Why It’s Time to Change Your Hotel Booking Site

There are tons of websites out there that help you get the best flight deals. Scott’s Cheap Flights, Skyscanner, and Kayak are my favorites. People spend a lot of time and effort (me included) in getting the best flight deal. However, when it comes to hotels, people rely mainly on what their favorite hotel booking site offers them (or book directly through the hotel – which I don’t recommend, but I’m getting to that later). That’s fine, however, there are a few tips and tricks to consider when you book through your favorite booking site or finding a new one. Apart from that, the hotel booking industry is changing very fast, and the online travel agency (OTA) that you’re used to and have been using for years, might not be the best one anymore. That’s why I’ve put together the best hotel booking sites.

 


10 Best Hotel Booking Sites to Save Money in 2020

Here is a quick overview of my favorite hotel booking sites. More details below, but if you just want to get started with saving money on hotels, the best discounts, coupons, hotel deals, or book the best all-inclusive resorts, check this list:

  1. Booking.com – usually gets you the best prices, very reliable, offers great deals, and is my Nr. 1 hotel booking site
  2. Agoda.com – my second favorite hotel booking website, which has good offers for Asia and Australia, but also elsewhere
  3. HotelsCombined.com – best hotel booking site search engine that compares several other sites

    Honorable mentions:
  4. Hotwire.com – offers great hotel deals (especially 4-star chains), and good bundles with flights and car rentals
  5. Hotels.com – has a large selection of hotels, especially chains, and a good rewards program
  6. Lastminute.com – large U.K. based site offering great hotel, flight, car, and package deals
  7. Expedia.com – great travel booking site with good offers and packages
  8. Priceline – has good offers, but you often need to be flexible
  9. Momondo – originally focused on flights, now also offers hotel comparisons
  10. HotelTonight – great last-minute deals, ideally when you’re already at the destination, better use the app

Best Family Hotels

At Best Family Escapes, we review hotels and resorts for families with children. Here is a list of some selected destinations which are suitable for kids. Check them out for trusted reviews on affordable hotels, and a direct link to get the best deals.

Europe

USA


Restaurant view from Hotel Hostalillo in Tamariu on the Costa Brava in Catalunya Spain with Mediterranean Sea in the background
Hotel Hostalillo, Tamariu, Costa Brava, Spain

I’ve booked this hotel for our summer vacation 2019 through Booking.com. I usually book all my hotels through Booking.com – their booking process is just the easiest and most transparent, making them the world’s leading accomodation booking website.

 


Save up to 90% on Hotels and Resorts

If you don’t just want a good hotel deal which is often offered by any hotel booking site, I have two options for you how to save up to 90% on hotels and resorts.

  1. For major cities worldwide, check out my Special Deals page. Just click on one of the cities or regions, and you’ll get our best hotel deals – ranked by the actual percentage that you’re saving. This can include budget hotels, as well as mid-range, or luxury hotels. The cities and regions included are: Amalfi Coast, Amsterdam, Athens, Bali, Bangkok, Barcelona, Berlin, Boston, Cancun, Chicago, Costa Brava, Dubai, Florence, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Kyoto, Las Vegas, Lisbon, London, Los Cabos, Miami Beach, Munich, Mykonos, Naxos, New York, Orlando, Paris, Phuket, Prague, Puerto Vallarta, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, San Francisco, Santorini, Seattle, Singapore, Sitges, Syndey, Tokyo, Toronto, Vancouver, Venice.
  2. Sign up to my newsletter, in which I send you the best hotel deals, with the biggest savings directly into your inbox. Not more than once per week – promised.

Coupons Are Popular

Coupons are very popular. I’m actually using a great coupon service called Honey. It works in two ways: a) you can collect “Honey Gold” points towards a $10 gift card, but what I find even more useful is b) a price comparison with alerts if a product goes under a certain pre-defined threshold. I’ve got some great discounts at Amazon this way. So, if you’re looking e.g. for the Apple AirPods on Amazon, you set the alert for “Notify me at 10% off” through the integrated Honey widget, and the system sends you an email if the price hits the specified discount. Very useful – I’ll write a separate blog post about Honey at some point.

Hotel Coupon Codes

Back to hotels. If you’re just looking for a coupon code, I’ve listed the best hotel coupons below. However, there is more to know about getting the best hotel deals, so keep on reading.

