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Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

by KClabgirl Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 5:33 PM

As a newbie to VT, I want to say how grateful I am to all who have taken time to answer my questions. With reading, researching and help from you travel veterans, out trip is coming together nicely.
We have completed our itinerary and are searching for accommodations. Here is where I need your advice - again. Many hotels I am researching use booking services like Priceline, Travelocity etc. Typically for the USA, I use Tripadvisor to narrow my search then go directly to the hotel website to book but for Europe there isn't always an individual website. I have seen a widely used service for European hotels called Booking.com. Does anyone out there have any experience with this booking site? Good or bad?? If the hotel quote is listed as "free cancellation" is it really? Anyone had any difficulties using one of these sites?

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21 Answers
  • giampiero6's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by giampiero6 Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    Booking.com is owned by priceline. I haven't used it, but it's one of the big ones.

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  • Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by KClabgirl Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    Booking.com owned by Priceline... Is that good or bad?

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  • giampiero6's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by giampiero6 Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    I think it's fine. I just mention it because you mentioned having used Priceline before. I think you'll find similar policies and level of trust. If you liked priceline, I think you'll be ok with Booking.com. If you had problems, you might have similar problems. Like I say, I haven't used them, but they are definitely a popular brand and not a fly by night. can't guarantee that will be good, though ;)

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  • Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by KClabgirl Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    No, actually, I have never used Priceline before . I just look at prices they show and then go directly to the hotel itself and book directly- no middle-man so to speak. It's just a little different dealing with a foreign country with the language issue and all So many hotel sites are in German and even if a translation is offered , it is different than dealing with US hotels. I just want to know there won't be a hassle when we get to Switzerland and end up without rooms. Thanks. Maybe I'll try to research Bookings.com and see what is our there positive and negative.

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  • giampiero6's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by giampiero6 Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    I think you'll be OK with them in general, although you never know about the individual hotel.

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  • stamporama's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by stamporama Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    In my recent trip to Europe, I also tried to compare the rates offered between a hotel's own website or any of the general booking sites. If the hotel didn't have its own, then the general booking is the only place to go. Sometimes the latter offers a better deal-- lower room rate, free cancellation, etc. -- than what the hotel website states, sometimes they don't so one just has to research and compare.

    Other VTers may have their own preferred sites but for me I was quite satisfied with Venere.com for my hotel bookings. They do provide free cancellations so long as you take note of their cancellation policy.

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by goodfish Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    Yes, I've used booking.com and found it to be a very good, very easy site as have quite a number of other VT'ers. The customer reviews are also more trustworthy than on some others as you MUST have stayed at the hotel you're writing up: booking.com contacts YOU instead of any random person being able to contribute their 2-cents.

    But do make sure that no cancellation fees apply to the hotel you book (some do, some don't but are clearly marked), and any other fine print: standard stuff on booking sites.

    Venere also gets high marks from many of the folks here.

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by Dabs Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    I've used booking.com a lot, mostly in Europe, it's a good way to check what is available. Always check the prices against the hotel's own website which can possibly be cheaper and allow for picking a specific room at some of the smaller hotels. Double check availability even if booking.com says there is nothing available. We recently spent a couple of nights in Ft. Lauderdale at a hotel that booking.com said didn't have double rooms when they did.

    If you do cancel, be sure to keep the cancellation email that states that there is no cancellation charge, I just recently had a hotel still charge me for 1 night and am waiting on resolution from booking.com. This was the 1st time I had a problem, I've canceled a lot of reservations over the years and this was the 1st time I've had to contact them.

    Always bring a copy of your booking reference numbers, every so often a hotel can't find the reservation (true of any third party booking agent, not just booking.com). And if you accidentally book a wrong day like I did once, booking.com might not be able to fix your mistake but the hotel might,

    Read the fine print, the cancellation policy is clearly stated and it tells you what date you have to cancel by.

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by Dabs Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    And just to point out a difference on Priceline, there is also a blind bidding part to Priceline, I've also used that with a lot of success in larger cities like London and LA. But there are a lot of caveats to blind bidding like no changing, canceling etc.

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  • ViajesdelMundo's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by ViajesdelMundo Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 8:52 PM

    I have used Booking.com at least a couple times (or more) and have always found them to be good; even had to cancell once, altho it was several months in advance, and had no problem, a confirmation of same was sent immediately.

