Arranging a holiday, weekend break or business trip can be a time-consuming and stressful activity. To make life easier, online booking sites are a great way to quickly find the right accommodation with the minimum of fuss. Here are 10 of our favourite hotel booking sites so that they next time you need to plan a getaway it won’t feel like a mammoth undertaking.
For more ways to save time and money, we also explain how to get a cheap flight online.
Thought we haven't included it as a service below, a great way to search for a hotel is to use Google Maps.
It works well on both laptops and phones: tap the pink hotels button in the Explore tab and it will overlay the map with prices so you can see where the hotels are located (the most useful part) and how much they charge per night.
Click on one and a sidebar will display more details and it will also show how much you can book it for with quite a few of the services we recommend below.
Best hotel booking sites
- Secret Escapes
- Huge selection of hotels
- Comprehensive filtering system
Booking.com offers nearly 29 million listings in 227 countries and territories around the world at the time of writing. Searching for places to stay is straightforward, in that you enter a location and the site then lists all relevant properties. These can be slimmed down through the various filter options that include star ratings, distances from city centres, parking, local activities, property type and so on.
When you decide on a particular listing, you’ll be presented with further details about the place itself as well as information about the nearest landmarks, restaurants, airports, areas of natural beauty, and more.
Booking.com also offers a loyalty scheme that includes various rewards, plus you can sign up for email notifications that will let you know of any new properties or discounts. Should you require even more information then there is the new Travel Communities area where you can ask questions about a certain area and receive tips from fellow travellers.
- Interesting reward scheme
- Group bookings
An obvious choice if you're looking to book a hotel, Hotels.com offers a wide range of locations around the world where you can stay. Search is the standard bar across the top of the page where you can input the country, city or general area, plus the dates you’ll be staying and number of people.
Results include prices displayed by the listing, something Booking.com requires an extra click to discover, as well as the TripAdvisor rating for each property. You can sort the results by star ratings, distance from particular attractions or landmarks, and of course by price.
There’s also the option to search for group bookings – such as a wedding party, work event, or larger family holiday – which takes the hassle out of planning a trip with friends or colleagues.
The Deals page hosts the latest available offers, which include last minute bookings, city breaks, and other seasonal reductions. You can also join the Hotels.com loyalty program that offers additional deals and the ability to be rewarded with free nights in locations by collecting points.
- Extra discounts with iOS & Android app
- Book excursions and attractions too
Expedia follows the format that you’d expect: booking strip along top of the page, filters to hone the results, plus the ability to also find flights and hire cars while searching for your hotel. One interesting addition is the feature of booking excursions, tours, or days out in your destination of choice. This might include a boat ride round an island or tickets to a theatre show.
The choice of locations is wide, as are the properties in which you can stay. The site regularly features sales on flights, out-of-season getaways, and other themed discounts. Signing up to a free membership brings reductions on prices for some properties and you’ll receive more via the emails promoting special offers.
Like most other large travel-comparison portals, Expedia has a rewards program where you accrue points by staying in rooms you book through the site. You should also download the Android or iOS app as it entitles you to double the reward points on all bookings.
- Simple interface
- Strong review system
TripAdvisor may be more well known for its user reviews than its actual ability to book holidays, hotels, cars, flights and other related products. But the site offers a comprehensive range of rooms and properties all across the world, gathered from many of the other sites on this list.
The interface is clean and well laid out, making it easy to access the information you need to decide whether a location is for you or not. These not only include details about the rooms themselves but also local restaurants (again with reviews), attractions, and transport links.
It doesn’t have the same bells and whistles as some of the other sites on this list, but if customer reviews are a high priority then TripAdvisor is hard to beat.
- Travel Articles about destinations
- Easy to use
The Trivago site takes a leaf out of Google’s design book, with a sparse white page and simple search bar making it clear what you’re meant to do. When results appear, they are equally smart, with a square-shaped image, price, review scores, and distance from the local major attraction or town.
Various filters or sorting criteria can be applied via the drop-down menus at the top of the page, including a slider to determine price per night, different styles of accommodation, guest ratings, location, and whether the property has items such as a balcony, fridge, free breakfast and several other considerations.
Trivago has a magazine section that contains a number of articles that highlight the charms of cities and rural locations all around the globe. So, if you want to know about the best spa breaks in the UK or weekend getaway, then it can be a good way to find out where they are and how to stay there.
- Innovative approach to accommodation styles
- Superhost system
Airbnb has only been around for a few years, but in that time it has turned the industry on its head. This is mainly due to its inclusion of rooms in people’s homes, cabins and other unusual styles of accommodation alongside the traditional guest houses, cottage and hotel chains.
This means you can often find places in the middle of town or cheaper rooms that would normally be lived in by the host and not available on other sites. Airbnb also uses a Superhost status for those who have garnered continually high ratings from visitors, ensuring that your stay should be safe and enjoyable.
It’s not just rooms though, as you can also look for experiences that include food tastings, sports activities, historic walks, photography, arts, and workshops that can add further value to your trip.
- Spectacular settings
- Decent savings on offer
If you’re looking for luxury travel destinations but don’t quite have the lavish funds required, Secret Escapes could well be worth a look. This site specialises in exotic and premium accommodation, but regularly features prices that don’t quite bring tears to the eyes. Make no mistake, these are not cheap trips, but you can save a bit of cash if you want to see the Northern Lights in Iceland, stay in a grand country house or enjoy an all-inclusive five-star break on the golden beaches of the Maldives.
Backed by the Escapist magazine, there are plenty of articles that highlight potential holidays for those who want something a little different.
- Aggregates hotels from other top sites
- Used by 400 million travellers
Much like Tripadvisor, Hotelscombined doesn’t offer its own service but instead searches other sites to find the best deals. These include Experia, Hotels.com, Bookings.com, and others. The upshot of this is that you can very quickly book somewhere without having to visit six or seven comparison sites.
Naturally, you won’t benefit from the membership and loyalty scheme unless you sign up for them on the individual outlets, but there’s no doubt that Hotelscombined should be bookmarked when you’re planning any kind of holiday or quick break.
- Clean interface
- Good selection of locations
Agoda is owned by Booking Holdings which also counts Bookings.com in its stable. As such, it doesn’t quite have the far-reaching features of its better-known sibling, but it does have plenty of charm and can be a fine choice if your focus is primarily on accommodation rather than excursions or other extras.
The simple interface makes it easy to search for listings, plus there is also a Family Mode that can be switched on to highlight properties that are good for kids. Homestays are another feature, offering accommodation closer to those found on Airbnb which can offer quite a significant reduction in cost over large hotel chains.
Agoda might be stripped back when compared to others in this roundup, but it’s a well-designed that’s worth your time.
- Cheap accommodation
- Interesting locations
Robust travellers looking for a bit of adventure rather than all the creature comforts should drag their overstuffed backpacks immediately to Hostelworld. Here you’ll discover a huge range of hostel accommodation spread throughout the world, from Prague to Hong Kong, all of which cost a fraction that you’d pay for a standard hotel.
The site also features plenty of guides to the various areas you might want to explore, with articles on where to eat, stay and visit. All bookings are confirmed immediately, feature reviews from previous visitors, and come with customer service assistance available in 19 different languages.