Best Hotel Booking Sites - Top Websites to Book Hotels Online
We’ve been reviewing hotel booking services for about eight years. For this update we spent nearly 40 hours researching and using each of the services we’ve reviewed. Because the majority of these services are owned by either Expedia or Priceline, we found very little difference in how each site functions. Instead we focused on rewards plans and tools to help you get the best price, like price watch or price matching. Our pick for the best hotel booking service is Hotels.com. This service found low prices, was easy to use and has a good rewards program.
Hotels.com has an excellent rewards programs and will send you updates if the price of your hotel changes.
Expedia has the best rewards program, offering members-only prices, rewards points and other benefits. These perks make it the best value in a hotel booking service, especially for frequent travelers.
Orbitz is the best choice for complete travel packages. It’s easy to bundle flights, hotels and car rentals together.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Booking & Fees||Reservations||Rewards & Memberships||Lowest Price Found||Number of Results||Price match||Price Watch||Mobile App||Cars||Hostels||Apartments||Free nights||Member only rates||Earn Points|
|Expedia.com||View Deal||4.5/5||7||10||10||$57||1,009||Members Only||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
Hotels.com is our pick for the top hotel booking service, with a great rewards program and some of the lowest prices we saw in our testing. We found accommodations for as low as $19. Hotels.com includes hostels and backpacker hotels in its results, which tend to offer the lowest prices. For families or couples, we found rooms for as low as $50. As with many hotel booking sites, many of the best offers are available for a limited amount of time.
If you’re booking in advance, you can sign up to get notifications if the price changes for the dates you’re booking – a useful feature that many other booking services don’t offer. Hotels.com also offers price matching. If you’re able to find a lower price, Hotels.com will reimburse you the difference or give you a coupon.
Hotels.com also offers a rewards program. The main benefit of joining is that you’ll be able to get a free night after booking 10 nights through Hotels.com. You don’t have to book them in one trip; each time you book through Hotels.com, they add up. You’ll also be able to get members-only prices and other discounts.
Expedia’s rewards program is the best we saw, giving you the best value by letting you earn points and get members-only rates on your travel.
Expedia stacks up well with other hotel booking services we looked at. We were able to find a wide range of hotels, including hostels and apartments. It’s easy to filter down and search by location, and you can find hotels close to various landmarks, neighborhoods or attractions. As of October 2017, Expedia no longer offers a price match guarantee.
When you sign up for Expedia’s rewards program, called Expedia+, you’ll earn points for each dollar you spend booking through Expedia. The points are earned for anything you book, so cars, flights and cruises all apply. Expedia+ members are also eligible for special pricing discounts.
There are different tiers to Expedia+. If you spend $5,000 or stay seven nights in a qualifying hotel, you become a +silver member. If you book 15 nights or spend $10,000, you are a +gold member. Both of these levels give you different services, including concierge service and free amenities.
Best Complete Travel Packages
Planning vacations can be tricky, but Orbitz gives you the option to bundle together your flight, hotel and rental car and book them at one time to save the hassle. Such bundling also lets you take advantages of discounts on rooms or rental cars. In general, booking all your travel items together can save you a lot. One thing we noticed is that the hotels included in these packages are more expensive than some of the budget accommodations we found when looking for hotels by themselves.
Orbitz offers a rewards program that allows you to earn Orbucks that are redeemable for hotels and other benefits. You earn one Orbuck for each dollar you spend. There are no blackout dates, and by joining you’ll also get members-only prices and access to a customer service line reserved for rewards members.
There are three tiers to the rewards program. To be eligible for Gold status you need to stay four or more nights a year, and you’ll get access to free wi-fi, breakfasts or other services at the hotels where you stay. Platinum status requires 12 or more nights a year, and it has all the benefits of the lower tiers in addition to checked-bag reimbursements.
If you want the most options to choose from, Travelocity is the best choice.
During our research, we looked at five cities: Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, Chicago and Miami. In each of them, Travelocity gave us the most results, and in some cases, it even found options none of the other services included. For solo travelers, Travelocity includes hostels and backpacker hotels, which often have the lowest prices. We found low prices through Travelocity, especially in New York City where we found a room for $60. One drawback to this service is it doesn’t have a rewards program, so it may not be the best option for frequent travelers.
Best Last-Minute Deals
If you’re going on a spur-of-the-moment trip and need a room, Hotwire.com is the best place to find a last-minute deal.
The rooms listed in its Hot Rates are unsold and available at heavily discounted rates, sometimes as much as 30 percent off. These deals are anonymous, so you don’t know the specific hotel you’re booking, just its general location and the amenities it provides. So, if you don’t have a preferred hotel brand, this is a good choice, especially if you need to find a low-cost room quick.
