Hotels and B&B accommodation
Hostels and Homestays:
Hotels and Guesthouses
Contacting the hotel or guest house direct:
For smaller hotels in UK for very late bookings try ringing the hotel direct and haggling - you may get a cheaper price. However, hotel companies do overbook as explained in these extracts from this Travelodge page: "Like almost all other hotel companies, we overbook some of our hotels" and "On rare occasions, it may become necessary for us to outbook you and find you suitable alternative accommodation in the local area". So it is possibile that a less scrupulous hotel may shunt you to poorer hotel, if a better paying customer books before you arrive. It happened to me, whether or not for genuine reasons, I was shunted downmarket to a hotel belonging to a different proprietor. I would also guess hotels would be more respectful of bookings made via a large broker than one made by phone.
I've never got a good deal by turning up on a hotel doorstep to haggle, I guess it implies desperation and you may end up being quoted top rate. Emailing seems to elicit a response quoting standard desk rates.
Promotions and special deals:
Discounted rooms if you dine at the hotel, x nights for the price of y etc. are advertised in newspapers and voucher code websites. Some offer genuine value for money, but check against other online prices. My experience of voucher code websites is frustration: hotel chains listed but no deals when you click through, and lists of out of date deals going back over a year. I'm sure there are some bargains but I haven't the time to wade through and check.
Companies like Saga sometimes offer cheap deals with particular hotel chains, or x days for the price of y. Note: Saga is for the over 50s (and partners must be over 40).
Internet - the best site to use and alternatives:
We are a firm believer in genuine price comparison search engines. Top of our list is:
Hotels.Via.Us.Com our favourite comparison engine now fully integrated on our own site. The search engine has received many media recommendations including the LA Times (25/4/10). It searches more than 30 of the best travel sites at once and finds the cheapest price. As it searches major sites it has a huge range of hotels (2.5M travel deals, 200 countries, 50,000 destinations). Sites searched include companies such as Booking.com, Expedia, LastMinute, Priceline etc, and hotel chains include Hilton and Intercontinental. It is free to use and you click through to book directly from the hotel or travel sites you choose.
Alternative Sites: some of the following search/booking sites, or hotel chains/regional hotel chains are not directly compared by hotels.via.us.com. However, they may still be listed via the brokers searched. Our links below are not recommendations; you should conduct your own checks to ensure that they are reliable and provide an appropriate quality of service. (last updated June 2010):
sletoH.com Similar to Hotels.Via.Us.Com, but search is less flexible and it appears to only search about 70,000 properties through 10 websites. However 3 of the websites searched are different to those on Hotels.via.Us.Com
HRS.com 250,000 hotels. It has a price match guarantee; though the likelihood of being able to use this seems small: Requirements: you have to email them within 24 hours of making your booking; and the reservation conditions must be exactly the same.
Hotel.info 210,000 hotels. It has a "Best Price" guarantee, I'm not a lawyer, but but looking at the T&Cs my understanding is it is not a guarantee to beat competitors, but merely to quote the lowest price their agent offers, e.g. if a hotel quotes two prices you will be offered the lowest one.
Travel Republic 70,000 hotels. Price match promise similar to HRS.
vivastay 60,000 hotels (may be able to get bulk discount for 6 rooms plus).
TravelNow.com no "About Us" page that I could see, so I can't advise on the number of hotels on their books etc.
Premier Inn (UK) N.B. We tested out Hotels.Via.Us.Com on one city and found that as well as other hotels the Premier Inns were listed (at the same room price). However, if a Premier Inn is your preferred choice, then it may be worthwhile checking this site for meal deals that may not be included in the room options via the search engine.
Thomson hotel deals
roc-hotels.com a family hotel chain with a total of 7 hotels in Majorca, Minorca,Costa del Sol
Thistle hotels UK wide acomodation
Scandic Hotels Scandinavia and Northern Europe
Travel Intelligence Luxury and boutique accommodation and luxury travel. Mentioned in Timesonline 2009 best travel sites.
Holiday Extras UK Airport Hotels (with/without parking), also offers airport parking, airport lounges, insurance and car hire.
Bed and Breakfast(last updated 15 July 2010):
We were expecting small business owner with B & Bs to be catered for by a separate website market to the above, but we didn't come across any sites that bettered the major websites mentioned above.
Hotels.Via.Us.Com We think this is best for this market as well as hotels (some of the brokers it searches "specialise" in this area).
bedandbreakfastworld.com We had high hopes for this site because it is a sister site of HostelWorld.com which we really like. However, it only has 7,000 properties worldwide, and every location we tried failed to list any accomodation (probably okay for capital cities etc).
bnb select (UK) in comparison with the above - not a wide selection and not particularly cheap. Poor interface (e.g. no price sort facility, and if you select a hotel from the listing the booking date is reset to todays date, so you could book the wrong day in error).
You may find BnBs not listed elsewhere on official city and town tourist information sites, or in local website directories.
Six years ago I was a fan of Tripadvisor. It still offers the largest set of reviews and can be worth checking for specific hotels. Note: anyone can add a review to Tripadvisor, with no evidence of booking, and you will see complaints on the net about the genuineness of reviews. I no longer find it easy to navigate their site and I think "booking" through them is a nightmare (see rant at the bottom of this section).
Most of the major booking sites have now built up large databases of customer reviews from people that have actually booked through them. However, they will often be less detailed than those on Tripadvisor.
You can also "search" for prices via Tripadvisor, but I found it to be the most frustrating facility of all those I tested:
It does little more than link you to booking sites in a confusing way. e.g. a search for Rome on a particular date, lists each hotel with "rooms available for under £xx" if I clicked "check rates" I was presented with a pop up listing booking sites but giving no indication of the rate each offered. If I clicked check rates again, I was either bombarded by the site opening nine new separate browser windows (one for each booking site), or sometimes another pop-up on which I had to manually click to open new windows one by one. Then when I checked the windows, some would not display the hotel (not available) or present me with another listing of Rome hotels (I don't know if the hotel was unavailable through that company, or just beyond page 3 in various sort orders I tried, at which point I gave in). Last updated June 2010.
Next UpdateThe next update will cover Apartments, Holiday Cottages and Villas. N.B. the price comparison engine and some of the other links above also list apartments and villas.
last updated 15/07/10 | Author: Andy W+