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Ask HN: How do you book hotels?
45 points by martinbel on May 12, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 58 comments

Directly through the hotel websites that I have loyalty status at. Not a very useful answer but, hey, it's wildly common among business travelers so I thought I'd mention it.

I've come about face on this approach; which is what I always used to do. Now I find a shortlist of independent hotels via booking.com or lastminute, and then contact them directly for deals.

Usually you can get a higher quality service for a better price than chains.

One tip, though, is to barter - especially if you're travelling midweek. I've got some excellent deals (including free evening meals, room upgrades etc.) by bartering at short notice for rooms that otherwise the hotel wouldn't fill.

The best deal I got was a full suite, several free drinks, and free breakfast at a 5* London hotel for the price of one of their basic rooms.

You just need the balls to negotiate :D

Never book online if you can avoid it!

Back when I was a consultant on the road, we'd talk to the sales manager at the nearest Hilton (most of us were HHonors guys) and negotiate a group discount for the team. Even in metro areas we could generally get below $130 a night with perks thrown in.

Plus, they'd book all our reservations for us. We just cancelled the weeks we didn't need as we went.

I'm curious if there's a lot in it for them; for example, if you book through some third party, are they paying 20-30% in fees to the booking site to get you in the door?

Yes on sites like Expedia commission can get as high as that and hotels hate that. They'd rather actually talk to you and get to know you while you book and give you a discount than see you book online and them have to pay a high commission.

Not only that, but they have a significant markup on rooms. So if they can fill rooms otherwise empty they will be happy to cut the margins - because it is all extra money! Also, it means you'll probably come back next time.

I don't know much about Priceline: it definitely doesn't seem to do much for Canada at least. But I just wanted to "+1" this. Living where we live, the Hotwire prices really aren't 'secrets' as we pretty much know exactly which hotels are which on that site.

Anyway, as a lark we decided to compare Expedia, at least, against the website of the hotel that we always would stay at and we were really surprised to find that it was actually cheaper on their website than on Expedia. And like you say, you get the bonus of loyalty points.

Hotwire may have been cheaper, but normally we found that booking through the hotel you would get Wifi and sometimes parking included, as opposed to paying for them separately and those things always evened everything out.

The only time I found this not to be true was when we were booking the hotel on the day that we were planning on staying there... that kind of timeframe has always been cheaper to book through Expedia etc.

Hopefully not off topic, but I use Airbnb. This matches my budget, but if I had more money I would still use it and rent full apartments.

I search the postal code of the place I want to be in the city (a combination of work location, downtown, neat area of city, near transit, etc.). Then I use the map to zoom on the area.

I filter by price and review. Usually find a well priced, beautiful booking with a good location within 2-3 minutes. Then I contact the host.

I've had good experiences doing business travel with Airbnb, but it can be disturbingly non-deterministic; it takes a long time to get confirmation for a room that you're already uncertain about, and there's always a fair chance that when you arrive the room won't actually be available.

I always use booking.com if I can, and most of the time when a hotel isn't available through booking.com (which is rare) I try to find another that is.

To me booking.com is the amazon.com of hotel reservations: you know that you're going to be served perfectly, in a timely manner, at a great price (maybe not the absolute best price you can get, but usually very close).

I once booked a three-day stay at a hotel in Portugal in the middle of summer. I missed my flight because the train was delayed (in France you don't have a choice for trains so it's impossible to not use SNCF, but I sure promised myself to NEVER fly with Air France again!!)

I called booking.com and they managed to move the reservation (the hotel was full but they were still able to do it) and they called me back right when this was done.

The contrast between this level of customer care vs. what we got out of Air France (in short: "tough luck / fuck off") was staggering.

booking.com never disappointed me.

It may be convenient to book through a service like Hotwire, but before you book with one of those services, always call the front desk to see if you can strike up a better deal than just what's offered on Hotwire. Not sure why, but hotels seem to appreciate it when you just go straight to them, but that's just my experience.

They prefer it since when you book directly, no portion of your booking needs to be paid to a middleman.



or the hotel's website if I've been there before (and they have a booking page).

