I’ve found these to be the best hotel booking sites, essential if you’re trying to work out how to easily compare hotel prices. First, scan this list (in no particular order) and try your searches in multiple sites. Do read on – we’ll give you 27 great tips for bagging the best hotel deal.
TripAdvisor website: TripAdvisor.com
- The best site for finding hotel reviews and you can sort hotel deals by review score.
- Like Kayak and HotelsCombined, TripAdvisor hotel comparison displays some of the deals from a range of hotel booking sites.
- Unlike Kayak, TripAdvisor orders its search results by lowest price initially.
- You can book directly through TripAdvisor and the rates are provided by Booking.com
- We use TripAdvisor to help find hotels near to theme parks and attractions.
Skyscanner Website: Skyscanner.com
- Famed for its flights search engine Skyscanner now offers strong hotel comparison tools.
- Good filter options that include cancellation policy and meal plans.
- For families: lots of ways to filter for family – including sort by ‘tribes’, one of which is families. You can also further filter those results that are popular with families.
HotelsCombined Website: HotelsCombined.com
- One of our favourite booking sites as it searches the online travel agent sites, along with hotels’ own websites.
- Excellent family option as it has a bigger selection of family rooms than someone like Booking.com
- Good option for last minute hotel deals.
- Most diverse range of property types including apartments, glamping, hostels and loads more. This is good or bad depending on your requirements as you’ll need to filter out the others if you are solely interested in hotels.
- Best price of any hotel booking site.
- See hotels which offer free cancellation so you can book in the comfort of knowing you can cancel if you need too. Be aware that there are different types of reservation. Some have cancellation fees, others charge the full amount at the booking stage with no chance to cancel.
Hotels.com website: Hotels.com
- Like many of its competitors Hotels.com includes a lot of non-hotel properties as well, including guesthouses, and bed and breakfasts.
- Lots of filters to choose from.
- Frustratingly, their search results often include a number of greyed out results which is particularly annoying!
Trivago website: Trivago.com
- Sometimes the best offers are not the most clear so make sure you look at the results closely to make sure Trivago isn’t hiding a better deal.
- Trivago searches an excellent number of hotel sites. Some of these are lesser known and can give more choice in terms of hotels and deals.
TravelSupermarket Website: TravelSupermarket
- Along with their excellent package holiday search, TravelSupermarket offer a good hotel comparison tool that uses technology from HotelsCombined.
Expedia website: Expedia
- Expedia is a booking site rather than a comparison site. The same company powers two other hotel comparison sites: Travelocity and Orbitz and generally all three will deliver the same hotels and deals.
- You’ll simply find what you need, at what is likely the best price. Just be sure to compare prices to a hotel booking site outside the Expedia family.
- Plenty of search filters and good prices. But like all hotel comparison sites they are not always great or the best.
Agoda website: Agoda.com
- Started as a specialist for hotels in Asia and that focus does remain today.
- But Agoda has prices for all over the world so its worth checking as you may find a hidden gem. We found Agoda to sometimes have better hotel deals than its competition.
Kayak website: Kayak.com
- Very slick and easy to use interface
- Shows other hotel booking sites’ rates so you can compare in one place. But the first hotel price result is often higher than better rates further down the list. It’s good for price comparisons, so long as you’re willing to check through or sort by price if you’re looking for the cheapest deal.
- Other filters include ambience (eg, ‘trendy’, ‘family’, ‘eco-friendly’) and freebies provided (eg, breakfast, parking, airport shuttle).
We used all of the above booking sites hotel search engines, to get a quote for booking a specific hotel in London on the same date.
The results were surprising as prices ranged from £387-£655 for a double room. That’s £268 saved for 20 minutes of research.
Therefore, it really is worth your while shopping around as results will vary and different sites offer various discounts at different times!
Book Hotel At The Right Time
With the exception of late deals, where hotels are keen to fill empty rooms at the last minute, it’s unwise to leave your booking too late.
For the best price, you should book between three and four weeks before your desired travel date although the price difference is really not that much if you book a month before or a day before.
According to Skyscanner.com you should be mindful about dates you want to book. Some hotels hike their prices up on bank holidays, Christmas, Labor Day etc. You will also have to pay more at weekends instead of midweek.
Remember this is a ‘general’ rule – there will always be unique exceptions according to the demand.
Compare Your Booking Options
To get the best prices your best bet is to check out multiple sources including the hotel’s own website, as they’ll sometimes offer deals they don’t share with third-party sites.
27 Hotel Booking Tips & Tricks
Why You Should Always Refer To TripAdvisor!
As you search for hotels you’re going to need reviews. Because in the competitive hotel game a good deal is not always what it seems – you don’t want to find yourself staying in a dirty, noisy, unfriendly hole that looked okay in the photos and scored reasonably on the booking site.
