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As things around the world continue getting back to normal, people are looking forward to booking their postponed trips now more than ever before. With travel prices skyrocketing and the price of hotels increasing every day, comparing prices on the best hotel booking sites can help travelers find the best deal for budget-friendly holidays.
Our Top Picks for the Best Hotel Booking Sites:
|Largest Hotel Selections||Trivago||Review|
|Best for Vacation Packages||Expedia||Review|
|Best for Budget Travel||Hostelworld||Review|
|Best for Groups||AirBnB||Review|
|8 Honorable Mentions||Click here|
1. TripAdvisor (Best Overall)
Type: Metasearch engine
Although TripAdvisor is most well known for providing travelers with a variety of activity options in select destinations across the world, this metasearch engine has expanded to include hotel and other travel bookings in recent years. Their hotel search feature allows users to search their online database of more than 1.4 million hotels worldwide for the best variety when it comes to accommodation.
TripAdvisor brings users the latest in hotel accommodation at the click of a button and although rooms are still booked through third-party sites or via the hotel’s website, users have reported finding great deals on this site. Their website is easy to use and allows travelers to select a variety of customized filter options to find the best hotel for their needs.
Pros of Using TripAdvisor
- TripAdvisor has access to over 1.4 million hotels across the world, making it one of the best websites to compare prices for both domestic and international travel.
- Occasionally, TripAdvisor has found hotel fares lower than those advertised on the hotel booking site, offering some of the lowest prices for travelers when it comes to accommodation.
- Most trips can be refunded up to a day before travel (some restrictions apply).
- Tripadvisor has a great reputation when it comes to customer service.
Cons of Using TripAdvisor
- In recent years, TripAdvisor has received some negative feedback for paying for fraudulent consumer reviews that boost ratings for certain affiliate companies and hotels, causing users to question the validity of this site’s review base.
2. Trivago (Largest Hotel Selections)
Type: Metasearch engine
With over 600,000 hotels in its catalog, Trivago is the leading hotel search engine for vacationers looking to compare pricing on a variety of travel accommodations. When searching for hotels on Trivago, this metasearch engine provides access to 150 travel booking sites offering users the largest number of options for hotels all in one spot.
Their simple-to-use layout makes comparing prices a breeze and their convenient mobile application is great for busy travel planners. Comparing prices on hotel rooms is super simple and when customers are ready to book, they are directed to the hotel website or third-party booking site to complete their reservation.
Pros of Booking with Trivago
- Trivago has access to more booking sites than most other companies and offers users the most options when it comes to accommodation.
- The Trivago website offers a simple and easy-to-use layout design that highlights current deals and promotions in some of the top United States cities for travel.
- Very responsive customer service.
Cons of Booking with Trivago
- Reservations for rooms found on Trivago are directed to third-party sites or hotel websites and in-app booking is not allowed which offers customers very little coverage for things like reservation changes or cancelations.
- Hotel search results on Trivago may direct users to less-know booking sites that sometimes end up problematic for guests. Trivago applies strict verification to their partners but from time to time these cases still happen. Simply stick to more popular hotels & OTAS recommendations to avoid this issue.
3. Expedia (Best for Vacation Packages)
Type: Online Travel Agent
First started in 2001, Expedia has been a leading name in travel planning for more than 20 years. During that time, this online travel agent expanded its services to offer customers a one-stop shop for all things travel-related.
Their “fully refundable” filter allows you to easily choose hotels with free cancelation up to 24 hours before your trip. This means no cancelation fee will be charged and you’ll get all your money back. It’s a very useful feature for travelers with dynamic schedules.
In addition to booking hotels, Expedia users can easily plan all aspects of a vacation while enjoying special offers on last-minute deals, customer coupons, and a generous reward program. Their site makes it simple and easy to search for hotels with a variety of filters, like guest rating, star rating, property type, and neighborhood. This allows customers to choose the very best hotel for their needs.
Their “Vacation Package” provides bundled offers of flight, hotel, and even car rental with discounts and option to pay in installments.
Customers can enjoy a variety of payment methods to fund their trip, including Bitcoin. Loyal Expedia customers can sign up for their Expedia Rewards credit card offered through Citi bank to earn points and cashback for travel.
Pros of Booking with Expedia
- Vacation Package feature allows you to book everything in one go.