Mostly using http://www.google.com/hotelfinder/ which aggregates a lot of different sites.

I had no clue this existed.

Google really has too many services for their minimalistic UI these days...

I wonder how many others they have like this. I found https://www.google.co.uk/compare/carinsurance/form the other day which I never knew existed.

Probably many interesting 20% projects that are hosted in some way.

Their problem, as always, is they have no way to organize their interface. Google just simply (lol) isn't that good at UI design.

I travel a lot. I usually book through a particular travel agent who manages to book me into top end hotels for comparatively very cheap prices. The only snag is you have to jump on the phone to them because the hotels don't allow them to publish the rates online. The process can be a bit cumbersome if you want to get prices on several hotels but I always find that it's worth it. Email me if you want the company name and telephone number.

The other thing I do that is kind of risky is just rock up to a hotel on the day and try to get a good rate at the front desk. I'm at the Scottish Ruby Conference now and managed to get one of the best class of room here for less than my friend paid for his standard room. As a more extreme example last summer I turned up at the Ace Hotel in NYC hoping to lay my head down in one of their entry rooms for the night. Unfortunately they were fully booked except for the lofts which were ~$1500/night, there was no way I was prepared to pay that, and I talked them down to under $400. I called my friends and some girls and had a massive "house party" in my loft room. It was awesome! (pic - http://instagram.com/p/OdJmamMw2D/)

From the hotel perspective an empty room does not make them any money, they may as well have occupied even if it is deeply discounted.

Hope the party got better later--in this pic everyone seems awkwardly uncomfortable and sitting on their hands. Waiting for somebody to kick it off.

Drinks. The table needs to have some bottle service happening.

They look like they're just gathered for a photo to me.

I'm a student, so I spend less than 5 nights a year in a hotel (usually to/from internships or conferences). If I'm driving, I don't pre-book, I just show up and get a room. If I'm flying, I'll use Hipmunk to find a cheap place and book there. The last two nights, I was driving and picked the hotel closest to McDonald's so I'd get a quick breakfast before hitting the road.

Usually on Hotwire. With a little Google savvy and sites like Better Bidding you can almost always find out what the hotel is before you book it and the savings can really add up (often 40% or more). It's also handy for last minute bookings with the mobile app, I have gotten a room while being in the lobby of a hotel before (at a ridiculous price).

I usually try priorityclub.com (Intercontinental Hotel Group) first, because I collect their points, have by far the highest loyalty status at PC/IHG and Staybridge Suites is my favourite hotel chain. If there is no acceptable hotel nearby, I search using roomkey.com which is a site that only searchs for hotels owned by larger hotel chains (IHG, Best Western, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Starwood...). I have stayed at so many bad indedependent hotels that I really try to avoid them know. It's just not worth the trouble. If roomkey.com does not help, I would probably use HRS or Expedia, but I did not have to since I started using Roomkey.

In incognito mode of course! Haha but seriously, the last few times I booked I did it through cashback websites like Quidco. Laterooms.com which is my prefered booking site also offers cashback via quidco, so it's basically win-win.

My secretary calls hotels. Or, it's up to her.

Whenever looking for hotels in an area I check the TripAdvisor reviews. I usually end up trying to call the hotel and booking directly, but recently TripAdvisor has been slowly rolling out pricing info directly on the hotel page from Expedia, Orbitz, etc. so I used that a few days ago when I booked a room for last night.

I believe this functionality has been completely rolled out in the mobile (iPhone/Android) app if you want to check it out.

(Disclosure: I work for TA, but in a different department. However, I was a TA user before I joined the company, and continue to be one)

I go back and fourth between booking directly with the hotel by calling them, or through the hotel's websites. Mostly I prefer to call to try and negotiate a rate, unless its one of those places that has told me that they just don't do that. a while back I bookmarked this website and will use it again because its an aggrevator and coupons are easy to search for on there too: http://www.besttraveldealsomg.com/


Also try http://www.hotwire.com for better deals

A second vote for booking.com, great site.

