Your vacation days are confirmed, you picked the destination, determined your budget and you are ready to go! Not so fast! You need to do some bookings first. And before doing so, you need to know which are the best hotel booking sites.
By knowing what is available, which are the pros and cons of each platform and how each of them works, you will be able to choose the best hotel booking site for your needs.
In this text, we are going to expose our brief analysis of the some of the most used and most known hotel booking websites.
We are going to list pros and cons or each booking website as well as the main features.
Even though one size cannot fit all, we will try to get closer to the universal solution. We will suggest few hotel booking sites that, in our opinion and based on our experience, works the best. Main focus are prices, interface, help desk and conditions and terms.
We believe planning is the key to avoid unexpected situations during our relaxing time so let’s get to work.
Through this post, we are hoping to help you navigate through the most used hotel booking sites and find the one that suits the best to your needs.
**We want to remind our readers that everything that we recommend is because WE USE IT. This text is not sponsored and all our recommendations come, exclusively, from what we really think.
How to decide which are the best hotel booking sites?
This sounds like a pretty difficult question considering that there are numerous hotel booking sites. Moreover each day appear new ones promising the best deals.
Already known hotel booking sites are changing constantly and sometimes it gets really difficult to keep up with all the improvements and changes but also with all the downsides of each tool.
We have used a set of criteria (including: prices, interface of the tool, special offers & deals, customer support, flexibility in booking, and simplicity to use the tool) to shorten down the list of the best hotel booking sites to 6 final contestants.
The things that we personally appreciate when booking an accommodation are:
- Price – I think we can all agree we want to find the best deal possible
- Platform interface – we appreciate the user-friendly component and we like to be able to book quickly and in the simplest possible way (bug-free, hustle-fee, straightforward steps)
- Customer support – we like to know that we can count on problem-solving help desk in case we need it
- Flexibility in the bookings – especially important during these pandemic days. We prefer booking an accommodation with cancellation and refund options to the ones that are no-refund in case of the unpredicted cancellation.
To clarify further these points:
- Speaking of the price – not all the hotel booking sites offer the same price for a hotel of your choice. Therefore, it is important to know which websites, generally, offer the “best deals” when it comes to the prices.
- Interface – we believe the interface is more than just a “cosmetic” aspect. Isn’t it great when you can book your hotel in just few minutes and the website leads you intuitively from one step to another? No bugs, no website crashes or errors. No unnecessary filling in of the same information all over again. Simple and straightforward. That would be a description of a perfect hotel booking site when it comes to the interface and functionality of the tool.
- Customer support – is important when you have a problem. For example cockroaches at your non-refund accommodation. Even though the accommodation is non-refund, cockroaches were not part of the announced deal so it is important that the booking tool you chose offers common-sense help desk that will protect your interests and rights in case of unexpected events.
- Flexibility in the bookings – is important, now more than ever, due to the constantly changing global situation with Covid-19 but also, due to other justified reasons. In case you are planning your trip well in advance, it is always better to look for flexible booking options, just in case something unpredicted happens.
Although it might sounds obvious, a good factor to decide about the best hotel booking site is the portfolio as well. Let’s say, the variety of alternatives and options that the platform offers us, in many cases, plays the key role.
Let’s check the pros and cons of some of the most famous and most used hotel booking sites:
Booking.com is still probably the most famous platform worldwide. We are presenting this site as first participant for best online hotel booking platform because is the one that most of the people is familiar with.
Also, it’s our all times favorite. And yes, it’s pretty great in so many aspects.
This site has been on the market already for decades, it has improved a lot over the time and, I think it’s safe to say it’s now is a market leader.
Apart from accommodation, you can also book your tours, flights, trains, rent a car, airport transfers etc. – all in one app.
What is great about Booking.com is that it offers the biggest variety of all possible accommodation types – hotels, resorts, hostels, motels, B&B, guest houses, pensions, student residences, camping sites… This big variety of accommodation options you will hardly find in any other booking site so big plus goes to Booking for this.
Pros of Booking:
- User friendly, intuitive mobile app (as well as website PC version), easy to book in only few steps. You can save your information (such as names of the frequent travelers, payment method etc.) on your Booking account so your next bookings will be super rapid.
- Biggest variety of accommodation options: hotels, hostels, hostals, motels, resorts, private houses, B&B, pensions, students residences, camping sites…
- Genius program is part of a loyalty system. Once you create your account on Booking.com you are eligible for it. As you book properties using your account on Booking.com you will automatically get upgraded to the next genius level. Perks goes from direct discounts, hidden offers, early check-ins and late check-outs, welcome drinks, breakfast, free room upgrade and similar.