- Expedia offers free cancelation up to 24 hours before your trip with no additional fees on hotels with “fully refundable” note on its details.
- This hotel booking site offers some of the most generous discounts and loyalty programs with up to 25% savings and double points earned on hotels booked through their mobile app.
- Many luxury hotels are available so that customers can get a good deal on luxury stays.
Cons of Booking with Expedia
- Huge amount of ads making it a bit of a challenge to navigate the website.
- Users have reported that prices on Expedia may sometimes be higher than rates offered when booking directly through the hotel website, although prices from competitor sites are often comparable.
4. Hostelworld (Best for Budget Travel)
Type: Online Travel Agent
Although staying in a hostel is not everyone’s cup of tea, budget travelers looking for shared accommodation can find plenty of options with Hostelworld. This simple travel booking website and mobile application connect travelers to hostels all across the world with access to 36,000 properties in 178 countries around the world.
Their easy-to-use mobile application allows users to plug in their desired location, property type, room specifications, number of beds, facilities, and more. Once all filters have been applied, results will be displayed from lowest to highest price and the site will display reviews from previous travelers to provide future travelers with all the information they need before booking.
Pros of Booking with Hostelworld
- Hostelworld is one of the best budget friendly accommodation services on the market and travelers looking for an inexpensive holiday can stretch their dollars by saving tons of money with hostel accommodations.
- This site has access to thousands of properties all across the world, making it a fantastic resource for international travelers and backpackers.
- Hostelworld has other great functions in the app, like the ability to chat with other people staying in the same hostel!
Cons of Booking with Hostelworld
- Hostelworld is a website tailored specifically to hostel guests, so visitors are unable to book stays at resorts or luxury accommodations.
- Hostelworld users do not receive any reward points or access to loyalty programs and special discounts are rare due to the already low prices.
5. Airbnb (Bet for Groups)
Type: Online Travel Agent
Although Airbnb is a bit different from typical hotel booking sites, this online vacation booking marketplace is a great place to find unique rental properties for a fraction of the price of traditional hotels or vacation rentals. This site features a variety of housing including budget friendly shared living, luxury accommodation, one of a kind housing, and more.
Airbnb is a great option for groups or families traveling together, as many of the options listed are whole homes, cabins, or other accommodations instead of just a room. Customers can use the filters to search for whole homes and add the number of people traveling so that the best results for the group are listed.
Although Airbnb does partner with well known affiliate companies, this site is most known for its privately owned and operated accommodation options. In addition to lodging options, this website also includes options for additional tourism activities to be added to any booking for a one stop shop when it comes to booking a vacation.
Pros of Booking with Airbnb
- Airbnb offers travelers a whole host of unique travel accommodations and experiences for vacationers looking for a memorable experience that is different from traditional hotel or resort stays.
- Because Airbnb allows property owners to list accommodation independently, prices are often lower than hotels or resorts and can be a great alternative to traditional hotels, especially when booking long term travel.
Cons of Booking with Airbnb
- This travel marketplace site often charges high service fees including cleaning fees, booking fees, taxes, and more that are not displayed in the initial booking price so users are often faced with a much higher rate for booking than originally anticipated.
- You can’t expect a ‘standard’ like you do with hotel brands since every property owner has their own standard in running things.
Type: Online Travel Agent
For more than 20 years, Hotwire has been bringing users some of the best deals on hotels, flights, and vacation packages around the world. As part of parent company Expedia, Hotwire is an online travel agent with access to thousands of hotel deals worldwide that consistently provide users with some of the hottest deals on lodging.
Hotwire is available for use as an online booking agent or through their convenient mobile application and users have access to tons of great benefits like their price watch email alerts, “hidden deals,” membership loyalty points, and deals on unsold rooms. In addition to booking hotel rooms, Hotwire provides users a one stop shop for all their travel related needs with car rental, flights, and more all on one convenient and easy to use site.
Pros of Using Hotwire
- In addition to hotel rooms, Hotwire offers deals and booking on rental cars, vacation packages, activities, flights, and more for an all inclusive vacation experience.
- Travelers booking on Hotwire have access to multiple user reviews from previous visitors so they know they are getting the best experience when choosing a particular hotel.
Cons of Using Hotwire
- Although Hotwire has access to a large number of hotel rooms across the country, this booking site is not always the best when it comes to booking high end travel accommodation.
