When it comes to hotel booking websites, the options available today are virtually endless. While having a plethora of choices for comparing prices, amenities, and other hotel perks is undoubtedly a good thing, it can sometimes be overwhelming to figure out where to begin.
Whether you’re in search of a hotel search engine with endless filters and sorting options or a straightforward interface for booking hotels online, the possibilities are diverse. Perhaps you’re specifically looking for the best websites to book hotels in Asia, or accommodations that are LGBTQIA-friendly.
Booking.com: The Global Titan of Hotel Reservations
Booking.com stands as the world’s largest hotel booking website, boasting over 28 million properties, including hotels, resorts, vacation homes, apartments, and many unique lodgings. Even if you’re not a fervent traveler, you’ve likely heard of Booking.com due to its extensive array of accommodation options.
With a presence in over 40 languages, Booking.com offers dedicated 24/7 customer support and an impressive low-price guarantee. If you book a property and later find a lower price on another website, Booking.com will refund the difference at least 24 hours before your check-in.
After your second booking, you automatically become a Booking.com Genius, unlocking various additional benefits such as room discounts and upgrades. The more you book, the more you save on your next hotel stay.
One of my personal favorite features of Booking.com is its highly customizable search function. You can conduct broad destination searches, explore nearby options, or dive deep into specific areas using the map feature. Numerous filters allow you to refine your search based on hotel star ratings, included amenities, price, or specific hotel chains.
Hotels.com: The Runner-Up in Hotel Booking Websites
While Hotels.com doesn’t have as many listings as Booking.com, with over 300,000 properties in 19,000+ locations worldwide, it still offers a substantial selection. From luxury hotels to youth hostel dorms and vacation apartments, Hotels.com caters to diverse preferences.
In terms of rewards programs, Hotels.com excels. Starting at the base level, you can unlock secret prices and earn a free night’s stay for every 10 nights booked. Progressing to Hotels.com Rewards Silver and Gold, you can enjoy free room upgrades after booking 30 nights, along with guaranteed late check-out or early check-in at specific hotels.
The best part? No membership fees. Simply book your accommodation and progressively elevate your rewards level.
I highly recommend using their app. Hotels.com often provides up to a 40% discount when searching for hotels for same-day check-ins through their app. It’s user-friendly and well worth the time to find a great hotel deal.
Hostelworld: The Premier Youth Hostel Booking Website
Hostelworld has consistently been my go-to for reserving hostel beds, and it rarely disappoints. It seems like every youth hostel worldwide is listed on this site, making it easy to find something that suits your preferences.
Customer reviews on Hostelworld are exceptionally useful. In fact, I seldom book a hostel through Hostelworld without checking ratings and reviews. The feedback is typically accurate, helping you know what to expect before arrival.
Affordable hostel beds shouldn’t mean dingy accommodations or noisy common areas – you still want value for your money. Hostelworld’s ratings cover aspects like safety, service, location, and atmosphere, providing a clear understanding of what you’ll get.
Their customer service is also excellent. If you find a cheaper hostel elsewhere, they’ll refund the difference, and you can cancel within 24 hours before check-in without losing your deposit. For all these reasons, I’m a loyal fan of Hostelworld!
Vrbo: The Ultimate Vacation Rental Website
Vrbo, short for Vacation Rentals By Owner, stands out as a fundamental departure from hotel booking websites – you book directly from private property owners. While Vrbo doesn’t list individual hotel rooms, you can find almost every other type of accommodation, from spacious beachfront apartments to city condos and mountaintop cabins.
Most people think of Airbnb when booking vacation rentals, but after delving deeper, I found that Vrbo’s customer service far exceeds Airbnb’s, thanks to its 24/7 customer support (which Airbnb almost lacks). Vrbo also offers a “Book With Confidence” guarantee, ensuring you get free cancellation insurance even if you cancel last minute.
Vrbo provides the best deals on vacation rentals, with lower service fees. Unlike Airbnb, which sometimes incurs additional taxes, Vrbo remains unaffected by extra taxes. For instance, in certain places, due to regulations on overtourism, Airbnb automatically charges occupancy taxes (apparently some authorities perceive Vrbo as less of a threat to overtourism than Airbnb). Overall, Vrbo is my top choice for booking vacation rentals.
Skyscanner: The Top Hotel Deal Website
Skyscanner is notorious for having the best deals on flights, but did you know they also offer top-notch hotel prices? Setting itself apart from other hotel websites, Skyscanner focuses on budget hotel deals, special sales, and exclusive discounts, excelling at finding last-minute bargains.
For those seeking affordable hotel rooms, I recommend downloading the Skyscanner app. You can filter search results, finding hotels within your budget or opting for the “show only discounts” feature. Here’s a pro tip: you can search for non-refundable rooms to find the best hotel prices. If you’re certain about your travel dates, this is a great option.
Another aspect I appreciate about Skyscanner is that when you search for hotel accommodations, the results also display the total cost of the entire trip (excluding taxes and fees). It’s a great way to have a clear understanding of your overall travel budget if, like me, you enjoy crunching the numbers.