- Filtering options – Booking.com has amazing filtering options so you are able to get your ideal accommodation literally within minutes. Setting up all the filters you want can save you a lot of time and spare you from reviewing endless options. Some of the filters you can choose are: Area of the city, Within which distance from the center you want to be, you can filter by certain score or chose to see only positive or only negative reviews… You can also set up filters for the type of accommodation, certain room facility, breakfast included or by free-cancellation option (among many others).
- Sorting options – Apart from excellent filter options, you can also sort your search by some of several categories (from lower to higher price or vice versa; by stars from 0 to 5 and vice versa, by distance from the city center etc.).
- Advance payments – some properties require and some other don’t – payment in advance. Great thing is that you can filter your search by this option as well.
- Special Deals, Gateway Deals, Discount Deals for Genius members, Last Minute discounted Deals
- Free travel guides, travel related content and tours booking – I should not disclose this because it will take out traffic from our guides butttt….. On the website you can find plenty of articles with recommendations for things to do and places to visit. Once you have done the booking you will receive a paid tours recommendation list as well.
- Referral program discounts and rewards. This one is an interesting campaign that Booking launched to promote using their app. Every profile gets a referral link. If somebody books with your link you get money in you account (that you can use for your next bookings) after that person checks-out. The other person gets a discount on the booking as well. Its a win-win combination. This is great if both you and your travel companion have their own Booking account, you can exchange referral links and save some money. If you are a group of friends who travels together frequently, even better.
- You can save accommodations you like, make wish-lists and also track and compare your previous expenses on Booking.com
Cons of Booking.com:
- Sometimes the information provided to booking is not 100% accurate for each particular case and it might take some time until the scam is removed by Booking. We had a few situations in India that the accommodation was nothing like on the photo and we were supported by Booking to get full refund for the cancellation.
- I read in few places about booking.com taking position in favor of the hotel in cases of complains. We particularly experienced both sides of the coin but, in the most of the cases, the resolution was in our favor.
- Reviews might not be as reliable as they used to be. According to Forbes, around 15% of the reviews online are paid.
Do you think this is the Best Hotel Booking Site? Tell us in the comments if this is your favorite choice.
Don’t know how to use Booking.com? Watch our simple video on HOW TO USE BOOKING.COM and get the best of it!
If you like it Make a booking
Airbnb is another platform that a big amount of people uses. Therefore, we think it deserves to be considered part of the best hotel booking sites in 2022.
It offers various types of accommodation: hotel/hostel rooms, private houses, guest houses, shared apartments etc. It is great for longer stays and also for bigger groups of people traveling together.
Large majority of the properties offered at this platforms are shared or private houses or apartments. You can rent out the whole apartment or a house for a bigger group of people. Normally, the prices of such accommodation tend to be lower then in hotels.
On the other side, a tenant can benefit from all those amenities an average house or apartment has (washing machine, full equipped kitchen, cleaning products). And, of course, a home-atmosphere.
I think that the main thing to highlight about Airbnb is that they changed the game when it comes to traveling and accommodation. Something like Uber for taxis. From a start-up to be in Wall Street.
Many users who like using Airbnb reports their satisfaction with home-alike feeling of accommodation and personal factor related to the communication with the landlords.
Majority of the properties are private so, in many cases, you get to know the owner and little by little, you may end up going out together or even becoming friends.
If you are traveling to a new place and are interested to see how people actually lives, how they apartments look like, well, there is no better option than Airbnb.
Plus tip – if you want some local insider’s tip about the place, you can just ask your Airbnb landlord. It always gives much more personal feel than a recommendation from a hotel’s receptionist for example.
Another feature that we really love, and that make this platform a good candidate for best online hotel booking app, are the reviews. They come from other users as you. You can see their reviews about the property but also the hosts’ review about the tenant (which is not so important but can mean additional points for the authenticity).
Pros of Airbnb
- Easy and user-friendly app and web version.
- Value for money – best for budget trips and bigger groups of people.
- Closer look to the local way of living + you meet locals (especially in case you are renting a room in a place where the landlords live).
- Access to common facilities (such as washing machine and fully equipped kitchen) which means you can save money by cooking in the house or washing your clothes.
- More kid and pet friendly options. Considering that majority of the properties are personal homestays they, usually, adapt much better to particular needs.