I was literally saved by booking.com

Case in point: lost my flight (because of airport issues), this was a sunday evening, so no one at the airport to help you book a hotel.

Grab my phone, booking.com, search for hotels at that airport, ok fee, etc, gets a taxi there

Night of sleep saved.

If > 1 week, I use Airbnb. There's usually a discount for lengthy stayes. Less than than, it's not worth the hassle since most hosts require a specific time to meet up to exchange keys and instructions - which is difficult considering flight delays, new terrotories, no cell phone if you're out of the country.

I also use hotels.com, which is nice for its 10th or 11th night free stay in participating hotels.

I'll generally use a site like hotels.com to get feel for what hotels are available and what the general price level is, and then I'll call or email the hotel and book directly. I've never gotten a worse price and often gotten a better price. On the whole it just feels better to have had direct contact with someone at the hotel.

I always check the local Groupon page of where I’m travelling to. Most of the time, I can find a 4 or 5 star rated hotel that offers >50% discount.

If I can’t find a coupon, I research the hotels and prices on booking.com and then call the hotel to negotiate a lower price by booking directly.

If someone else is going to be paying for the hotel, I let them choose and book it so they can choose how much they spend.

If I'm paying for myself I check hotel aggregation websites, and check prices directly with hotels I've stayed at before or that have been recommended to me.

WeHostels app has the largest number of accommodations for less than $100 almost anywhere in the world (they include budget hotels, hostels, bed & breakfast, etc). Plus the app is really easy to use on the go. It's perfect for last minute budget travel.

I generally only stay at a hotel for a convention. I want to stay at the specific hotel for the convention, not a nearby one, which means that I pay more than I would like. Usually I book through the hotel with the Convention rate.

I travel a lot. I locate the place I'll be working at on Google Maps, then type 'hotels' in the search box to find nearby hotels. Find one that's part of the Hilton chain (I collect Hilton points), then book it via the Hilton Web site.

First Google maps to find hotels where I want them. Then go to hotel's website to compare rates.

Seems kinda barbaric but search sites don't list all the hotels. (Google does a little better, street view also helps)

I don't usually book in advance unless I know it's difficult to find a room in a specific area. Last time I remember booking a hotel, it was through Agoda.com (it's pretty big in Asia AFAIK).

Agoda is amazing in Japan. It's the only site we use here and we can usually find really good deals.

Google 'boutique hotel near x' or read a wallpaper guide. Call hotel directly, ask for corporate discount if AI expect to be in th city a lot.

Don't like chains as I find they have poor food and service.

I browse the visitor photos on tripadvisor and check out the neighborhood on google maps. it's the closest you can get to seeing each hotel without actually being there.

The WeHostels App. If that doesn't work, then the Hotel Tonight app. And if that doesn't work, then booking.com. I usually book last minute, as you can probably guess.

British Airways (and I assume other airlines too) let you add hotels to your flight and book through that. It's probably more expensive but it's easier.

Priceline's Name your price using strategies from the forums at http://www.betterbidding.com/

Booking.com. The UI is very good and you can compare prices very easily. If I want to learn more about the hotel I check it in TripAdvisor.

Hotels.com or booking.com usually, plus some review checks on Tripadvisor though I despise TA for their pop-unders.

I use agoda.com or asiarooms.com generally. Mind you, I live in asia, and primarily travel around here.

For most occasions I use HotelTonight. Had some amazing experiences with cheap last minute rooms.

Always filter the hotels through tripadvisor, then kayak, hotels.com, and the other majors

Last time I used laterooms.com.

I love the WeHostels app, it's super easy to use and the hostels are pretty nice.

hotels.com - Huge catalogue, fast to use, good photos, and TripAdvisor rating right there on the page.

They also do great cashback on Quidco regularly, and have their own loyalty program, so it's usually a great deal to go through them.

I booked my last trip through hipmunk. It was a good experience.

65 responses and nobody is saying AirBnB. Me neither.

Also many varied responses, mainly because you have a tech savvy pool of responses.

Expedia is the way to go for me

Mostly google "Hotels near X"

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