- Users have reported that the initial room price displayed in search results typically increases when customers complete the steps to finalize their booking due to hidden fees and taxes.
- Because Hotwire is a third party booking site, most deals are non-refundable outside of the 24 hour cancellation window.
Type: Online Travel Agent
As one of the top travel booking websites around, travelers can rest assured they’ll be getting a great deal when booking a hotel with Priceline. For more than 25 years, Priceline has been partnering with well established accommodation providers to bring travelers high quality accommodations at affordable prices.
For the best prices on hotels, customers can check out their new Pricebreakers option that allows customers to view three popular hotels at discounted rates, but the details of the hotel remain a surprise until the time of booking. Although some customers prefer to have all the details of where they will be staying, this option can be a great way to save some big bucks on accommodation.
Priceline often offers hotel deals like discounts on last minute bookings, vacation packages, and special VIP pricing for loyalty club members. Avid travelers can sign up for a Priceline Rewards Visa credit card to receive points on everyday items like groceries and gas that can be used toward future bookings.
Pros of Booking with Priceline
- Priceline has some of the lowest prices on hotel deals due to exclusive offers and strong affiliate relationships.
- Customers have the option of opening a Priceline Rewards Visa account for exclusive savings and offers for credit card holders.
Cons of Booking with Priceline
- Priceline often has very strict refund policies and it can be nearly impossible for customers to receive refunds on booked vacations.
- Priceline does not allow customers to book hotel rooms for multiple dates during one booking, making it difficult for large groups or families to coordinate travel plans.
Type: Online Travel Agent
For users looking to book a hotel room within the US, this online travel agent makes it easy to book deals with major hotel chains across the country. Although this platform doesn’t offer much in terms of international travel, their list of affiliate hotels based in the US is long and offers affordable pricing options to travelers.
In addition to hotels, this OTA has recently added vacation property rentals as well as apartments to their repertoire. Hotels.com offers a wide range of filtering capabilities for users looking for specific hotel options including price ranges, special features, popular destinations, and more.
Pros of Booking with Hotels.com
- Hotels.com offers a generous reward program where customers who book 10 nights through the website can get their 11th night for free.
- Customers can use gift cards to help pay for hotel stays and they make the perfect gift for avid travelers.
Cons of Booking with Hotels.com
While Hotels.com offers a large directory of affiliate hotels, the prices offered through this OTA are often comparable to other major booking sites as well as hotel websites.
Type: Online Travel Agent
For years, this OTA has consistently provided users with access to massive numbers of hotel rooms, with more than 1.5 million listings for accommodations worldwide. Although their prices are less competitive than in previous years, Booking.com is still a leader in the travel industry with a mixture of privately owned properties as well as affiliate hotels and resorts available.
As the #1 most visited booking site, Booking.com maintains transparency with their customers by offering unsolicited visitor reviews from previous guests and 24 hour exemplary customer service offered through a multitude of communication channels.
Pros of Using Booking.com
- This website allows users to book advance accommodation without having to pay for bookings up front.
- Booking.com provides excellent customer service and a generous refund policy on canceled bookings. Here’s how easy it is to cancel a reservation in Booking.com.
- Users report that Booking.com is one of the best online search engines for finding and booking business travel accommodations with plenty of destinations in close proximity to large cities and busy business centers.
Cons of Using Booking.com
Although Booking.com offers a large variety of premier destination locations, the location of hotels is often outside the city limits, making it difficult for visitors to reach popular tourist attractions.
Type: Metasearch engine
As part of the Priceline group, this well known travel metasearch consistently finds travelers some of the lowest prices on hotels, flights, car rentals, vacation packages, and more. Their simple and easy to use booking site allows users to select a variety of filters for their specific needs and includes taxes and fees in the pricing (when selecting this option during searches) so there are no hidden fees that pop up at the time of booking.
Kayak.com offers users a variety of money saving features like their Price Alert deal tracker, recommendations for travel to nearby locations, and special pricing on popular destinations. On their website, users can find advertisements for vacation deals or utilize their special features for finding trips based on price range, location, and trip duration for some unique travel inspiration or themed trip itineraries.
Pros of Booking with Kayak.com
- Kayak.com offers a variety of money saving features like price alert emails, tax and fees inclusive pricing, flexible dates option, and more.
- When searching for hotels, Kayak.com offers a wide variety of filtering options as well as searches that lead travelers directly to the hotel booking website.
