Best Hotel Booking SitesReviewAdvice

Best Hotel Booking Site for 2016

What is the best site to book hotels? We list our top picks

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Best Site to Book Hotels

The best hotel booking site lets you find a comfortable and affordable place to stay. Every year, nearly 150 million travel bookings are made online. That's more than half of all travel arrangements.

Since so many people are planning and booking their hotels online, there's a lot riding on the best hotel booking sites. When looking for the best booking sites, I looked not only at price but also at hotel choice and quality. My top picks are Priceline, Hotels.com, and Booking.com.

Best Hotel Booking Websites: What to Consider

Hotel booking sites can save you a lot of money but choosing the right one is important. Here are some things to look out for while you are researching affordable rooms.

  • Does the listed price include taxes and fees? Some listings are deceptive and will only include the tax right before you're about to book.
  • Are the listed prices per person? Some hotel reservation sites show lower rates but that is assuming you are splitting the costs with others.
  • Does the site offer bundles? You can sometimes save by booking hotels bundled with other travel expenses like rental cars and flights.
  • Is the site mobile friendly? More and more people are booking hotels on mobile devices, according to research from Google. The easier the site is to use on a mobile device, the happier you'll be.
  • Do the hotel bookings offer rewards programs? If you are a frequent traveler this could be worth looking into.

Booking a hotel no longer means working with a real, live travel agent or calling several hotels to ask about rates and reservations. You can now go online quickly and easily and get a bunch of quotes from a number of hotels, all at once. Some hotel sites even give you better deals for going through their phone apps and online resources than they would if you called them.

Tips for Getting the Most out of the Best Hotel Websites

Travel is becoming more and more popular. According to Conde Nast Traveler, more Americans traveled abroad in 2015 than ever before. Since more of us are traveling and since the travel planning landscape has changed so much, it's helpful to know how to get the most out the best hotel booking websites.

Many of the best hotel websites offer a number of tools and services to improve your search, to help you save the most money and to help you find a hotel that actually meets your needs. Here are a few ways you can maximize your booking experience.

Check for Daily Deals

When I looked, a few of the best hotel booking sites offered special, limited time deals. If you don't have a specific place in mind for traveling, checking out the specials or deals available can help you get a fun vacation at a great price.

For example, a site might be offering five nights in a hotel in Iceland for $250 per person or a special on week-long trips to Spain for just $500. If you've got the urge to travel, but need a bit of inspiration, checking out daily specials or limited time deals can help you plan the perfect trip while saving money.

Combine Services

Vacation packages are commonly offered by several of the best hotel booking sites. These packages usually give you a better rate when you book airfare and hotel, or airfare, hotel and car rental all at the same time.

Combining services or booking a vacation package at one of the best hotel websites takes the stress out of planning a trip. You no longer have to worry about finding a hotel for all the nights you'll be traveling or about finding plane fare the coincides with the dates you booked at the hotel.

Vacation packages do take some of the flexibility out of arranging your trip. For example, you're limited to one hotel for the duration of the vacation, which is fine if you plan on staying in one place. It's less convenient if you had hoped to travel from city to city on your journey.

Look for Last Minute Offers

Sometimes, really good things happen to those who wait. Although people often recommend booking a hotel way in advance, you can sometimes nab a great deal if you put things off. Check out the last minute deals section of the hotel booking site to see if has anything on offer.

Keep in mind that's best to save last minute deals for spontaneous trips. If you've been planning on travel to Paris for New Year's for a while, don't wait until the last minute to book your room. But, if you're looking to take a quick, unplanned weekend getaway in a few days, the last minute section of a booking site can come in handy.

6 Ways to Save Money with the Best Hotel Websites

The best hotel booking sites will give you a great deal on a hotel, without you having to do much work. But there are a few other ways to save money on the cost of a hotel.

1. Be Flexible About Dates

You might save a fair chunk of change if you stay at a hotel Sunday through Tuesday rather than Friday to Sunday. If you have the ability to be flexible, you can get the best rate on a hotel room.

2. Travel During Shoulder or Off Peak Season

Everyone wants to go to the Caribbean in December and Europe in the summer. You'll avoid the crowds and get a better deal on a hotel room if you travel during less busy, off-peak or shoulder seasons.

3. Be Surprised

Some of the best hotel booking sites offer surprise deals. You can get a great price on a hotel. The only catch is that you don't where you're staying until you've booked. If you don't mind a bit of guessing or aren't terribly picky about your hotel, booking a surprise deal can be worth the savings.

4. Show Some Loyalty

Although jumping from one of the best hotel booking sites to another can mean you save money each time you travel, signing up for a loyalty program or credit card that gives you points can also help you save money.

5. Be Aware of Hidden Fees

Some hotels can be pretty sneaky when it comes to fees. Before you drink that bottle of water that's on the nightstand, make sure it was included in the price you paid up front. You also want to make sure breakfast is included, that you don't have to pay extra to use the gym or pool, and that you don't have to pay for parking.

