There are several things to like about Hotels.com, you can search for hotels near landmarks or a particular address (especially handy if you must look at the Eiffel Tower every minute you are in the room), there are over 130,000 properties (I havenít counted them all so am taking their word for it) and they also have a great price match guarantee, which is:
If you find a lower rate for your hotel on another site just let us know and we'll refund the difference to you. It's that easy. Unlike some other sites, we don't just give you 24 hours from the date you book your hotel - if you find a lower price, anytime, right up to the hotel's cancellation window just let us know and we'll match the price. So it doesn't matter if you find a lower price 3 hours after you book or 3 months after, our guarantee still applies.
Of course, the lower price you find needs to be for the same dates, length of stay and room type but that's it.
Whether itís a good thing or not, the site is part of the Expedia group, so at least you know they are not a shady fly by night operator. They also have a nice little touch in that they provide simple travel guides to some of their more popular destinations. All in all an effective place to continue your search and get an idea of whatís available at your destination.
We at the Travel Room use Venere. Is it the best hotel search engine? No, but it fits into that middle ground where if you are staying in a relatively known destination they will have the cheapest room occasionally. Venere is very easy to navigate and it does have the handy option of offering you the hotels prices in the major currency of your choice. There are no fancy gimmicks, but we have found that they offer a really good range of Italian accommodation at good prices, possibly reflected in their Italian heritage. Venere does not offer any price match guarantees.
There are just so many hotel booking and reservation sites that its hard decide where to start when your looking for hotels for your impending holiday. A good place to start is our very own hotel deals page, where we list the best current deals that we know of!
If you still haven't found your perfect hotel then check out the hotel booking sites we have reviewed below. To help you, we have reviewed the hotel booking sites we know of and have personally used so that we can give you the benefit of our own personal experience and guidance as to when one hotel booking site may be better to use than another, where your likely to find more options or better value depending on where your going. Our goal is to make your search for the right hotel quicker....and your life easier...
Of course we can say what we like about any of the booking sites but at the end of the day I bet all of them have at a few hotels that you would consider below par...and yes they do try and weed out their substandard properties using reviews and complaints... but there will be a delay between the standards falling and the hotel being removed from the search engines. How do you avoid them then? Our answer is to use reviews; we here at The Travel Room write our own reviews and there are some very good sites such as Trip Advisor that will provide you with genuine customer reviews which will give you a good idea of what that hotel is like.
Look at the most recent reviews, i.e. the last couple of months, because it will tell you what the hotel is like now, not what is was like two years ago! Give a hotel a break, if they were hopeless two years ago but the most recent reviews show that its a great place to stay then give them the benefit of the doubt...maybe they took the reviews on board and fixed their problems. Also take into account the writer of the review and take the review itself with a grain of salt. Many review sites will tell you a little bit about the reviewer, where they are from and their family status. Remember that we all have different standards, and one mans luxury hotel may be another mans dump. Don't just take a review as negative, look at why. If it was because the night watchman didn't say goodbye to them in English then perhaps their expectations of what makes a good hotel are misguided, but if alternatively there are multiple complaints of the night club next door belting out loud music until 6am and you can't get a good night sleep then take heed and think twice!
So without further ado, lets get on to the reviews of our favourite hotel (and hostel) booking sites...
The Travel Room's Guide to
HOTEL BOOKING SITES
If your looking for a cheap place to lay your head then a good place to start is at a hostel booking site. Our favourite is Hostelbookers because there are no fees for booking and you only need to pay 10% of the booking up front. And don't be fooled, Hostelbookers may have the word Hostel in their name, but they do budget to mid-range hotels as well. We have often found that Hostelbookers have a cheaper price for hotels that we have seen on competitor hotel booking sites (for example, the last time I booked on Hostelbookers I booked a single room at the Maze backpackers hostel in Sydney, it cost $32.50 on Hostelbookers with no further booking fees or service charges, the same room at Hostelworld was $40). In fact they say that if you find the same thing cheaper somewhere else, they will refund double the difference.
The only downside we've found to Hostelbookers is that they don't seem to have many hotels or hostels in remoter parts of the world, for example India. So although your first port of call should be Hostelbookers you may need to also try...
From our experience, Hostelworld has had a wider range of hostels in the remoter parts of the world such as India. The downside with Hostelworld is of couse the booking fee masquerading as a "service charge", which is either US$2, £1 or €1.50 (note that as the exchange rates stand, you saving yourself a small amount by paying in UK pounds). Of course you could buy a gold card for US$10, £5, €7.50 (again you win if you pay in pounds) which would mean that you would pay no fees for 12 months but this is only worthwhile if you planning to book with them more than 5 times in the following 12 months.
Although Hostelworld has hostels and budget to mid range hotels they may not always be the cheapest for the property (see example under Hostelbookers above). They don't guarantee to be the cheapest the way Hostelbookers do, but they do guarantee that the hostel will have your booking details when you check-in, if they don't Hostelworld will give you $50!
Expedia has such a large range of hotels, they are guaranteed to have a hotel where you are going. In the places where we have had the most difficulty finding a hotel online, like Leipzig in Germany a few years ago (there seems to be more available now!) and Vladimir in Russia we were able to find and book something on Expedia.
Saying this, the hotels in those remote places may not be the cheapest, but if you are heading to somewhere off the beaten track, you may prefer the peace of mind of knowing that you will have a roof over your head when you arrive.
