There are now plenty of different hotel booking sites out there, each of which comes with its own unique features and benefits. But how do you know which one to choose when it comes to finding the perfect hotel room for your next trip?
We’ve got you covered with a breakdown of the best hotel booking sites for different types of travelers. We’ll introduce you to each of our top picks and what it has to offer so that you can head straight to the best choice for your needs.
Table of content
- 1. Best Overall: Booking.com
- 2. Best Rewards Program: Hotels.com
- 3. Best for Price Comparisons: Kayak.com
- 4. Best for LGBTQ+ Travelers: Orbitz
- 5. Best for Luxury Travelers: Mr. and Mrs. Smith
- 6. Best for Narrowing Down Your Options: Google Travel
- 7. Best for Last Minute Bookings: HotelTonight
- How Can You Find The Lowest Hotel Rates?
- Why Do Hotels Choose to Use Third-party Websites?
- What's the best time to book a hotel for the lowest rates?
- What's the best day to book a hotel for the lowest rates?
- Is booking hotels at the last minute a good strategy?
1. Best Overall: Booking.com
Booking.com is not only one of the most popular booking sites in the world, but it’s also home to the largest selection of choices. Available in 43 different languages, Booking.com features over 28 million listings, from hotels and resorts to vacation homes and rentals.
Not only does it offer plenty of great hotels to choose from, but the site also offers users the option to book flights, car rentals, and airport taxis. You can even use it to find and purchase tickets to popular attractions in the area you plan to visit.
But despite its variety of options, Booking.com nonetheless makes it incredibly easy to find the perfect choice for your preferences. You can use filters to narrow down hotels by budget, room type, features, or even distance to nearby attractions.
Booking.com even offers a low-price guarantee - if you find the same room at a lower price after making your booking, they’ll refund you the difference up to 24 hours before you check-in. Overall, Booking.com is a great place to start your search, no matter where in the world you plan to travel.
- World’s largest selection of bookings
- Plenty of customizable filters
- Price match guarantee
- Customer service is available 24/7 but can still be hit or miss
- The sheer number of options can sometimes be overwhelming
2. Best Rewards Program: Hotels.com
Hotels.com is another popular online booking site that offers hundreds of thousands of hotels in locations all over the globe. From high-end hotels and villas to budget motels, Hotels.com has something for every budget.
Hotels.com also offers plenty of standard filters, as well as a “travel experience” option where you can view properties based on things like family, business, or LGBTQ+ friendliness. But one of the strongest features of Hotels.com is its free rewards program, One Key.
When you sign up for a free One Key account, you’ll start collecting OneKeyCash for every dollar you spend on eligible Hotels.com bookings. The points you earn can be used not only on Hotels.com, but also on sister sites like Expedia and Vrbo.
The more you book, the more you save as you move up through different rewards tiers. Each tier also comes with its own unique set of perks, such as free upgrades, discounts, and more.
- Great rewards program
- Plenty of great options to choose from
- Easy-to-use search filters
- Not as many options as some sites, but still a substantial number
3. Best for Price Comparisons: Kayak.com
Unlike online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Booking.com or Hotels.com, Kayak is what’s known as a comparison or meta-search engine. An aggregator is sort of like Google for travel bookings - not necessarily a booking site in itself, but a search engine that pulls up the results from various OTAs in an effort to help you find the lowest prices.
In addition to hotels, you can also use Kayak to book flights, trains, and buses, or even entire vacation packages. If you do plan to use Kayak, then it’s worth downloading the mobile app, which features special mobile-only rates, as well as the option to get price drop notifications.
Another cool perk of the Kayak app is that you can also use it to get updates on your travel itinerary. For instance, it will send you flight status alerts, allow you to store your boarding passes, and more.
- Great for searching multiple travel sites at once
- The mobile app also functions as a travel itinerary
- Built-in price prediction tool tells you the best time to book
- Occasionally, you’ll find cheaper prices on a hotel’s website
- Can’t book directly through Kayak
4. Best for LGBTQ+ Travelers: Orbitz
A subsidiary of the Expedia Group, Orbitz is an online travel agency and search engine that leverages technology to help users find great deals on travel. With a simple, easy-to-use interface, Orbitz offers several great categories, such as last-minute deals and insider prices.
Back in 2021, the site did a rebrand that features a number of perks for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s one of the few sites that offers an entire section dedicated to LGBTQ+-friendly hotels, complete with event listings and travel recommendations.
Orbitz also has a solid rewards program that allows you to earn “Orbucks” when you use the site to book flights, hotels, packages, or activities. If you plan to use it often, it’s worth downloading the app, which earns a higher percentage back on each booking than the web version of the site.
- Great for last-minute deals
- An excellent resource for LGBTQ+ travelers
- Unlike other search engines, you can book directly on the Orbitz site
- Rewards can only be used for hotel bookings
5. Best for Luxury Travelers: Mr. and Mrs. Smith
If you’re looking to splurge on your next hotel, then look no further for your next booking than Mr. and Mrs. Smith. A “global travel club” (don’t worry, it’s free to join), the site caters specifically to travelers looking for high-end accommodations.
