There are hundreds of online hotel booking engines to choose from and there are slight-to-huge differences when sites are placed side-by-side. A hotel may be more affordable on Site A compared to Sites B and C, or a website may have more options than others. When choosing a booking website though, what weighs out is the prospective traveler's motivation for booking, and his/her travel preferences.
Nomadic Matt, author of the bestseller "How to Travel the World on $50 a Day," once did an experiment comparing six hotel booking websites. He finds, "Hotels have a variety of rates: prepaid, flexible, corporate, discounted, and more. And while rates go up and down based on demand, they don't (luckily) swing as widely as airline prices. They are a bit more static." This finding is good news for travelers who would want to start with a levelled ground when comparing a listing on different websites.
Which sites are best for booking hotels? Here is a quick guide:
Preference 1: "I want a budget hotel"
The best website for budget hotel listings is Trivago.com. The site is constantly updated with special offers and deals, and by default shows the cheapest hotels on top. The only caveat is a buyer would have to read the listing carefully, as some listings end up being affordable because the room offered has no window, no breakfast, or no free parking.
Preference 2: "I have to book the last minute"
The best websites for rushed bookings are LateRooms.com and LastMinute.com. Both sites offer many listings within the same budget and amenities range for those bookings that have to be decided on quickly. Booking on these sites are also more straightforward and minus the page clutter, as they are designed for the 'rushed' traveler.
Preference 3: "I have a flexible budget and I want to check out my options"
Hotels.com offers the widest variety of listings, ranging from one-star to five-star hotels. This site is built for the traveler who wants to take his/her time in choosing a hotel, as the filters offered are generous as well. Filters include TripAdvisor reviews, hotel amenities, budget range, location, and distance from popular sites. Hotel searches can also be filtered using holiday options, such as for family, outdoors, food trips, long drives, and shopping among others.
Choosing the best hotel booking website all boils down to one's personal preference for hotel stays. Nomadic Matt adds that while third-party booking sites offer better deals than booking directly with hotels, these sites can't let a traveler earn hotel points. On the same note, travelers can earn points on these sites' own point systems, albeit with less rewards.