When the first hotel booking site appeared on the web, it was a godsend. Suddenly, you could look up rates, availability, reviews AND book reservations all in one place. But now that online travel planning is a given, we expect more. The best search engines not only offer the lowest price but also a variety of usability features that can make all the difference to finding the perfect accomodations for your trip. Which hotel booking site is best for travel planning? You decide. Then check our hotel booking tips to get the most bang for your buck.
Find Your Favorite Hotel Booking Site
What’s to like: Booking.com lists over 2 million properties, including the greatest variety of accommodations, including apartments and hostels. Easy to use interface online and on mobile platform with excellent list of filters that work well with interactive map. Added value: Daily deals, free cancellation, 24/7 customer service, airport taxi bookings.
2.) Expedia (and/or Travelocity or Orbitz)
What’s to like: Expedia searches draw on a database of 500,000 properties (because Expedia now owns Travelocity and Orbitz, any of these search engines will bring up the same results). Easy to use interface online and on mobile platform with good (not comprehensive) list of filters that work well with interactive map. Added value: Expedia rewards program provides point-based discounts and special deals for members; Customer Support by phone 24/7.
3.) Google Hotel Finder
What’s to like: Not surprisingly, Google Hotel Finder makes full use of its sophisticated search algorithms and Google Maps. So, instead of working through the sorting filters, you can type in “four star hotel in New York City under $400 with WiFi connection.” Of course, you can still use the available search filters: price, star rating, user rating, amenities, and brand. Added value: Track price alerts and receive travel tips by email.
4.) Trip Advisor
What’s to like: TripAdvisor is always worth checking out if only for its database of brutally honest reviews. It’s the world’s largest travel site, partnering with many of the other travel sites listed here, and booking searches are sourced out to other travel sites. Added value: TripAdvisor is a helpful resource for planning the entire trip; in addition to hotel reviews, it has restaurant and attraction reviews as well as area guides.
What’s to like: Hotwire offers big savings with “Hot Rate” purchase where hotel name isn’t revealed until after booking, get deep discounts on hotels looking to fill inventory. Easy to use interface online and on mobile platform with excellent list of filters that work well with interactive map. Added value: TripStarter helps you find the best to to visit; use Trip Watcher to set up price drop alerts.
What’s to like: Priceline will often turn up more results in any given city, although not necessarily the cheapest options. But with the option of Express Deals and Name Your Own Price,® where hotel name is not revealed until after purchase, rates are competitive with Hotwire. Added value: Trip bundle deals; Tonight Only deals in app; heavy discounts with Express Deals and Name Your Own Price® where hotel name is not revealed until after purchase; Customer Support by phone 24/7.
What’s to like: Comparing multiple travel websites at once, Kayak draws on the databases of hundreds of hotel comparison sites. It’s great for getting an overview of what’s available before heading to the individual booking sites. Added value: Price Alerts – Receive email updates and notifications of the latest hotel prices. Mobile app provides a number of handy add ons, including: trip agenda, flight tracker, and augmented reality bag measurer.
8.) Hotels (hotels.com)
What’s to like: Hotels.com claims “hundreds of thousands” hotel listings in over 200 countries. Great list of filters also includes themes such as romantic or historic. Added value: Last minute deals. Customer Support by phone 24/7. Loyalty program – earn one free night for every 10 nights stayed in more than 85,000 partnering hotels worldwide.
What’s to like: HotelsCombined includes the actual hotel site when combing through the results found by 30 top sites, including Agoda, Booking.com, and Hilton. Added value: Trending hotel alerts and cheap hotel deals email.
What’s to like: Featured deal hotels on CheapOAir can be cheaper than even the mystery choices on Hotwire or Priceline. Comprehensive filters list includes theme hotels, but not the most visually appealing interface. Added value: Deal alerts for members (free email listing.) Mobile app provides a number of handy travel tools, including: currency converter, baggage fees, and thematic packing lists ranging from corporate to romantic. Customer Support by phone 24/7.