Why Trust Us
We’ve been reviewing hotel booking services for eight years. We also review other travel services, including travel insurance and car rental services. We know how much goes into planning travel, and we look for and recommend services that make the process as easy as possible
For our evaluations, we focused on booking sites that let you complete the process through them, which means we did not include popular services like Kayak which aggregate results.
Most of the services we reviewed are owned by either Expedia or Priceline, so you may not find many differences in the hotels you find. If you’re a frequent traveler, look carefully at the rewards programs offered by each service. Many let you earn points for each dollar you spend, and frequent travelers can move up to different tiers.
How We Evaluated
To test hotel booking services we used each site to book hotels in Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, Chicago and Miami. We looked for the lowest price we could find in each of those cities and averaged the prices together. We also looked at the number of hotels we found in each city and averaged those results. When booking hotels, we looked to see how close we could get to downtown. Most services let you search by location, so you can stay as close to whatever attraction your visiting.
We also looked to see if you could rent cars, book flights and bundle those together. Bundling a hotel with a car rental or flight can save you money, and it is one of the chief benefits of these services.
We looked closely at the standard search features, including filtering by amenities and property type. We favored sites with a wide range of options, including hostels or apartments, which are usually cheaper than standard hotels.
The best hotel booking services offer price watching and price matching. With price watches you’ll get notifications if the price changes between the date of booking and your stay, and the service will reimburse you if you find a lower price than you paid.
We also evaluated the rewards programs offered for frequent travelers. With a rewards program you can earn points for each dollar you spend, which can then be redeemed for free stays and lower member rates. Many rewards programs have tiers, so you get more benefits the more often you book trips.
How to Use a Hotel Booking Service to Save Money
According to Statista, the average cost of a hotel room in 2018 is around $130. This fluctuates during the year, with January and November being the cheapest months and peak season happening in July. Through the services we reviewed, we were able to find hotels for as low as $44 a night. A lot depends on the city you’re travelling to – some cities peak at different times. You can also save by bundling flights with your hotel room. In our trials, we saw savings of up to $100, and in some cases we were able to get a flight and hotel for the same price as a flight.
Best Ways to Save on Hotel Bookings
Finding the right hotels for the right price can be tricky. Here’s some things to look for when booking your hotels.
Bundle: If you’re flying to your destination or plan on renting a car, see if the booking site will let you book those all at the same time; usually you’ll be able to save quite a bit. In some of our test runs we saved as much as 50 percent. We especially saw large savings on rental cars.
Rewards programs: Many of the sites we reviewed offer rewards programs that let you earn free stays after accruing enough points. You can also get special members-only prices. Many hotel chains offer rewards programs as well, which are more generous than those offered by the booking sites. However, the booking site’s programs work regardless of where you book your stay.
Search for other hotels: Check out the area you’re staying to see if there are other hotels in the area. Not all hotels want to partner with the booking sites. You may be able to get a better rate by calling and negotiating directly with the owner.
Try the hotels directly: Hotel booking sites are middlemen, and in some cases you may be able to get a better deal from the hotel directly. Also try to book for non-peak times. For resorts, book during the week, and if you’re looking at a business hotel, book during the weekend.
Airbnb vs. Hotel: Which Is Better?
Airbnb has become one of the most popular alternatives to a hotel. Each type of accommodation has advantages you should weigh before booking your stay.
Price: If price is your main concern, you may be surprised to find out that hotels tend to have lower prices than Airbnbs in general. Granted, hotels run the gamut from budget to luxury, so there’s a wide distribution of prices. According to Money magazine, Airbnb prices rose 5.4 percent in 2018, while hotel prices rose around just 1 percent. Price also varies from city to city. In addition, both hotels and Airbnbs tend to adjust their pricing depending on season and local events, so you may find a better price when you travel during the off season.
Quality: Quality varies widely from Airbnb to Airbnb because the individual property owners are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance. Hotels and motels tend to be more standardized, though there’s always the risk of a substandard experience at both. Read customer reviews before booking to ensure you have a good stay.
Location: One benefit of an Airbnb is you can get one close to the attractions and places you want to see. For example, if you’re in town for a wedding, you can likely find an Airbnb within a few blocks of where the event will take place. In addition, with an Airbnb, you can find a place in the city that’s closer to what you want to see, and it can also give you a chance to experience places like the locals do. In some cities, hotels tend to be located in just a few neighborhoods, so you may need to rent a car to get around, which can add to the cost of your trip.