The best travel apps: Hotel Search

Updated 1 year ago

Ah, the good ol' reliable hotel, where there's generally a higher standard of everything: service, quality, cleanliness, safety, and amenities. Checking in is also easy any time of the day and high end options can be a life changing experience. However, experiences can sometimes feel sterile and removed from the local culture and prices are generally on the higher side.

Unless you already have a specific hotel in mind, these apps help you easily search thousands of hotels at once to find great deals.

Tips
  • Always check directly on a hotel's website to compare prices as it can be cheaper there
  • Booking directly with a hotel can make sense even if it's slightly more expensive: it can lead to better treatment and free upgrades since they're no longer paying a middleman and you can take advantage of hotel rewards like Starwood or Marriott that can add up
  • Although less common now, some sites vary prices based on your location and booking history so double check by using an incognito window and setting your location to another country with a VPN
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Booking.com

Best overall hotel search

Booking.com consistently searches the most sources and fetches the lowest prices. They also get brownie points for being honest: taxes/fees are included in their prices while others hide it in hard to read text. Good guy Booking.com. However, they do use a lot of Vegas-like flashing signs to get you to book, which can be a bit annoying.

Trivago

Great for further price shopping

Trivago takes a different approach by searching multiple hotel third party sites including Booking.com to give you an ultimate at glance view of rates (called "metasearch"). Results are generally good but the prices won't be significantly different from similar services. They do have one of the most complete set of filters and use effective visual cues like smiley faces and colors for indicating rating.

Hotel Tonight

Best for last minute deals

Hotel Tonight was a revelation in last minute hotel deals when it launched in 2010. Although many other services have caught up in this area, Hotel Tonight still offers the best last minute deals in the most well designed package having started mobile only. They also offer a straightforward 'HT Perks' program that helps offset losing out on the loyalty points you get when booking directly with a hotel.

Priceline

Best for "name your price" type deals

The basis of Priceline's "blind" deals is 1) until you actually buy, you don't know the exact hotel you're getting only the general area and service level and 2) they're non-refundable. It's slightly risky but that's how they offer better prices. There's two types of "blind" deals: "Name Your Own Price" and "Express Deals". "Name Your Own Price" is where you bid until a hotel is willing to take what you pay, but you risk potentially bidding too high. "Express Deals", which they promote more now, are supposed great deals without needing to bid.

You can sometimes figure out the exact hotel they're showing you by matching up details like ratings and price, but it's not a guarantee. Overall, if you love bargains and have the time to investigate, these blind deals can be worth it.

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