Booking.com Coupon Code – The best way to book deals directly on Booking.com is through their Deals page, which I check myself regularly and which we integrate into our own Special Deals at Best Family Escapes. Right now they have “Early 2020 Deals” which you should check out. There is no specific hotel coupon code at Booking.com

Agoda.com Coupon Code – Agoda.com usually offers 5% or 10% coupons if you sign up; sometimes available also directly in the hotel listing overview

Hotels.com Coupon Code – Hotels.com has some useful coupons listed directly on their site. Mainly discounts for selected hotels of the week

Expedia.com Coupon Code – You need to sign up with your email to get coupons from Expedia

Priceline.com Coupon Code – Again, sign up to receive discounts to your inbox

Hotwire.com Coupon Code – Does not have coupon codes, but deals up to 60% off, especially with large 4-star hotels

How to Get the Best Hotel Deals

  • Check out our Special Deals page, with the best deals and cheapest hotels for some selected destinations.
  • When is the best time to book a hotel? Try to book as early as possible. Hotel rates rarely go down with time, they rather go up. This is especially important during high-season (tip: make sure to find out when is high-season for your destination – it’s not always obvious), and for family hotels.
  • If you have the flexibility, try to avoid special events, unless you’re targeting to visit that event yourself. For example – you don’t want to visit San Francisco during major tech shows like RSA or Dreamforce, if you’re just a tourist visiting the city. Prices are 2-3x higher than usual, and your Motel 6 suddenly costs $350/night. Ridiculous.
  • If you do plan to attend an event in your destination, make sure to check where the event actually takes place – it might be way out of town. Try to adjust your hotel search, either by staying close to the event for convenience, or itentionally far away for lower rates.
  • What are the best events for families to attend? Check out our Family Events Directory, with lisitings on several countries, e.g. Spain, Netherlands, USA, etc.
  • Weekend vs. weekdays? Big cities often have better rates on weekends, when there are no events, and there is only little or no business travel. Hotels and resorts in holiday destinations, or just outside of the big cities in typical weekend destinations, have better rates during the week.
  • Which website should you use to book hotels online? I recommend Booking.com – which has the best deals, and the most transparent booking process. Extra charges like resort fees are clearly specified. I book all my hotels on Booking.com, which got me to Genius Level 2 – a tier in their rewards system. With Genius Level 2 you receive up to 15% discount on selected properties, free breakfasts, and free room upgrades. Again – not always, just on selected properties.screenshot of Booking.com Genius Level 2 discount confirmation
  • Booking.com vs. Expedia.com vs. Hotels.com – I have used them all three, but I seem to be getting the best deals on Booking.com. If a hotel is not available on Booking.com, I’m using one of the two other ones.
  • Booking.com vs. booking directly with the hotel – It makes sense to check prices directly with the hotel as well, especially some hotels and resorts offer certain packages that are not available through the online hotel booking websites. However, I would watch out for the following:
    • a) Cancellation terms (!)
    • b) Payment options – secure, easy, which credit cards etc.
    • c) Price – do you actually get a better price, or are some fees just hidden
    • d) Are you booking the same room, or an inferior room?
    • e) Package deals with flight, car rental, etc.
  • I usually just skip any potential problems as above, and book through Booking.com. If there is a problem with the hotel in the end, you have a much better chance to get your money back if you booked through a third party.

1. Best Hotel Booking Websites: Booking.com

Booking.com – My favorite site for booking hotels and resorts

Booking.com Website: Booking.com

Booking.com Email: [email protected]

Booking.com Telephone Number: +1 (888) 850-3958

Booking.com App: Download

Review Highlights of Booking.com

  • Has consistently the cheapest rates for hotels and resorts
  • Offers vacation homes (similar to Airbnb, but offered through Booking.com), homestays, guesthouses, if typical hotels is not what you’re looking for
  • Try ‘Map View‘ – to choose a hotel based on a map – very useful. I often choose based on ‘map view’ when I know in which area of a city I’m planning to stay in.
  • Reasons to visit‘, and ‘Attractions Recommended by Locals‘ – gives you a good inidcation on which sightseeing spots are close to that hotel
  • Great customer service: if something goes wrong, it’s good to know that somebody has your back
  • Verified guest reviews‘ – guarantees to have reviews and opinions only from guests who have actually stayed there (important!)

How to book on Booking.com?