Cons of Booking with Kayak.com
- Bookings made with this website are made through third party affiliates so travelers are at the mercy of other companies when it comes to customer service, cancellations, or refunds.
- Prices on Kayak.com may not always be the lowest and they have a smaller catalog of lodging options than some other metasearch engine competitors.
Type: Online Travel Agent
Although this online travel agent may not be as well known as some of the competitor sites, Agoda has been making its way to the top of the list as one of the best hotel booking sites on the market in recent years. Agoda has been found to consistently offer some of the lowest prices on lodging around the world and travelers looking to save a pretty penny can find some amazing deals either online or through their mobile app.
Although this OTA has been slammed for its lack of customer service, the company is taking steps to rectify these issues such as offering 24/7 customer service availability, free cancellations, and more. Users can easily search their database of over 825,000 properties worldwide and take advantage of their “Secret Deals” which offer special discounts for travelers that choose a hotel based solely on the location and star rating.
Pros of Booking with Agoda
- Agoda offers some of the lowest prices on accommodation for travelers with options like their Secret Deals feature and other money saving options.
- This site offers a large variety of lodging with options ranging from shared accommodations and apartments to luxury resort villas and vacation homes.
- Agoda is one of the leading hotel booking sites for international travel with tons of options for lodging in Mexico, Asia, and other cities and countries across the world.
Cons of Booking with Agoda
- Customer service at Agoda has been historically poor and travelers looking to receive refunds or credits for cancellations may find that their customer satisfaction ratings fall short when compared to other online travel agents.
- Customers may feel bombarded with marketing ploys and scarcity tactics when searching for rooms on Agoda’s website.
Type: Metasearch engine
Although this metasearch engine has been around for many years, it often doesn’t make it onto traditional “Top 10” lists for some reason. Although HotelsCombined is often left out when compared to its competitor search sites, it actually has plenty of features that make for some stiff competition among competitors.
Touted as having one of the highest filtering capabilities on the market, HotelsCombined allows users to personalize search options across a variety of categories including hotel style, amenities, freebies, property types, and more. With over 2 million listings worldwide, there’s something for everyone working with any budget. Additionally, results can be displayed with or without taxes and fees and receive email alerts with their price tracking feature.
Pros of Booking with HotelsCombined
- HotelsCombined has a catalog of over 2 million listings so travelers have a wide variety of accommodation options to choose from.
- This metasearch engine offers some of the best filters in the industry for users to find exactly the type of accommodation they are looking for.
Cons of Booking with HotelsCombined
Users report not having access to as many results as seen with other competitors and sometimes quoted prices were not actually available at the time of booking.
Type: Metasearch engine
While Google Hotels may not be as popular as their flight booking sister site, this metasearch engine is one of the top competitors when it comes to finding great deals on hotels. Like Google Flights, this hotel booking site offers users an intuitive interface, tons of hotel options, and some of the best in class prices around.
Results are displayed in list form, but their map tool makes it easy for users to pinpoint their desired location for a personalized booking experience. Although some other sites offer more filters than Google Hotels, their low prices and variety of accommodations more than make up for the minimal filters.
Pros of Booking with Google Hotels
- Google Hotels is one of the leading competitors when it comes to finding low prices on accommodations across the world.
- This site’s navigation and map tools make it easy for travelers to find the exact right location for booking their vacation stay.
Cons of Booking with Google Hotels
When filtering search results, Google Hotels often lists sponsored properties or advertisements first, but these results are clearly marked as such.
The Difference Between Metasearch Engines and OTAs
Before beginning to look at booking online travel, it is important for travelers to know the difference between a metasearch engine and an online travel agent, or OTA. Both business models can be included in top hotel websites but there’s a significant difference. While both of these search options offer users details and information on hotels and travel, the main difference is that metasearch engines display a more comprehensive list of results, but can only be utilized for comparing prices, not booking actual flights.
When using a metasearch engine, users who have found the best flight or hotel deal for their budget can select the option via the search engine, but will then be directed to either the airline or company website or a third party travel booking site like an OTA to finalize their booking. Metasearch engines can be a valuable tool for users to find and compare the best prices as they search across multiple platforms, but online travel agents do all the leg work when it comes to actually booking a vacation.