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  • scrooge1947's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by scrooge1947 Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    I did 2 weeks in Switzerland and booked all my own bookings direct, looked for smaller places and took a lot of work emailing several places for prices etc, in each location,travelling by train, I wanted accommodation to be in walking distance which made the location to be nice and central, worked very well but it took some effort.

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  • Mozumbus's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by Mozumbus Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 9:26 PM

    I have used booking.com and found that useful. as any other online shopping website I do a lot of attention to reviews so that the place matched with our preferences. So I would suggest taking that a facilitator rather than a trusted friend, and you will be fine imo...

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  • Redang's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by Redang Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    I always use booking.com as the first option to look for a hotel. Then, I look for the hotel website in case they have an offer. In the end, I use booking.com to book the hotel most of the times.

    Most of us, at least Europenas, are very fond of booking.

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  • Maryimelda's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by Maryimelda Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 10:17 PM

    I have been using booking.com for years and have had no complaints. I am always very careful to read the cancellation policy for each hotel which is always clearly stated. In many cases you can get a much cheaper rate if you are ready to gamble on not cancelling, but mostly it is probably a wise move to pay the extra for a "free cancellation".

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  • ATLC's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by ATLC Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    I also used booking.com. It's bonafide, it's good.

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by leics Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    Used booking.com loads of times for European and US hotels over the past 6 years or so and I've never had any problems at all. All my hotels have been exactly as I expected from the description and reviews on the site, the room I booked has been as I expected and I have paid the hotel the rate I expected when I made the reservation with booking.com

    As noted above: it's a well-established and bona fide site, it's got extensive listings in European cities, it doesn't take any money from you (you give your card number to confirm the reservation) and...

    ...*yes*, free cancellation means just that. BUT you need to read the hotel information page on the site. Cancellation varies (e.g. some 24 hours in advance, some 48) and some rooms are non-cancellable.

    If you cancel outside the allowed time then you will be charged, obviously, and the card number you give will be used by the hotel to make that charge.

    It is all made very clear indeed both on the pages and in the booking process, so it's only a matter of reading about your individual hotel before you book.

    I've only ever found one hotel where the rate on booking.com is very slightly higher (by a euro) than the hotel's standard rate.

    Another well-established and reliable European-based site is www.venere.com

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by leics Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    They don't 'suggest' hotels as such, IP. You choose the distance from x place in the box at the side and they list the hotels within that distance, initially by preference order. If you don't change that distance from e.g. 10 miles to e.g. 1 mile you will see hotels further out.

    You can then sort the results by e.g. 'price for single room'.

    If there are few hotels in a location the site will show other hotels further away on the first couple of pages, but the placename and distance are always clearly shown before you even click on the hotel info.

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  • Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by K_V_B Online Now Jan 29, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    Hotels might not always have a web page, but they always have a telephone. So don't hesitate to call (mind the time difference). You can expect the person picking up the phone to understand English.

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  • KakapoTheParrot's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by KakapoTheParrot Online Now Jan 29, 2013 at 3:12 AM

    A couple of benefits of booking.com not mentioned above are:

    1. If you're traveling with children you can explicitly state in the booking that you are doing so. I like venere.com but they don't have the option to state you have children with you.
    2. I see from my latest booking (2 days ago) that you get the option of printing off a booking confirmation in the local language as well as your own. Probably not an issue in Italy, but I thought it was a potentially useful feature.

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  • riorich55's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by riorich55 Online Now Jan 29, 2013 at 7:11 AM

    We used Booking.com last year for several of the places we stayed in Europe. I thought the reviews given by other people were well written and described the pluses and minuses of the properties very accurately. In one instance we had originally planned to stay 2 nights in Stresa, Italy. I booked a room for those 2 nights. About 1 week later we decided to stay an additional night. The hotel I booked was full on the 3rd night. I cancelled that hotel and took another one close by with no problems at all. Free cancellation was indeed free.

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  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    Re: Hotel Booking services- are they a good idea?

    by Beausoleil Online Now Jan 29, 2013 at 7:51 AM

    We have used Booking.com for years and love it. We've cancelled without problem and you don't pay until you get there. I check the location on Google Maps and reviews on trip advisor too. Never had a problem. Our other favorite is venere.com.

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