Best for Paris and Rome
For cheap deals on hotel brands and franchises, start with Booking.com. But European cities in France, Italy, and Spain are also home to a lot of independent hotels. Travel search engines like Trivago or HotelsCombined let you look for hotels as well as hostels, inns, vacation rentals, and bed and breakfasts.

Agoda

Originally a hotel booking site for Asia, Agoda lets you narrow your search by accommodation class, special deals and discounts, as well as traditional filters. It offers special "Insider Deals" for creating an account and logging in each time you visit the site.

Pros

  • Pay now or later options
  • Free cancellations
  • Map feature with nearby attractions
  • Can pay with PayPal

Cons

  • No loyalty points

Best for Travel to Japan
Rakuten is one of the largest online shopping portals in Japan, offering travelers hundreds of hotel options. Trivago is also worth checking out, with over 12,000 hotels in Tokyo alone.

KAYAK

KAYAK is a travel search engine, not an online travel agent. Its Hacker Rates offer extra savings by booking through two different portals. When checking in, ask the front desk to combine the reservations so you don't have to change rooms.

Pros

  • Excellent filtering options
  • Map option shows all the hotels in that city, plus restaurants, shopping, and attractions
  • Search for flights, cars, cruises, packages, and special deals

Cons

  • Can't book directly through the site

What's the difference between an online travel agent (OTA) and a travel search engine?
An OTA, like Expedia or Agoda, compiles available hotel rooms so users can compare prices and other features. You can book your stay directly through an OTA.

A travel search engine, like KAYAK, displays available rooms and features from several OTAs to help users find the best price. But you can't book your room directly—instead, you'll get redirected to the site of your choosing.

Hotwire

With wide name recognition, Hotwire is a great option if you're not particular about the brand of hotel. The site offers "Hot Rate Hotels", where you receive a hotel's rating, neighborhood, and amenities, but not the name of the hotel, before booking.

Pros

  • Book vacation packages with flights to save more
  • Price guarantee—get a refund if you find the same room at a lower price within 24 hours of booking
  • Frequent sales
  • Can pay with PayPal

Cons

  • No loyalty rewards

Priceline

Like Hotwire, Priceline offers deals on surprise hotels. The "Express Deals" feature lets you search by city and date. You'll see the hotel's amenities, rating, and general location in the city but not the hotel's name until after you book.

Pros

  • Low-price guarantee—100% refund if you find a lower price elsewhere within 24 hours, 200% refund for Express Deal hotels
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Book flights, rental cars, cruises, and vacation packages

Cons

  • No loyalty rewards

Las Vegas Hotels: Hotwire vs Priceline
Both websites offer great deals on rooms, especially if you're flexible. Hotwire and Priceline offer deals where you pick the general area and rating but not the specific hotel until after you book.

Recently, Hotwire was offering rooms at a 4-star hotel in the central Strip area of Las Vegas for $23 a night. Priceline's Express Deals showed a 3-star Strip hotel for $48 a night.

American Express Travel

Don't let the name fool you—anyone can access American Express Travel, though AMEX Membership Reward members benefit the most. Simply create an account for this booking portal to see final pricing.

Pros

  • Can book flights, hotels, cars, cruises, and packages

Cons

  • Price doesn't always show extra fees and taxes

Don't use Membership Reward points through the travel portal. Instead, transfer those points to travel partners to make your points go farther.

Expedia

Expedia is a travel booking website with its own loyalty program. Guests earn two points for every $1 they spend booking a hotel through the site. The program has three levels: Blue, Silver, and Gold.

Pros

  • Easy-to-earn rewards program with three tiers
  • Benefits for higher tiers including bonus points, exclusive offers, and no blackout dates for reward redemption

Cons

  • Does not allow for loyalty rewards

Expedia has a Split Rate Offer where you can break multiple-night stays into two separate reservations to maximize savings.

But it can be a hassle since you'll have to check out and check back in between reservations. The hotel also may not guarantee you'll have the same room for both reservations.