The hotel features over 1700 luxury and boutique hotels from around the world, each of which has been personally vetted by a member of the site’s team. Despite the fact that the site caters to high-end clientele, it nonetheless offers a best-price guarantee, complete with a travel voucher, if you find a better deal on another site.
The site also features some of the most unique search categories we’ve come across, from castles and manors to the best hotels for proposals. If you want to book a journey you’ll remember for a lifetime, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a great place to start.
- Great for finding high-end and unique hotels
- Best-price match guarantee
- Family-friendly search option
- Far fewer hotels and filters than larger booking sites
6. Best for Narrowing Down Your Options: Google Travel
Given that it’s the world’s most popular search engine, it only makes sense that Google would offer its technology as a travel search tool. Much like other aggregators, Google doesn’t offer direct bookings itself, so there’s no need to worry about bias.
Unlike some other travel search engines, it also includes the option to book directly through the hotel itself, in addition to rounding up the best third-party booking options. Another nice perk is that it uses the power of Google Maps to lay out each hotel in the results on a handy map, complete with pricing.
When you select a hotel, you’ll also get quick access to its Google reviews, photos, amenity breakdowns, and more. Google Travel is also handy for booking flights and finding nearby attractions.
- Uses familiar Google search settings for an easy, user-friendly experience
- Includes first-party hotel booking site in price comparisons
- Maps out prices and locations of different options
- No rewards program
- Includes every booking option out there, some of which may be more reputable than others
7. Best for Last Minute Bookings: HotelTonight
Whether you tend to be a spontaneous sort of traveler or need a solid option for booking hotels due to last-minute travel changes, HotelTonight has got you covered. The site is specifically designed to present you with the best last-minute hotel deals in major cities all over the world.
One major potential downside is that you won’t find many offers from hotels in smaller cities. But HotelTonight does feature accommodations in most cities with major airports, making it a solid choice for frequent business travelers.
Due to the nature of the site, its interface is pretty short and sweet, with a breakdown of hotels in a given area alongside price, rating, and number of rooms left available. If you’re looking to avoid endless scrolling, then HotelTonight is a great option for finding deals on your next last-minute booking.
- Great for simplifying last-minute booking options
- Maps out results by location and price
- Automatically filters out booked-up hotels
- No filter options
- Not the best choice for pre-planned travel
How Can You Find The Lowest Hotel Rates?
So what are the cheapest hotel booking sites? The truth is it depends, which is why aggregators like Google Travel and Kayak tend to be so popular.
As search engines, rather than booking sites in themselves, aggregator sites round up prices from hundreds of different booking options so that you can compare them for yourself. That said, it’s also worth taking things like loyalty points or reward programs into account when determining the cheapest option.
Will You Earn Hotel Loyalty Points When You Book Through a Third Party?
When it comes to hotel loyalty points, is it better to book a hotel through a third-party website or direct? Most often, you will not earn loyalty points when booking through a third-party site like an OTA.
Many hotels offer loyalty points specifically to encourage customers to book directly through their first-party websites. This is likely why some third-party sites, like Hotels.com and Orbitz, have developed comparable rewards programs of their own.
Why Do Hotels Choose to Use Third-party Websites?
So why do hotels even use third-party booking sites if they prefer their customers to book direct? Because they’d rather a guest book on another website than not at all.
These days, plenty of people use OTAs and travel search engines to find the best accommodations in the area they plan to visit. Hotels that exclude themselves from the listing results stand to lose out on a great deal of business.
Why do some hotel sites provide more affordable prices?
In an effort to fill as many rooms as possible, some hotels will offer discounted rooms on third-party sites during slow periods. That’s why you’ll often find steep discounts on non-refundable rooms, last-minute deals, and travel packages.
What's the best time to book a hotel for the lowest rates?
Sometimes finding the best rate on a hotel room can feel a little like playing the stock market. Hotel room prices largely come down to supply and demand.
Many hotels will offer discounted rates during their area’s off-season or at the last minute. But you don’t necessarily have to wait until the night before to lock in your plans.
A study by Nerdwallet found that the cheapest time to book a hotel is usually about 15 days in advance. If you choose to book a room further in advance, make sure to check out your booking site’s price guarantee, which will usually allow you to rebook or file a claim if the rate of your reservation drops before your stay.
What's the best day to book a hotel for the lowest rates?
If your plans are flexible, then you’ll usually find that weekdays are the cheapest days to stay in most hotels. Given that weekends tend to be the most popular time to travel, many hotels end up with more rooms available during the week and often offer them at discounted rates.
Is booking hotels at the last minute a good strategy?
Many hotels do drop their rates for last-minute bookings, which is where booking sites like HotelTonight come into play. The downside is that this is only relevant if there are rooms still available, which is why you may be better off going with a price guarantee if you have your heart set on a certain hotel.
Hotel booking sites can make it a lot easier to find the right hotel for you, especially if you plan to travel to a new area. Many third-party booking sites now offer great search filters that make it even easier to find exactly what you’re looking for.
If you don’t already have a favorite OTA, then aggregator sites and search engines can be a great way to find the best deals available at any point in time. Before locking in your booking, it’s always a good idea to check the prices offered on a hotel’s site, as many hotels now offer best rate guarantees.
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