- Use a search tool that searches various websites for the best prices and deals
- Utilise any discounts that are available such as sign up offers, cashback or member prices.
- Don’t take reviews too seriously – look at a few and see the general consensus
So you’ve booked the flights, you know where you’re going, now for where to stay. The range and availability of accommodation have expanded greatly thanks to the likes of Airbnb to include more than just hotels, hostels and B&B’s on booking websites. The likes of Booking.com now includes apartments, homestays and campsites. This also means the price ranges are broader and more competitive since there is increased competition between booking websites.
Initially, I like to use Skyscanner as it searches various sites such as Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com, much like Trivago or Kayak. After I find somewhere that looks suitable, I tend to end up on Booking.com or Expedia. If you’re a regular user or sometimes just having an account on one of these sites you often get discounts such as Booking.com’s ‘Genius’ discount or Expedia’s member pricing.
I tend to stay in hostels or guesthouses and sometimes hotels. A feature I really like on Booking.com is the option to filter for private rooms only that appears at the top of the search results when looking for one person. Since I primarily travel solo, many of the accommodation options listed are mixed dorm hostels. I’m not opposed to sharing a bathroom but I like my own space in a bedroom. The vast majority of hostels have private single and double rooms with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. I do compare against the likes of Airbnb but more often than not, Booking.com comes up trumps on price and location.
Another site that came to my attention last year was Ryanair Rooms. I saw an advert on the side of a bus and was intrigued as to what it actually was. At first, it’s much like any other booking site that searches various accommodation providers. Sometimes it is cheaper than a comparable site for the same accommodation so I would advise comparing them both. The biggest bonus is that 10% of the cost is returned after the stay as ‘travel credit’ to be redeemed against future Ryanair flights. 10% doesn’t sound a lot but a few pounds or euros here and there really starts to build up and then deducted off a cheap flight can really make a difference.
Aside from price, consider if the location is suitable for your needs during the stay – it may be worth paying slightly more to stay close to where you’ll primarily be than forking out for transport every day. Also, do not make a decision solely based on reviews. I love reading TripAdvisor reviews, mainly because of disgruntled tourists who leave page long essays about how it was the worst place they had ever stayed and would never return. Yet below there are several other good (short) reviews that actually tell you about the accommodation rather than just their experience.
I have stayed in some very interesting (and sometimes questionable) places such a 3 metre squared cupboard and an AirBnB where the owner left the key behind a cash machine and the shower and toilet were literally at the foot of the bed.
Also remember to utilise referral or discount codes where available, usually for first-time bookings. It isn’t all about the first-timers though. New and existing users of Booking.com can gain Genius discount by completing several stays with Booking.com to earn special prices, free breakfasts and other offers.