Orbitz

If you're not loyal to a specific hotel brand, Orbitz allows you to build loyalty points no matter what hotel chain you book. You'll get 1 Orbuck for every $1 you spend on flights and vacation packages.

The program has three loyalty levels: Silver, Gold, and Platinum, with exclusive higher-tier rewards like priority access, upgrades, and freebies (Wi-Fi, breakfast, etc.) at VIP hotels.

Pros

  • Generous loyalty program with three loyalty levels
  • Earn rewards at restaurants through Orbitz Rewards Dining
  • Booking bonuses—3% in Orbucks when you book hotels on a web browser and 5% through the app

Cons

  • Orbucks can only be used for hotel stays

Skyscanner

Better known for their flight deals, Skyscanner does offer hotel bookings. Be aware, however, that the price listed is for the entire stay, not for one night.

Pros

  • Lots of filtering options
  • Search for hostels, B&Bs, and other types of accommodations

Cons

  • Price per night not clear
  • No loyalty rewards

Best for Thailand
Trivago is a great option for Thailand (and overseas travel in general), featuring nearly 100,000 Thai hotels.

More of a travel search engine than an online travel agency, Trivago compiles hotel deals from all the major websites. It offers lots of information, including rankings, customer reviews, and photos.

Travelocity

As with other online travel agencies, you can search for hotels and other needs like flights, cars, and cruises.

Pros

  • Discounts to members who sign up for a free account and log in before searching
  • Clear filtering options

Cons

  • Can't earn loyalty rewards

Always read the fine print
Each website's policy is different and sometimes the cancellation policies can even differ on the same website depending on the hotel. The booking website or the hotel may also charge additional taxes, resort fees, and other surcharges.

Other Options

HotelTonight
This simple, user-friendly app can help you find awesome deals on last-minute stays because it sells rooms in sold-out hotels.

You can also book several days ahead of time in certain hotels. HotelTonight also shows rooms that normally have a minimum night stay requirement that you can book for only one night.

TripAdvisor
Like KAYAK, you don't book directly through TripAdvisor. When you search for a hotel, it will list each option and show the prices on several OTAs with links to each. TripAdvisor also offers ratings for nearly every hotel, as well as photos from previous guests.

Google Hotel Finder
From the Google homepage, type in "hotels in (fill in the blank)" to see all available rooms in that area. You can't book directly through Google, but you can follow the links to other OTAs. The filtering options aren't as strong as other websites, but you can still narrow down your choices to find some great deals. Google also allows you to set up price tracking.

HotelsCombined
You can't book hotels through HotelsCombined, but it does give you numerous options for the best deals on other OTAs. Their Hot Deals section gives that day's top deals at hotels throughout the world.

Roomlia
This platform has similar search options as other sites, but charges a $25 cancellation fee up to 5 days before travel and no refund within 5 days of the stay.

GetARoom
A little old-school, GetARoom has a website where you can search for hotel deals. To get an even better discount, you have to call their 1-800 number and speak to a customer service rep. The website also charges a service fee.

Hotel Booking Tips

Use a Travel Rewards Credit Card
Regardless of where you choose to book, always use a travel credit card to pay for your stay. You'll earn extra points or miles on top of getting a great deal.

Book Early to Get the Best Deals
Hotel prices usually rise as you get closer to your stay dates. You may find low-priced, last-minute deals, but it's usually best to reserve your room well in advance.

Trust, but Verify
After booking through an OTA, verify with the hotel that your reservation is in their system.

Bottom Line

You've got plenty of options for booking hotels online. Online Travel Agencies purchase blocks of hotel rooms they sell at a cheaper rate, but watch out for hidden fees and strict cancellation policies.

Travel search engines help you narrow down choices but don't allow you to book directly. If you have elite status with a hotel brand, book directly with them to earn rewards points and stays that will help you maintain your elite status.

More from CreditDonkey:


Google Flights


Hotwire


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