The global sharing economy has unlocked a whole new world of home-away-from-home experiences. As a result, hotels have lowered prices and introduced fantastic award programs to stay competitive. I’ve provided my favorite travel sites and companies to book hotels, apartments or homes for the best possible price and value. Enjoy!!
1.Booking.com. We have found some great apartments and hotels through this site. I haven’t found a hotel booking site (expedia, hotels, hotwire) that has the same level of service or options. It will give you the most options for reserving now and paying later. This way, you’re not locked into anything just because you’d like to plan in advance.
Travel Pro Tip: If you are booking a hotel specifically, use booking.com to narrow down the search. Then call the hotel directly to book. You may pay a little more booking directly through the hotel but you can get perks like asking for upgrades, a quiet room away from the elevator and add-ons such as breakfast or discounts at local restaurants etc. They will treat you much better and allow upgrades if you book directly through them. If you book with a third party site you’re at the bottom of the barrel.
2. BetterBidding.com. If you are literally willing to gamble your way to a hotel deal, this site will show you the way. I used this to book a hotel in Barcelona and got a wonderful deal for less than $120 a night at the Silken Diagonal just a short walk from the Sagrada Familia.
3. AirBnB is the most widely known sharing economy site. However if you’ve never used it, there are some things you should know. First, hosts can cancel your stay. I know of a few people who were out of luck when their hosts suddenly canceled their stay just weeks before. I also wasn’t aware of the “house rules” which in some cases means you need to clean the space yourself before you leave. Sheets washed, bed made,etc. We got a not so great review from a host in Denmark because we weren’t aware of these rules, so don’t expect a hotel experience with fluffy white bathrobes and a turndown service.
Travel Pro Tip: Get insurance if you book a house or apartment from a third party insurance company like insuremytrip.com
4. Marriott. Because of their recent merger with SPG, Marriott now includes a HUGE portion of the world’s hotels and you can usually nab some good deals through their booking tool or use points from a credit card offer like their current 100k point offer.
5. HotelTonight. The few times I have needed a last minute hotel and when I flew as a non-rev to Europe, this app will get you some pretty amazing deals last minute. Always keep this one in your back pocket if your trip is unexpectedly interrupted.
If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll want to book hotels 6 months in advance. Otherwise, you can stick to 3 months for domestic bookings.