View Map Feature

I love their map feature ‘View Map’. Check it out yourself. Sometimes it just makes more sense to pick a hotel based on its geographic location from a map, then from a list. If you only search by price or rating, the list view if more convenient, of course.

Map view of hotels and apartments in Paris on Booking.com

Check the ‘Map View’ of Paris above. Paris is a huge city. Knowing where the hotel is located on a map comes in very handy. I also like the small popup with a snippet of the hotel as you see in the image above.

Note: On all our ‘Best Family Hotels‘ pages, we have included a map from which you can also select our hotel recommendations based on map view. Try e.g. San Francisco – Best Family Hotels, or Amsterdam – Best Family Hotels.

Top Picks for Families

At Best Family Escapes, we do focus on family holidays with children, however most of the tips and tricks on this page relate to any kind of hotel booking.

Traveling with children is not easy, that’s why we focus on hotels and resorts that are especially family-friendly. Booking.com also comes in handy here, with their “Top Picks for Families” – see below. Booking.com automatically will recommend family-friendly properties if you were searching for a hotel with at least one child in your search request.

Top picks for families on Booking.com

While you are browing through the site, you will also note that the hotels which are recommended for families, will also have a “Family Friendly” sign next to the hotel name. If I book a hotel for my family, this is one of the most important feature I use. Further down on the description of the hotel, usually at the bottom, you will also find an indication on how families with children rated the location of that hotel. Example: “Families in particular like the location ‚Äď they rated it 9.2 for a stay with kids.

Family friendly feature next to hotel name on Booking.com

Depending on who you are doing the hotel search for, Booking.com also has other hotel recommendations, e.g. “Top Picks for Business Travelers“, “Great for Two Travelers“, or “Top Picks for Solo Travelers“.

Look closer at the features next to the hotel name, and you’ll find further important features and indications, e.g. “Beach” – if the property is next to a beach, “Airport shuttle” – if there is a shuttle to the airport from the hotel, and lots of other hints.

Genius Loyalty Program

If you have joined the Genius Loyalty program at Booking.com as described above, the site will give you a list of hotels at which you can actually benefit from these rewards, and save money. Up to 15% discounts at select properties is only useful if you know which ones they are.

List of hotels with Genius Level 2 benefits within Book.com loyalty rewards program

Verified Guest Reviews

Guest reviews don’t help – and can be counter-productive – if they are fake. What you need is verified guest reviews, from guests who have actually stayed at that hotel. Sounds obvious, but there are still lots of fake review sites out there. Don’t get fooled. Booking.com has only guest reviews from real bookers, and real hotel stays.

Snapshot of a verified guest review overview of a hotel in Paris on Booking.com

The review categories include: location, staff, cleanliness, comfort, value for money, breakfast, and free WiFi. It is also helpful that Booking.com highlights if a hotel is doing well in a particular category. In the example above, (which is the 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord in Paris), the hotel has a high score for its breakfast. Bon appétit.

2. Best Hotel Booking Websites: Agoda.com

Agoda.com – Great site for booking hotels in Asia, Australia, and beyond

Agoda.com Website: Agoda.com

Agoda.com Email: [email protected]

Agoda.com Telephone Number: +44 20 3027 7900

Agoda.com App: iOS Android

Review Highlights of Agoda.com

  • Second best website for booking hotels, lists many cheap hotels, as well as luxury brands.
  • Wordwide coverage, however Agoda.com is especially strong in Asia and Australia.
  • Large availability of Agoda Homes, similar to Airbnb, but administered through Agoda.

How to book on Agoda.com?

View of Agoda.com hotel booking website with coupon and mega deal display for hotel in Phuket Thailand
Agoda.com Mega Sale Deal for Phuket, Thailand hotels

Check the above snapshot of the Agoda.com booking example. First, you’ll notice the button “Activate Coupon”. As described above, you can get an extra 5% discount on your booking just by clicking it. Important: Don’t forget to enter the code “AGODASALE” on the payment page [the code may change!].

Second, you’ll notice that Agoda.com also gives you some hefty discounts and helps you save money on your hotel booking. In this example, the Splash Beach Resort Mai Khao Phuket in Thailand [here is our in-depth review] is 76% off, the Dewa Phuket (Beach Resort, Villas and Suites) is saving you 89%. Mega sale!

Want more super saver discounts delivered right to your inbox? Want to save up to 90% on hotels and resorts? Make sure to sign up to our newsletter where we publish the best deals first.