6. Double Discount

Being a member of certain organizations, such as AAA, means you can get an additional discount on hotels. Check to make sure the hotel website honors those discounts or if you can apply the discount when you check in.

The Best Hotel Sites

Hotels.com Review

  • Pros
  • Great vacation packages
  • No fees for cancellations or changes
  • Get free nights at certain hotels
  • Plenty of deals and savings opportunities
  • Helpful assistance when traveling with a large group
  • Cons
  • Listed prices are deceiving because they do not include tax

Hotels.com is the hotel focused affiliate of Expedia. It has the same resources and clout as Expedia, with a specific focus on hotels. Although, hotels are the main emphasis of the site, you can book activities, flights and rental cars too. You can also combine bookings in the form of vacation packages to save money on your total trip.

You have several ways to save money with Hotels.com. The Deal of the Day section offers up to 50% off and the Last Minute Savings section is the perfect place to find great deals when you are trying to book a room with just days to spare.

This site does not include taxes in the price listings, which can lead to sticker shock when you check out.

Hotels.com is a great place to book hotels or entire vacation packages and the opportunities for deals make it more likely for you to get a great price.

Hotels.com is the hotel focused affiliate of Expedia. It has the same resources and clout as Expedia, with a specific focus on hotels. Although, hotels are the main emphasis of the site, you can book activities, flights and rental cars too. You can also combine bookings in the form of vacation packages to save money on your total trip.

You have several ways to save money with Hotels.com. The Deal of the Day section offers up to 50% off and the Last Minute Savings section is the perfect place to find great deals when you are trying to book a room with just days to spare. This site does not include taxes in the price listings, which can lead to sticker shock when you check out.

Hotels.com is a great place to book hotels or entire vacation packages and the opportunities for deals make it more likely for you to get a great price.

Booking.com Review

  • Pros
  • Great vacation packages
  • Variety of deals and locations
  • Search by theme function
  • Excellent phone and tablet apps
  • Exclusive deals for members
  • Cons
  • Listed prices are deceiving because they do not include tax

Booking.com is an affiliate of Priceline and has several similar features along with a few unique twists. One interesting aspect of the site is the browse by destination theme option. You can choose to search for trips that fit into specific categories like business, sight-seeing, shopping, beach and more.

If you have an idea of what type of trip you'd like to take browsing specific themes can give you inspiration and help you iron out the specifics.

There are deals on hotels and all other kinds of accommodations like hostels, villas and resorts. Plus, if you sign up for a membership you can gain access to exclusive deals that aren't available elsewhere, starting at 20% off.

Booking.com has an excellent tablet and phone app and it's easy to access your account from a number of devices.

Again, be careful when browsing listed prices. Booking.com doesn't list tax until it's time to check out.

Booking.com has interesting features that can be a big help in vacation planning and the fact that you can book more than just typical hotels is a unique aspect worth investigating.

Hotwire.com Review

  • Pros
  • Lowest average prices
  • Hot Rate Hotel Deals
  • Vacation packages available
  • Good reputation with BBB
  • Cons
  • No loyalty program
  • Doesn't let you save searches
  • Taxes not added until you check out

Hotwire offers many of the same features as the other best hotel booking sites. But, it tends to offer the lowest per-night prices on average.

One of its special features is the Hot Rate Hotel Deal. You can choose a hotel in a specific area of the city or destination you're traveling to, for a reduced rate. Although the site doesn't tell you the name of the hotel until you've booked, it gives you the star rating and tells you the name of the hotel the person who booked before you got.

You can save money with Hotwire by booking multiple components of your trip together, such as hotel and flight or car rental and hotel. As with a few other hotel booking sites, Hotwire doesn't include taxes with the listings. Instead, it includes taxes and fees on the final checkout page, so you end up paying more than expected.

Priceline Review

  • Pros
  • Unique and Helpful Name Your Price Tool
  • Great last minute savings and "Express Deals"
  • Excellent search tools
  • Exclusive deals and rewards for members
  • Great vacation packages
  • Cons
  • Listed prices are deceiving because they do not include tax

Priceline is a top travel site with an excellent reputation, and according to JD Power, customers who used the site tend to have a high degree of satisfaction.

One of the most unique features this site has to offer is the Name Your Price tool, which allows you to search and bid for hotels or vacation packages based on your own price range. You choose the dates and areas you want to stay in and bid on hotels based on your budget.

You will only know the areas you are bidding on, you won't be able to see the specific details unless you win. You won't necessarily get stuck in a flea-ridden hotel, though. You can list the lowest star rating you're willing to stay in and Priceline uses that info to pick the right hotel for you.

Besides the bidding tool, there are several other ways to save on Priceline. The Express Deals section lets you book hotels offering limited time deals. Before you book you can only see the area and the amenities offered, and the specific hotel is revealed afterwards. Again, be sure to check the star rating.

If you want to sign up to become a Priceline member you can gain access to exclusive deals not visible to non-members. The site also offers vacation packages, which help you save money when you combine hotel, flight and/or car rentals.

Taxes are not included with the price listing. Make sure you know what you are actually paying before you book.