The hotel star rating system only applies to the UK but searching on sites like TripAdvisor will let you read reviews. Not all reviews are equal and it’s better to look to an independent site like TripAdvisor for a warts-and-all account.
Compare what different sites say about one budget hotel in Birmingham;-
TripAdvisor AVERAGE 3 stars from 315 reviews “Adequate accommodation, but beware the noise of late-night revellers at the weekend”
Booking.com GOOD 7.1 from 874 reviews “Nice clean comfy stay”
Laterooms.com GOOD from 71 reviews “Clean, Tidy with very helpful and friendly staff”
Expedia GOOD 3.5/5 from 640 reviews “84% of guests recommend it”
In our experience, TripAdvisor reviews provides the most accurate sense of the quality of a hotel, with many experienced travel reviewers who are willing to factor in value-for-money and customer expectations.
Check For Hidden Charges
Once you’ve pinned down the hotel you like, there are two steps you should take before pressing ‘book’.
First go to the hotel’s own website and check you can’t book it cheaper direct. Many of the big family-friendly chains like Premier Inn and Travelodge offer online saver rates that are better than you’ll find anywhere else.
Some independent hotels, too, will do you a better deal direct. Bear in mind they often have to pay commissions to brokers, so money not spent on a middle agent could be money saved for both parties.
Travelling Abroad? Check Combination Packages
If you’re flying to your destination, here’s another thing you should check before confirming.
When searching flights, see if you can get a better deal by booking a flight + hotel combo package.
Find A Bargain Hotel Deal In The School Holidays
While finding flights in the school holidays can be a nightmare, hotels are a better prospect. Book well ahead at the likes of Premier Inn and Travelodge and your purse shouldn’t suffer too badly. Meanwhile lots of hotels have special school holiday offers.
lastminute.com is a good place to look for half term deals.
Spoil The Secret! How To Get Discounts At Luxury Hotels
High end hotels don’t advertise discounts, because it’s bad for their premium image.
Typically on these you’ll see a hotel described but not named, so you don’t know where it is exactly. But a bit of investigative work and you should be able to work it out.
Using lastminute.com we found a £77 room for two available in two weeks’ time at a classy London hotel. It was described as a “modern, 4-star hotel is located in vibrant Kensington and just minutes away from shopping centres, famous museums and parks, and well connected via public transport.”
A quick Google of this description and in seconds we discovered this hotel is the The Hilton London Olympia. The same room spec is advertised for £111 on their website and with various booking sites.
Looking For A Cheap Hotel In America?
Hotwire is America’s secret hotel site, except it doesn’t just offer premium hotels it searches the whole market. All the hotels are anonymous and there are huge savings to be had.
Searching for a family-friendly hotel in Florida’s Orlando, close to Disney World, we found a four star chain hotel with rooms for £53 a night on Hotwire. With taxes and resort fees this went up to £77. However with a bit of Google searching we worked out this was probably the opulent Marriott, where rooms start around £200 per night if you book direct.
Meanwhile Priceline is different concept. A kind of ‘eBay of hotels’, you bid for a room stating how much you’re prepared to pay, the areas you’d accept and the minimum stars. Priceline then either accepts your bid and offers you a suitable hotel or it declines and invites you to raise your offer. It’s quite fun!
UK Attraction Breaks, Are Their Packages Worth It?
If you’re booking a trip to Legoland, Thorpe Park, Alton Towers or another of the popular UK attractions, do take a look at the hotel deals these attractions offer. They seem convenient, but are they a good deal?
Before you commit it’s worth checking the price of booking a hotel separately. Often these attractions offer cheap ticket deals that can’t be used with hotel deals.
It does usually work out cheaper to put together your own attraction breaks deal, but the theme parks can often have great short break deals via their holiday websites, so its worth comparing before you make that booking.
Use Newsletter Sign Ups To Your Advantage!
Many hotel booking sites will give you a discount if you sign up for their newsletter.
It’s an easy way to knock pounds off a hotel you may have already seen on their site.
Split The Family Up! Separate Rooms Can Be Cheaper
If you’re struggling to find a family hotel room and you don’t mind being separated, consider booking two rooms (ask for adjoining). This can also work out cheaper sometimes. Use Booking.com which enables you to search for multiple rooms in the same hotel.
Use Loyalty Schemes
Reward schemes are popular. Ebookers runs Bonus+ with up to 5% cashback and special deals like 3 x Bonus+ points when you book flights with United Airlines. Once you’ve booked 10 nights or more with Hotels.com you get an extra night free with their Hotels.com Rewards.
Use these sites when it makes sense. If you can continually find cheaper prices elsewhere it doesn’t always make sense to build loyalty.
Check Brand New Hotels For Offers
Often when a new hotel opens they’ll start with low price deals to tempt guests in. Type into Google the name of your destination followed by “new hotel”. Click on Google’s news tab and see if there are any recent hotel openings. Give them a call and a quick question can sometimes win you a money-saving stay.
