Booking the perfect hotel online.
Hotels are a big part of travel. And booking a hotel online gives you plenty of options to choose from.
Booking The Perfect Hotel Online
Sometimes the hotel is the destination and sometimes you just need a safe, clean, and quiet place to sleep before catching an early morning flight. For some travelers, a hotel is the place to kick back poolside and read a few romance novels and for some travelers a hotel is just the base of operations for days and nights exploring a new city.
Whatever style you’d like your accommodation to be and wherever you plan on going in the world this little guide will help you find the perfect hotel.
Just keep in mind that sometimes the best hotel is not a hotel at all and in this article I am going to share with you many options for finding a good night’s sleep while traveling that will go well beyond just booking the perfect hotel online.
As soon as you start planning your vacation and you have a destination in mind you’ll want to begin exploring your hotel options. This is so you can develop a baseline and understanding of what hotel rooms typically cost. The longer you are able to look at a destination’s lodging the more you’ll know what you should pay.
For hotels this is pretty easy because in my experience the prices do not change as much or as drastically as airfare prices.
Where to start?
Begin your search using the website Tingo.com.
Tingo is a TripAdvisor service that has a few nice features when it comes to booking a hotel room. For example, on many of the rooms they offer what is called “Price Drop Refunds.” If the price of the room goes down after you book but before you stay then Tingo refunds the difference back onto your credit card.
Tingo will also price match if you find the room you booked cheaper somewhere else.
Because of these perks I feel Tingo is the ideal place to begin your hotel search.
The next site I want you to search with is HotWire.com. This site is one that I’ve had a lot of luck with and landed some amazing hotel deals, especially at the last minute. What makes this site unique is that you do not know the name of the hotel until after you’ve booked it.
This can seem a little risky at first but I’ve never been let down. And usually after getting to know the hotel options in an area I am traveling to I can usually guess based on description and amenities what hotel it is I am being offered.
For the average traveler looking for a standard hotel room, these two sites will have you covered. Sure there are plenty of other websites out there but if you look at enough of them you’ll start to see how they typically offer the same results. That is why I stick with Tingo and Hotwire because Tingo has a great price guarantee and Hotwire can save you a ton of money if you are willing to book blind.
Now let’s go a bit beyond booking the perfect hotel online.
Bed and Breakfasts
Over the years I’ve really come to appreciate bed and breakfasts. Often they are the same price as a hotel but include a much better breakfast. This has been true everywhere I’ve traveled but sometimes they go by different names such as guest house or pensioner. Wherever you go B&Bs are an option worth exploring.
BedandBreakfast.com is the largest site on the internet for finding B&Bs around the world. Guidebooks and community visitor’s websites can also be a great source as well. And if you are out traveling don’t be afraid to ask around in restaurants and pubs, this is especially true in rural Europe.
BBOnline.com and BnBFinder.com are also worth a look too.
Don’t be afraid to call the inn directly and ask about price before booking. Often innkeepers are motivated to fill the house and might offer a better than advertised rate.
For the rest of this guide we are going to take a look at alternatives to traditional lodging and AirBnB.com is a good place to start. My wife and I used it a lot on a trip in many places all over the world and always a great experience. In fact it was a lifesaver in Paris.
The service connects travelers with property owners who are renting out space on their property. This could be a spare bedroom or it could be a whole apartment or house. Breakfast may or may not be included but usually use of a kitchen is and that can save you a lot of money since you can cook your own breakfast with food from a grocery store.
If you have any doubts about using a service like AirBnB I recommend you take a look at their trust and safety page here.
Similar sites to explore: Wimdu.com, VRBO.com, FlipKey.com, HouseTrip.com, and 9Flats.com for places in large European cities.
Ready to go ever further beyond booking the perfect hotel online? Good.
In just about every corner of the world you can find people who will let you stay at their house or apartment for free.
It might be on their couch in their living room or a guest room over the garage (I’ve done both). Not having to pay for lodging is a great way to get more out of your vacation budget. And it is not uncommon for hosts to pick up their guests at the airport or cook them a meal or two. But also be sure to be a respectful host and do your part by bringing a gift, cooking a meal for them, or leaving the place cleaner than you found it.
These communities like to stress that it is not just about finding a free place to stay. It is about people across borders connecting on a very personal and real level.
If you are not comfortable with finding a place to stay via one of these sites they are still a great way to meet the people that live in your vacation destination in order to gain a true local experience. My wife and I have done this several times all over the world at it is always adds to our trip.
CouchSurfing.org – by far the most known and biggest website of its kind. It is free but there is a fee for verifying your location if you want to be a host.
HospitalityClub.org – not quite as polished and modern as CouchSurfing, in fact the site looks straight out of 1995, but you will find a thriving community of fellow travelers there. The site is free.
BeWelcome.org – a great site for connecting with travel minded people all over the world. Also free.
GlobalFreeloaders.com – I almost did not include this one because their website lacks organization and is full of bugs. But I thought you would want to check out another free site that has the goal of connecting you with locals all over the world.
Servas.org – one of the oldest organizations of this type and by far the most complicated in terms of getting started. You will need two letters of recommendation as well as be interviewed. And it will cost anywhere from $25 (student) to $85 depending on the type of membership you need.
WarmShowers.org – this community is for touring cyclists but still worth a mention.
The next category of options we have is work exchange websites. This is where you as the traveler agree to do some amount of work in exchange for room and sometimes meals. These can be a great way to experience a community and really extend your travel time. Because if you take away the expense of housing AND food you really don’t need much money.
I know for most people the idea of working while on vacation does not make sense but I did not want to hold any option back.
wwoof.net – also known as “woofing” is the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms community. And the focus there is finding volunteer work on organic farms.
WorkAway.info and HelpX.net – both of these sites offer a wide range of work exchange options. Everything from carpentry to web design to child care.
All The Rest
This resource is designed to be a quick reference guide to finding a place to lay your head anywhere in the world you choose to go. It by no means covers ever option but hopefully you’ll discover one or two you did not know was available. After all booking the perfect hotel online does not always mean you are booking a hotel!
This final list is a quick rundown of other unique lodging options available to the modern traveler.
HomeExchange.com – List your property on the site and then begin browsing for like minded home owners and travelers around the world. You get to stay somewhere for free with the added bonus of having a house sitter for your place.
Like the idea of camping but not really into the actual experience of sleeping on the ground? Then glamorous camping, or “glamping“, might just be what you are looking for.
Glamping.com – this site offers a countless number of unique listings to get you outdoors in style around the world.
GlampingHub.com – another source to get your glamping on. Remember it is always good to compare both price and user reviews on various websites.
This should be plenty in setting your off on the right direction of booking the perfect hotel online!
Booking The Perfect Hotel Online