- Free listing for hosts which means if you want to become a host it costs you 0. You have an extra room and want to have some extra income? You can list you room or apartment at Airbnb at no cost!
- Solid filtering options options. We love filtering and, in our humble opinion, it turns research into a much easier thing and provides more tailored results.
- Reviews for guests and hosts as well. Reviews are more interesting because they go both ways. You can read the guests reviews but also the reviews that hosts left to their guests.
- Decent – not outstanding- customer service in resolving disputes.
- Easy and direct communication between host & guest.
- Rewards affiliate link works at all levels. If you share your personal link with somebody else and they book through they get a discount, you get easy cash!
Cons of Airbnb
- No place to leave your luggage after check-out. We always use this extra service in hotels. In Airbnb properties it will depend on your landlord.
- Hosts can cancel a reservation anytime they want. This is something that happened to us and, believe me, it’s not nice at all. You don’t want to be searching for another accommodation last minute.
- Cancelation policies are not that flexible as at other platforms. Recently a big change was done due to Covid-19 situation. Yet we strongly suggest to read the cancellation policy in advance.
- In some cities private Airbnb is causing housing issues in others is not even fully legal.
- Added fees and taxes as a negative side. This could increase up to 20% the prices. Don’t really on first price that you get after the search. As you move towards the final step of your reservation, additional costs will be added for the most of the properties. These are usually cleaning or any other taxes that are not included and will be added additionally before the finalizing your reservation.
- Minimal stayed is required sometimes. Many properties will not accept one or two night stays. Many of them have minimum stay of 3 or more nights.
- Bookings are not immediate. The hosts might approve – or reject your booking. Your booking has to be approved by the landlord (in most of the cases). That means that sometimes the landlord will take longer to answer to your request and sometimes they will reject it even though the property shows available dates for booking. There is an option of Instant booking as well, for the properties that does not require previous approval from the owner.
Don’t know how to use Airbnb? Watch our simple video on HOW TO USE AIRBNB and get the best of it!
Does it sound like best online hotel booking platform? Do you use Airbnb? Tell us in the comments.
Agoda is probably not that famous as the other 2 platforms. Still, if you have traveled around Asia, most likely you got familiar with Agoda in that occasion.
Agoda is a fair candidate to be one best hotel booking app 2022 thanks to many of it’s great features.
It provides a wide catalogue of options for all kind of travelers and it is presented in more than 10 different languages. Besides traditional hotels and resorts, this platform also offers private houses, guest houses, hostels…
Agoda also offers flights booking, city tours, rent a car, airport transfer and long-term stays as well.
Interesting feature is “Today’s deals” where they offer temporary discounts for certain destinations.
Another benefit of using Agoda is their “Insider Deals” feature. They advertise up to 30% price drop just by creating an account and signing in.
While Agoda offers a big variety of different accommodation, the platform stands out from other, similar booking sites, specifically in Asia. If you are traveling around Asian countries, chances are that you will get better deals with Agoda than with any other booking site.
TIP: Book on Agoda between 5am to 7am for the lowest prices. If you want to find the best deals on Agoda, try searching as early as possible when there are no many other users searching the site. Chances are you will get better deal during that time than later during the day. Consider that the worst moment of the day would be check-out time (around 12pm) and the prices will be higher.
Pros of Agoda:
- The app is easy to use. Both the app & website are very intuitive and user-friendly.
- All ranges of accommodation options – from hostel till luxury villas and private houses.
- Early booking for better deals
- Great for Asian destinations (biggest variety and better deals)
- Free travel guides – You can see a list of things to do in a specific city. also, you can book tickets for tours and excursions
- Reward points system – Many bookings will provide you AgodaCash which you can use in future bookings. You earn by spending
- Secret Deals –If you are frequent user you will see deals that other don’t.
- Coupons and promotions – Today’s Deals, Insider Deals
- Fees are sometimes lower than on Booking.com, Airbnb or other apps
- No hidden fees, always 10% to 12%. Fees don’t change per season or country.
- Good filtering options.
Cons of Agoda:
- Customer service isn’t the best – not our experience but we have read many negative comments on the internet about the customer service of Agoda
- Taxes and service charges can increase the price significantly – in some cases, the first price that you see is not the final one. The final price may be increased adding taxes and service charges.
- Sometimes the App crashes and doesn’t work properly
- Sometimes it takes a while for the hotel/hostel to receive the confirmation
- Hard to get refunds if a problem arises
Do you consider Agoda as one of the best booking sites?
Don’t know how to use Agoda? Watch our simple video on HOW TO USE AGODA and get the best of it!