A Word About Booking Directly Through the Hotel Website
Although it may seem old fashioned to some, booking hotel rooms directly through the hotel’s website or over the phone is still one of the best ways for travelers to take advantage of certain benefits like loyalty programs, special discounts, and more. In addition to saving money on travel, most well-known hotel chains provide a higher standard of customer services for clients booking rooms directly through the company versus through a third party booking site.
Benefits of Booking Direct
Hotel Reward Points and Loyalty Programs
The goal of most major hotel chains is to make their customers happy. One way these companies strive to keep repeat customers happy is through offering generous loyalty programs. Through these programs, customers set up a free hotel rewards account with a certain hotel chain that collects points each time the customer books a stay with that hotel.
While these points may sometimes be available to customers when booking through third party websites, this perk is generally reserved for customers who book rooms directly through the hotel’s website.
Improved Customer Service for Unsatisfactory Accommodation or Cancellations
When booking directly with the hotel, customers tend to have an advantage in the event that they face a cancellation or complications with their stay as the goal of most hotels is to keep their customers happy so that they will continue to make future bookings with the company. For customers that have to cancel or delay their travel plans for unforeseen circumstances, hotels will often strive to reschedule travelers or potentially offer refunds, free stay vouchers, and more to keep customers satisfied.
Pro Tips on Finding the Best Hotel Deals
Although utilizing some of the top hotel search engines is a great way to save money on bookings, travelers can save even more by using these simple tips and tricks to save big bucks.
Apply for Hotel and Travel Agency Credit Cards
Almost all major hotel chains and online travel agencies offer credit cards that can earn customers hefty rewards when it comes to travel. Avid travelers looking to save big bucks should consider applying for a line of credit from hotels like Hilton and Marriott or online travel companies like Priceline or Expedia to enjoy perks like discounted hotel rates, complimentary upgrades, free stays, and more.
For first time applicants, most credit cards offer free introductory reward points that can be used towards a future booking after spending a certain amount of money using the card within the first three months after the card is issued. After the initial bonus, users can continue to earn reward points on everyday purchases like groceries, gas, and more.
Skip the Travel Insurance
Although purchasing travel insurance can make some travelers feel at ease, the majority of travel insurance providers make it nearly impossible to file a claim in the event that a trip must be canceled or postponed. With the cost for most travel insurance plans being between 5-6% of the total ticket price, travelers can generally skip over purchasing travel insurance and put their money towards other things. For travelers concerned about running the risk of illness in another country, purchasing short or long term international health insurance is a much better option for avid travelers looking to gain some peace of mind.
Do not Be Afraid to Book!
While we certainly understand that it may be tempting to keep waiting for the absolute lowest price on hotel rooms, waiting too long to book may actually do more harm than good when it comes to booking travel. Although prices for hotels fluctuate daily, special deals and discounts are available seven days a week and travelers who find a good deal shouldn’t wait to book as the price will likely increase the longer you wait.
Travelers are encouraged to book accommodation in their price range once room prices drop below average as prices fluctuate often and tend to change quickly. If a price seems too good to be true, book immediately! Read here for more about best day and time to book a hotel room.
By utilizing many of the online search engine features like price alerts, recommended travel destinations, loyalty programs, and more travelers can rest assured they are always getting a fair deal on their hotel room.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
When you book a hotel online when are you charged?
Most of the time you get charged immediately but some sites provide leniency to let you book the room and pay a few days before the actual date with option to cancel before that.
Is it better to call a hotel or book online?
Most of the time it’s better to book online, it’s more convenient and you can get better deal. However as explained above you might be eligible for certain perks such as reward points if you’re a member of their loyalty program.
How do hotel booking sites work?
Hotel booking sites partnered with many hotels and have the right to rent a certain number of rooms on those hotels. This is why sometimes you might find rooms unavailable in one site while still available in other sites.
Are hotel booking sites reliable?
Hotel booking sites are inherently business and naturally depending on the management some can be unreliable. But if you at the very least stick to the sites listed in this article, you’re in safe hands.
With so many options for booking online travel, it is easy to get overwhelmed when trying to find the best deal on accommodation. For travelers who are ready and willing to put in a little effort when it comes to booking their own vacation, these top travel sites can offer some of the steepest discounts around for vacationers looking to book a memorable once in a lifetime getaway.
Looking for flights next? Check our best flight booking sites list!
Also contributing: Amanda Lawrence