Family Mode

Another reason why we love Agoda.com is ‘Family Mode‘ – see on the image below.

Agoda.com hotel booking listing with family mode enabled, and family-friendly features visible, including features families love at that property

With ‘Family Mode’ enabled, you can see family-friendly features for each property. At our example above, the Dewa Phuket (Beach Resorts, Villas and Suites), it’s that toddlers between 0 and 3 years stay free, family rooms and interconnecting rooms are available, there is a kids swimming pool, airport shuttle, extra beds are available, as well as a baby cot, and a kids club. This information is just very helpful if you’re planning a trip as a family with children.

Also make sure that you select the “Family Friendly” tab on the top of the screen, to prioritize properties with larger rooms and family-friendly facilities. If I travel with my family, I select both the “Family Mode” and then switch to “Family Friendly” properties.

3. Best Hotel Booking Websites: HotelsCombined

HotelsCombined РMy favorite hotel booking comparison site

HotelsCombined Website: HotelsCombined.com

HotelsCombined Email: [email protected]

HotelsCombined App: Download

Review Highlights of HotelsCombined

  • There are many travel search engines out there, however HotelsCombined has the most transparent booking process, and largest availability of properties
  • HotelsCombined is especially strong in Australia and Asia, being based in Australia
  • HotelsCombined offers the best last minute deals, and therefore is the primary choice for saving money
  • The large availability of rooms will also help families that often need a bigger (family) room, or have other family-friendly feature requirements
  • Keep in mind that HotelsCombined is a travel search engine, which means you don’t book directly with HotelsCombined, but with their partner online travel agency (OTA), like Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, or Agoda

It’s not a bad idea to start your booking process with a travel search engine like HotelsCombined, however my experience has been that I wasn’t really able to save additionally from these services. In the end, Booking.com or Agoda provide you with many deals, coupons, reward levels that are often unavailable if you have been directed from a hotel search engine. Another reason why I usually start directly with Booking.com, or Agoda.com, is that I often don’t just look for the cheapest deal. It rather needs to be the best offer for my requirements (hotel features, amenities, location, star-rating, etc.).

How to book on HotelsCombined?

Hottest Deals

As I mentioned, HotelsCombined is a great hotel booking option if you’re looking for the best deals.

View of hottest hotel and resort deals on HotelsCombined, a travel search engine for hotels and resorts

How to get to the best deals on HotelsCombined? Very easy – just click on “Hot Deals” in the main menu, which gives you the hottest deals for your desired location (here: New York). Again, it’s a great site to finding cheap hotels, and the best deals, however as you can see above, the site provides much less information on hotel features and amenities – at least in its overview listing.

Price Alerts

Another excellent feature of HotelsCombined is their “Price Alert“, which notifies you if a selected hotel or resort drops by at least 10% or more. It’s similar to the feature that Honey offers for products (see above). Keep in mind that you want to book your hotel with “Free Cancellation“. That way you can book and secure a hotel immediately, however keep your options open if you find a lower price; in this case you’d cancel the original booking and book again the cheaper rate. If you do that, make sure that you are actually booking the same room, at the same hotel, for the same dates.

Totochie – Hotel Ratings for Families With Children

You might have wondered about our Totochie ratings. We have created Totochie specifically to help you find a perfect hotel or resort for your family with children. See our detailed explanation about Totochie ratings here. With the Totochie ratings I want to make your hotel booking process as smooth as possible. I want to emphazise again that there are budget, mid-range, as well as luxury hotels and resorts that have earned Totochie awards. Totochie awards are honored based on their consistent focus on families with children. I also want to stress that we do not receive any kind of commission from a hotel that has been rewarded a Totochie. If you like Totochie as much as we do – check out our Totochie Shop with all kinds of travel gear for children, smart toys, and Totochie clothing for kids.

Affiliate Disclosure: many of the above links to booking sites are affiliate links. This means that I earn a small commission if you book a hotel through them. However, the hotel rate is never ever more expensive for you, and you’ll receive the same discounts and coupons as without coming from an affiliate. Instead, the affiliate commissions help me run this site. Thank you for reading and I hope you benefited from my tips and recommendations!

Do you agree with my selection of the best hotel booking websites? Do you have other ones that you prefer? I’d love to hear about it! Please leave me a comment below.

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