Trivago is an online hotel comparator which compares hotel prices around the internet and returns the best deal found. You can search various types of accommodation setting up various filters to narrow down your search.
After you indicate desired location, number of days/persons and set up filters, you will get a search result list with 3 best deals found on different websites.
From there, you can choose with which deal you want to proceed and the you will finish your booking on a website that offers the best deal.
Works quite similar like other booking websites with the difference that the booking is not completed on Trivago but on some of other booking websites that was found as “best deal”.
Pros of Trivago:
- User-friendly mobile app and desktop version – both intuitive and super easy to use
- Solid filtering options
- It does meta research, meaning you get more results in less time than if you search only in Booking.com, Agoda or on any other booking site. Here you get the results of all the accommodation options available on other sites (Booking.com, Agoda, Priceline…) and a suggestion option to book on a site that has the best deal.
- Time saving (you don’t have to search prices in several booking sites)
- Plenty of options for all budgets
Cons of Trivago:
- Booking is to be completed on another site
- Some partner sites are less reliable
- High season means less offers
Priceline is an online travel agency you can use to book flights, hotels, rental cars and cruises.
The key feature that differentiates Priceline from similar hotel booking sites is its “opaque” travel booking option.
If you’re flexible with your travel plans (meaning that you are fine with not knowing what hotel you’re staying at when you make a reservation), you might get a really good discount .
Besides standard search function where you can set up filters and sort your results, there are 2 interesting feature that make Priceline unique:
Express Deals and Pricebreakers are cool options if you don’t mind not having a full control over your travel plans. If the idea of booking a hotel room without even seeing the photos, sounds fun, this may be just for you. By now knowing which hotel are you booking, you can earn a good discount. This is how it works:
If you choose Express Deals, you will see the star rating of the hotel, guests’ review average score and the area of the city where the hotel is located. You will also get the percentage of the discount you are getting and, of course, the price per night. After you do the booking, the name of the hotel and other full details, will be revealed. These bookings are not refundable.
Pricebreakers feature gives you the possibility to see groups of 3 hotels with full details and a discounted price. You will book one of those 3 hotels, not knowing which one. After the booking they will reveal which of those 3 hotels you got. This is another worth a try option that offers Priceline.
Pros of Priceline
- Easy to use – the app and the desktop version are both easy to use
- Express Deals or Pricebreakers feature -you can get good deals. This doesn’t mean you WILL get the great discounts – you MAY win great discounts
- Priceline VIP is a loyalty program that you can join for free – the more you book the best benefits you get
- “Tonight Only Deals” – using the app you can benefit from discounted offers from this feature (great for last minute deals)
Cons of Priceline:
- Not so many filtering options
- Differences in user experience between the app and the website (we recommend using the app)
- Express Deals and Pricebreakers deals are not refundable and won’t always offer great discounts
- Extra fees and charges are added so, at the end, you don’t necessary, get that big discounts (for Pricebreakers and Express Deals)
Tip: When booking with Priceline, use a credit (or debit) card that offers travel insurance benefits. If you need to cancel your stay, you may be able to use the cancellation coverage provided with the card.
Kayak is another meta-search engine for travel deals. It searches all the other sites and shows where the best deals are. You can book accommodation, flights, rent a car, ferries, trains…
Kayak’s website is simple and minimalistic, with only the search bar and booking tabs at the top of the page and rates for popular destinations below.
It doesn’t have the fancies interface, but doesn’t mean it’s not a good candidate for one of the best hotel booking sites thanks to its functionality.
After the initial search, there are basic filters to narrow down your search.
If you’re new to using the site, it may appear that you can’t refine your search for a hotel other than by location and date. However, you can expand the sidebar menu for more options, like star rating, amenities or flexible dates.
What separates Kayak from other, similar platforms?
Kayak Hacker Stays is special type of deal that is applied in some cases.
If you see the tag “Hacker Stay” on some of your search results, it means that booking is split between different platforms.
Basically, you will book part of your stay on one platform (for example Booking.com) and part of your stay on another platform (for example Expedia). These types of bookings can offer some good discounts.
The only drawback is that you may have to switch rooms since you will have 2 separate reservations. However, in most of the cases, the reception staff will be able to combine your reservations upon check in so you don’t have to move.
Pros of Kayak:
- Easy to use the app and desktop version
- Price comparation across the similar booking sites
- Hacker Stay Deals – split bookings – good discount deals
- You can track prices setting up price alert and get notification when the prices go down
- Use Kayak tools to plan your trip – Kayak has some great resources such as guides and recommendations + you can book transport, rent a car, book a city tour… basically, everything you need for your trip.