Although you might end up paying more than expected once taxes are added in, Priceline's excellent features and reputation for customer satisfaction make it a great top choice.

Trivago.com Review

  • Pros
  • Lets you compare offers from more than 250 sites
  • Easy to use search filters
  • Helps you be sure you're getting the best deals
  • Cons
  • Not an actual booking site
  • Only provides information for hotels

Trivago isn't like the other best hotel booking sites. For one thing, it isn't really a booking site.

Instead, it's a price comparison tool that scours all of the other booking sites out there, allowing you to easily compare prices and find the hotel that's just right for you.

The site offers a variety of search filters, so that you can find a hotel that exactly meets your needs. Along with providing the city and your dates of travel, you can specify the features you want from a hotel, whether you want it to be near transit or the beach, and what amenities you need to have in a hotel (such as free breakfast).

Once you find a hotel that checks all of your boxes, you click on "View Deal" and Trivago sends you to the booking site that offers the lowest price.

Although Trivago is very useful for getting the best price on hotels, it doesn't offer any other travel services. You can't find airfares or car rentals on it, for example.

The Best Time to Book a Hotel

Is timing that important when booking a hotel room? You might have heard that the best time to book a flight is 54 days before you leave. But does it matter when you book your hotel room?

Things aren't nearly so exact when it comes to getting a hotel room for a great price. You should usually book in advance, that way you aren't left scrambling for a place to stay. You can also spend plenty of time comparison shopping if you book in advance. You also have time to call the hotel directly and ask for specific deals or if it can give you a discount.

But there can sometimes be deals to be had if you wait to book until the last minute. It's all about the level of risk you can tolerate. If you think it's worth to take a chance and wait until right before your trip to book a place, give it a shot. But for lots of people, booking in advance and having the peace of mind that they've got a comfy place to stay is worth paying a bit more for.

The Best Hotel Website vs. Other Options

Do you even want or need to stay in a hotel when you travel? There are a lot of other options these days, such as AirBnB, Couchsurfing, and hostels. Before you book at the best hotel website, it helps to be sure you're making the right choice.

AirBnB

AirBnB lets you book a room in someone's home or lets you rent an entire home or apartment for your entire stay. It can be cheaper than your typical hotel, depending on your preferences, or it can be considerably more expensive.

You can get a sense for the quality of the accommodations and whether you'll have a pleasant stay or not by looking at the reviews left by past travelers. Pictures posted by the hosts can also give you an idea about how clean the room or home is and what amenities or features it has to offer.

If you want to live like a local while traveling, AirBnB can be a good option. But if you want the anonymity and full services offered by a hotel, finding the best online hotel booking sites is going to be your better pick.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is somewhat similar to AirBnB but much less formal. If you are just looking for somewhere to crash while you travel, it can be a great way to save money and to meet others.

Couchsurfing is free. But, you might find that you get what you pay for, as you can end up sleeping on a couch or air mattress in a stranger's home. It might be an option best left to the really adventurous or to people who want to spend the least amount of money possible when traveling.

Hostels

Hostels can be much cheaper than hotels. Usually thought of as an option for student or extreme budget travelers, they can be a good pick for families or older, solo travelers too.

You can get a private room or a shared double room at a hostel. But part of the fun or experience of it is booking a bed in a multi-person dorm room and getting to know others who are also passing through. If that's not your thing, you might prefer to shell out of a hotel room, even if the cost is a little bit higher.

Best Hotel Booking Site Recap

Don't pay more than you need to for a hotel. The best hotel booking sites show you the best rates and help you plan an affordable vacation, no matter where you plan on traveling.

Even if you get the best deal on your hotel and other travel related expenses, the unexpected can happen. Travel insurance helps you protect your investment and get your money back in case you need to cancel your travel plans. Check out my review of the best travel insurance companies to find the policy that offers the most bang for your buck.

If you are going to travel frequently, getting a travel rewards credit card can help you save even more money. Many cards offer miles or travel credits for every dollar you spend on the card. To find the one with biggest rewards and lowest fees, check out my review of the best travel credit cards.

Vacations are meant to be fun. Using the best site to book hotels takes the stress out of trip planning and gives you a chance to really relax and unwind.

Best Hotel Booking Site FAQs

Do you always need a credit card to book a hotel?

Generally, a credit card is required to make a reservation but some hotels allow you to use debit cards or even cash. However, hotels like that are few and far between and if you are using a travel site to book your hotel then a credit card will probably be required. Besides, using cash or debit cards can be risky because if a mistake is made while booking or if you have to cancel your trip it is easier to get your credit card reimbursed.

Should I book in advance if the trip might be delayed?

If there is a certain risk that a trip you are planning will be canceled or delayed you may want to think twice about booking or paying for rooms in advance. Many hotels and booking sites charge a fee for cancellations. In the worst cases, you may not even get the full refund. However, there are a few sites that fully reimburse canceled trips without charging a fee. Always check a booking site's policies before you book.

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In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

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Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.

Advertiser Disclosure

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.