My suggestion is that you look at Expedia first to see what is available, but then check against other hotel booking websites. Expedia can be your back-up if you can't find anything else or anything cheaper!
Hotelclub and Ratestogo are basically the same site, but the theory is that Ratestogo offers cheaper last minute deals on the same hotels if you are staying there within the next 28 days. We have personally used both Hotelclub and Ratestogo and they can have some good prices for mid range hotels. I don't often see much of a difference between the hotels or prices between the two sites, but I guess they do occassionally sell off rooms at Ratestogo if hotels are empty otherwise there would be no point to having two sites! They won't be the cheapest hotels but sometimes you can find yourself a very nice good value hotel.
At the moment if you do a search on hotels in Sydney for the next couple of weeks, the hotels are fairly much identical on both sites, and the lower end of the scale starts at $70/double room for a hostel. I wouldn't consider this good value for a budget room and you can find cheaper on hostelbookers or hostelworld, but if you can push the boat out to $134/night then you can stay at the 4.5 star Rydges hotel and that's what I call great value!
Both Hotelclub and Ratestogo have a Best Price Guarantee (this is probably why all their hotels are listed at the same price regardless of whether they are within the 28 days or not?!?) which means that if you book a room in a "qualifying" hotel (I believe this is one where they specify that it is covered by the best price guarantee) but then find that same room at the same hotel for a lower price on a website other than Hotelclub and Ratestogo then, after taxes and fees, they will refund you the difference (which is not really saying much given the effort that you will have to put in to claim your refund, but hey it's better than nothing!).
Hotelclub does have a members rewards scheme where you earn Member Rewards points for every booking, and 1 Member Reward point is the equivalent of US$1. You can then spend your Member Rewards points on future bookings and unlike other Member Rewards programs you can start spending the Rewards points as soon as you accumulate them. Just remember that you don't accumulate Rewards points on any booking which has been paid for in part of in full by Member Rewards! Ratestogo does not have a Members Rewards scheme so if the price is the same on both Hotelclub and Ratestogo, your best off booking through Hotelclub.
Do you like these hotel reservation sites?
Are there any others you would like us to review?
Please comment...and if you leave your name and email we'll add you to our mailing list as well!
We've just arrived home from 6 months in India & Sri Lanka, and we found Agoda to be one of the most useful hotel booking sites for this part of the world. We've booked hotels for the United Arab Emirates, Nepal, India & Sri Lanka and found them to have good priced hotels (for us on a long trip this means budget end hotels), plus you earn Agoda rewards for most bookings and once you earn 12,500 (the equivalent of US$25) you can use the rewards against future bookings. We earned the equivalent of US$29 over only 7 bookings.
Definitely worth a look...
Another all round booking site, and also part of the Hotelclub group. Admittedly we have really only used ebookers for flights thus far than for hotels, but if the Studio with a queen bed in central Sydney for £50 is anything to go by then they have good value hotels and they, like expedia, are global and so have hotels all over the world. Worth a quick look to see if they have a good deal at your destination (just enter your search details in the search box to the left).
I also just discovered whilst playing with the ebookers search engine that you could stay at the Stratosphere Casino Hotel & Tower in Las Vegas for only £15 per night!! Plus get 2 for 1 on all their thrill rides thrown in...hmmmm my birthday is coming up...
The Accor hotels include the hotel brands of Sofitel, Mercure, Novotel, Ibis, ETAP and Formula 1 (hotelF1) and so covers all budgets (here in order from most expensive to cheapest). Our personal favourite is the Formula 1, a basic room which is the same price for one as it is for three people, with shared bathrooms that clean themselves after every use! Where else can up to three people stay in Paris for less than 40 per night?
The next one up the scale is the ETAP, like the Formula 1 you pay per room with up to 3 people in each, but with private bathrooms (should you not be excited by the self-cleaning but shared bathrooms). Most people will know the Ibis brand and is again another good option where you want the comfort of knowing your staying in a branded hotel, but without the branded price tag. The Ibis brand is often more central than the cheaper Formula 1 or ETAP.
When we first found Accor, the Formula 1's and ETAP's were mostly in Europe, but over the past few years they have expanded beyond the European borders and Formula 1's and ETAP's may now be found all over the world!
Another global player in the hotel business is Opodo, again, not always the cheapest but always has some sort of sale going on, so worth a look. Their current sale (Dec 2012) has hotels all over the world starting at £6.97 per night. There are no best rate guarantees or members rewards.
Alpharooms definitely do cheap rooms. As I type they have rooms in Turkey for £3.22 per person per night for bed and breakfast. The downside to this is that the hotel in question has a picture of dog poo on the customer review page, a photo taken by the customer in question, of the foyer in the hotel. All I can say is fair play to alpharooms for both leaving the photo and the review. I know that when I am paying this amount of money there will be things that I would find less than exemplary. It all depends on what you want I guess. The establishment in question does polarize people (there is no middle ground, people either love it or hate it), but it has adequate rooms, a pool and is 350 metres from the beach. alpharooms succeeds because it gives you enough information to make an informed decision. Exactly what I want from a site that claims 70,000 hotels available and that they are the most popular in the UK.
Finally, they do have a fairly rigid price match guarantee, which comes with a host of conditions, the most relevant being that you must claim the price difference within 24 hours of booking and the most disappointing being that you can only make one claim per month, disappointing if they truly believe they are offering the best price.
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