Let me start by saying that I have at this time received no incentives to endorse any travel websites. Therefore, my opinion for this post is neutral! I’ll explain several reasons why use hotel booking sites to find your travel accommodation. Interestingly, I have been asked why a seasoned traveler would use a site to book accommodation rather than booking directly. My response is that as a seasoned traveler, I like to minimise the time spent on searching for accommodation. And that leaves me with more time for planning the fun stuff!
Why I use Booking.com
In the past, I have used many popular travel websites to book accommodation. I won’t name and shame, but some of those large companies had hidden fees or made it difficult to cancel or amend. At times, the communication was also very slow, so any issues during travel caused a lot of stress. Therefore, I am recommending Booking.com as one site that has been reliable for many of my trips. It even worked for more exotic places such as Bolivia, Kazakhstan and Albania. The featured photo of this post is from Casa de Sal in Uyuni, Bolivia booked via Booking.com.
What I like
- Searches are simple, intuitive and comprehensive
- Budget can be specified
- Filters can be used to narrow down results based on your preferences
- Results can be sorted by location, price, review score
- Results are shown in list or map view – map view can be useful to see if the accommodation is near where you want to go and in a safe area
- Reviews are short with Positives and Negatives in bullet points. They give me a good idea if a hotel or other accommodation would be right for me.
- The review system in general is a good motivation for hotels to treat guests well as they know they will be rated!
- Easy to see available rates and cancellation policies
- Usually prices are as good as or better than the direct sites
- There is an option to print the address and directions in the local language, which can be very useful especially for different alphabets
- Sometimes as a frequent (Genius) traveler you get free extra perks such as a free drink or early check-in / late check-out
- During travel, I sometimes had delays or other issues. Although you start with a chat bot, it was not difficult to reach help. With other companies, I sometimes had much difficulty reaching a real person that could help. Essentially I would either get caught in a chat bot loop or be stuck for ages on the phone.
- You can see your own past reviews if you need to remember where you stayed before
What else to consider
There is nothing to stop you from searching around on various sites for the best prices. However, sometimes small differences in price may not be worth the trouble, so consider this carefully. I recommend Booking.com as one option, but there are other similar sites. I encourage you to read reviews about the platform and make sure they have good customer satisfaction overall.
Another tip is to remember that reviews should be interpreted with caution, as they are the opinions of people you don’t know. If possible, look at some of the characteristics of the reviewer or some of their other reviews. For example, if they are negative about a certain hotel, do they often complain about other hotels as well? You can also use common sense to filter the reviews. Luckily there are usually many reviews, so you are able to see an average across different people.
A Few Personal Experiences
In Cusco, Peru I found the delightful, family run Munaycha B&B. Luckily I found it on Booking.com since they do not have independent website. They were very welcoming and it was a single mother with her kids, who treated me like part of the family. It made my stay and travels to the area really memorable! This type of discovery of smaller local hotels or Bed and Breakfasts has happened on many occasions.
An example of the usefulness of the Booking.com chat was when I had my flight departure change multiple times at the last minute. I was able to communicate quickly with the Mado hotel in Ethiopia via the chat on the Booking.com app to arrange my transport. It would have been more challenging and expensive for me to call the local number. In addition, I received written confirmation, which made me feel more at ease.
One last example of a benefit from the site is the ability to print the address and directions to the hotel in the local language. Has anyone ever run into a problem when a taxi driver cannot read the hotel address you have carefully written down? That happened to me in Cairo, Egypt and on some other occasions. Thankfully, saving a PDF of the address in local language saved the day in Kazakhstan, Russia, and China to name a few countries.
I hope this brief post provides some reasons for why I use hotel booking sites using some real travel examples. In the general theme of this site, it is your choice whether you want to use similar sites. And the post should be considered my opinion and a recommendation for you to consider.