- Price-trend predictor so you can see the estimations for the best moment (money-wise) to book your trip
- Kayak’s Explore is another interesting feature that offers the cheapest flight tickets from your home city to anywhere else in the world. By taping in your home city airport (and the dates or period of time) you will get the recommendation for destination that has the cheapest flights from your home city.
Cons of Kayak:
- You cannot book directly on Kayak but on third-party site
- Hotel search results might rely too much on third-party booking sites and, sometimes, partner sites are less reliable
- No loyalty program since it’s only a search engine
**This post may contain affiliate links that pay us when you click on them.
Booking.com, Airbnb, Agoda, Trivago, Priceline and Kayak are, obviously, not the only hotel booking sites. We consider them the best ones especially because each one has a certain particularity that differentiate them from other, similar tools.
Also, in terms of functionality and accuracy, all of them score pretty high.
Even though they all, basically, provide the same service – to book an accommodation, each one is special in it’s own way and they provide something that the other one doesn’t. That’s why it would be difficult (and not objective enough) to chose one, best hotel booking site.
As for us, after we tried several other hotel booking sites (among which some we liked and some we didn’t), our all times favorite is Booking.com. That doesn’t mean that we don’t use the others, it just means that we use Booking.com more frequently.
It doesn’t always offer the best price, it is usually not more than just couple of euros higher than at other places.
We love it for it’s simplicity and variety of options at the same time. We believe it offers the biggest variety of accommodations options (including non-conventional ones) + amazing filtering and sorting options.
That way, you can search the biggest data basis of offers in literally minutes. And we love that!
We had some amazing experiences with Airbnb (in Russia and Indonesia) and we believe it’s a great tool to get closer to local culture through your accommodation.
Agoda is absolutely the best tool if you are traveling to Asia – you will get the biggest variety of offers + better deals than in other platforms.
Trivago is great option if you want to know the prices across other platforms as well and be sure to get the best possible deal.
Priceline is cool option if you want to add some extra excitement to your travel planning. With Express Deals or Pricebreakers options, your final booking choice will be a surprise.
Kayak is great if you want to save each penny – with Hacker Stays you can enjoy special prices by doing a split booking through different platforms.
We can conclude that, although we have a favorite, all of the above-mentioned 6 platforms, can be considered as the best online hotel booking site depending on each individual’s personal preferences, priorities and needs when booking a stay.
So, which one is gonna be your ideal hotel booking website?
Let us know in the comments below.
BONUS: 15 TIPS TO SAVE MONEY IN THE Best Hotel Booking Sites in 2022
1 – Try booking directly with the hotel – in person or at the hotel’s website. Sometimes they offer lower prices than booking sites
2 – If you like staying at hotel chains – make yourself part of the Loyalty program with which you get discounts
3 – Register with a couple of emails (or your traveling partner/s should also open an account) to get discounts by promoting the platform (sharing discount codes between each other, referral, etc.)
4 – Booking early? You can save money for being an early bird
5 – Booking late? You can save money with last minute deals
6 – Be flexible with dates. There are properties with cheaper prices during the week and more expensive on weekends and other way around. Some hotels are oriented for business travelers which means that during weekends they tent to be more cheap and empty.
7 – Compare prices in different platforms to get the best deals.
8 – Get a credit card with hotel rewards or travel points
9 – Join membership, loyalty or reward programs. Think of chain hotels and also on a booking platform you use frequently (more bookings at the same platform will grant you more discounts)
10 – Look for special (seasonal, occasional or casual) coupons, discount codes and promotions. While writing this, Booking.com was offering a promo code for 50% off on selected hotels, Agoda was giving free cash for bookings.
11 – Set price alert for your accommodation of choice
12 – Book all your travel activities at one platform. Flights, accommodation, tours, train tickets etc… this can save you some money
13 -Consider alternatives to hotels like hostels (you can even get a hostel with a private bathroom). Airbnb, student residences, motels, home-stays, camping or glamping options…
14 – Cut out all the amenities that you don’t need (by cutting out the breakfast, rooms with a sea view for example, cancellation & refund options, you can get a cheaper room)
15 – Try hostels for late night bookings. If you arrive late at night and need a place just to sleep for few hours, is a waste of money to rent a an expensive hotel room. Instead, you can get a cheap hostel room (maybe close to the airport) and the next day you can rent a nicer and more expensive room.
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