Another idea is to check Hotel Design’s industry news section and see which hotels have had refits and relaunches – again, often these venues are keen to bring new business and deals are available.
Got A Big Family? Think About Alternative Accommodation
It can be challenging travelling with a large family. Sometimes the hotel world seems unfairly biased towards those with two kids or less.
If a hotel says rooms are only for four persons, ask if they’ll rent you a fold up bed or other to take your own blow up bed.
If you’re forced to take an extra room, try to get an adjoining room and ask for a discount.
You might find independent hotels more accommodating than purpose-built chains, due to their quirk room shapes and more flexible rules.
Stay On A Sunday!
If you can be flexible, include a Sunday in your hotel stay – it’s generally the cheapest night in the hotel world. However it depends on the market and there could be other good times to find.
A business hotel in a financial district that becomes a ghost-town at weekends may have some great prices for Friday and Saturday nights. While a tourist town like Brighton that has a strong weekend trade may offer cheaper prices during the week.
Look For ATOL Protection
If you’re flying to your hotel destination and you book a flight + hotel deal via a broker, you should be ATOL protected. ATOL cover means you don’t lose money if the airline goes bust (and they do).
When you book an ATOL protected trip, you should be given an ATOL Certificate by your travel company as soon as you pay over any money for the holiday – even if this is only a deposit. It will tell you what’s protected by ATOL, who’s covered and who is providing this protection (the travel company’s name and ATOL number).
Book Everything Separately
While sometimes there are deals to be had, usually it pays to arrange of all your travel separately. So if you need flights, car hire or train tickets as well as a hotel, check out our travel guides. And don’t forget travel insurance. These expert guides contain over 100 tips that we guarantee will save independent travellers money.
Expand Your Search
It there’s a group of you travelling it may well be cheaper to look at holiday apartments and houses for rent.
Try eBay Holidays & Travel category is actually great for bargain-hunting, particularly if you leave it late. Many property owners that advertise their homes elsewhere will try a last minute ad on eBay to fill an otherwise vacant villa.
Another to try for holiday homes abroad is ClickStay.
Don’t forget to check out our guide to Holiday Rentals here>>
Package Holiday Deals May Cost Less
If you’re staying more than three nights and going to a traditional holiday destination like the Spanish islands, the Costas, the Algarve or Greece, check out package holiday deals.
Using TravelSupermarket to find a Christmas holiday sun break, we found 7 nights in an self-catering apartment on the Costa Brava – flights and accommodation – for £590 flying from Manchester to Barcelona, with Monarch.
Using Skyscanner to find cheap flights the same Monarch flights came to £406. Without even factoring airport transfers, this means an accommodation cost for our package of £184 – or £26 per night.
Don’t Rule Out Hostels
If you’re looking at clean and basic low budget hotels, consider hostels. They’re not just for backpackers or young travellers, many are family friendly and attract adventurous older couples too.
Hostels can be a more interesting, sociable experience than staying in a characterless chain hotel on an edge of town retail estate. Check out the YHA’s site, where family rooms start at £25 and members get a £3 reduction.
Anne from Somerset says:
Our family stayed in a perfectly good room at a youth hostel near Stonehenge. Lots of them have their own quirks. This one was attached to a huge rare breeds farm with animals and a trim trail. We were allowed to access it for free and even stayed in there after closing time – they were very relaxed and friendly.
Book Empty University Rooms
In expensive cities like London, university accommodation is an interesting option – though probably better-suited to single travellers or couples.
When students aren’t using their halls, many universities rent them out at a reasonable price. You may have to look on the local uni’s own website to find their booking details – some don’t have a formal online booking system in place.
Others, like London’s LSE for example, lsevacations.co.uk. On this site we found single rooms starting from £35 per night. For central locations like Bloomsbury this is a steal.
Try University Rooms to look for student accommodation around the world.
Camping in the UK or Europe
In good weather, camping is an absolute joy. Kids love the freedom that campsites offer and it feels good to spend time in nature, with campfires, outdoor cooking and starry nights.
Stay with a local
Do a home exchange
Live in a tourist town or attractive area? Willing to let strangers stay in your house while you’re not there? A home exchange could save you a fortune.
Most home swap sites operate on a membership fee basis. HomeExchange has over 65,000 properties listed and costs @ £100 to join, a one-off fee.
Find a working holiday where rooms and food come free
There are farms, ranches and hostels across the world where you can stay free so long as you help out with some jobs. Typically you’d be expected to give four hours a day to help with fruit picking, gardening, animal care or even boat crewing. Check out Helpx which operates in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Europe.
Airport sleeping – when you don’t want to book a hotel
If you’ve got a flight stopover and don’t want to shell out, this website will make sleeping in the airport a little bit more comfortable for you.