11.) Travel Zoo
What’s to like: Get the Deal Experts on Travel Zoo to find impressive savings on featured hotel deals. Multisite search engine pulls up listings on a variety of booking sites. Added value: Get local deals via email.
What’s to like: Hipmunk’s simple map interface makes it easy to search for hotels by location before linking to hotel or other search engine sites for purchases. The filters list is adequate, with added bonus that the hotel chains filter includes Airbnb. The beauty of Hipmunk is that although it will pull up as many properties as what can be found on TripAdvisor, its interactive map will only highlight a few at a time, which is great for zeroing in on where you want to stay. Added value: Pulls up TripAdvisor reviews.
13.) Room Key
What’s to like: Conduct the search on Room Key and book directly with the hotel. Searches draw on a database of partner hoteliers (Choice Hotels, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Wyndham) offering direct booking, as well as many more included for more accurate results. Very comprehensive list of filters even includes microwave, restaurant on site, and wedding planning services. Added value: Don’t miss out on loyalty points when you book directly with hotels.
14.) Hotel Tonight
What’s to like: Get an outstanding deal on same-day unsold luxury hotel inventory at Hotel Tonight, both online or on the app. Some availability up to a week in advance. Note that due to nature of this service, stock is limited as are filters and reviews. Best to use this in larger, more popular, destinations. Added value: 3D Map View; extra perks and credits with ongoing use.
What’s to like: Trivago compares prices of more than 1.8 million hotels in over 190 countries on over 400 booking sites. Clean interface with the usual filters, although not as comprehensive as others, it does include vacation homes. Added value: Inspirational travel magazine and attractive spokesperson.
What’s to like: With over 2 million properties worldwide Agoda listings cover the globe, with a special concentration in Asia, where it originated. Excellent set of search filters, with offerings including both hotel rooms and homes. Added value: Secret deals through Priceline intergration; PointsMAX loyalty program.
What’s to like: Colorful Momondo may well be the brightest of booking websites. After search, book hotel on one of a number of booking sites. Comprehensive filters list includes themes and amenities. Euro-centric, Momondo may be limited on US searches (although it was fine with our searches.) Added value: Inspirational travel guides for popular destinations. Best price guarantee (but only for UK customers.) Carryon bag checker.
What’s to like: Vayama.com is an online travel agency uniquely focused on international travel. In the US, it’s fine for researching hotels in popular destinations like New York City, but may be limited when looking up small American towns. Good set of filters with links to TripAdvisor reviews. Added value: 27/7 Customer Service, inspirational travel blog, deal newsletter.
Alternative Accommodations Travel Sites
- Airbnb – Unique accommodations and experiences in 192 countries; Airbnb Plus lists higher caliber homes.
- Hostel World – Search through listing of hostels and B&Bs. 36,000 properties in 170 countries.
- Hostlez.com – The world’s largest hostel database lists over 50,000 properties in nearly 8,000 cities.
- HomeAway – Part of the VRBO family, find vacation rentals worldwide.
- HouseTrip – holiday rentals with a protection plan.
- FlipKey – Over 170,000 vacation rental by TripAdvisor.
- Tripping.com – world’s largest vacation rental search engine for vacation homes and short-term rentals. With over 2.5 million properties in over 100,000 global destinations, Tripping.com makes it easy to compare prices and availability for millions of vacation rentals around the world from top travel sites including HomeAway, HouseTrip, FlipKey, Booking.com and more.
Additional Travel Sites To Consider When Researching Hotels
- Last Minute Travel – Last minute prices on a variety of travel products, including: hotels, flights, cruises, cars, vacation homes, and activities.
- Rocket Miles – Earn frequent flier miles when booking hotel stays.
- DealBase – Unbiased listings of thousands of hotel deals from the best hotels worldwide.
- Hotel Planner – Book meeting space, extended stays, and find group rates.