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There are a few things to consider when choosing to book hotels direct or book through a booking app such as hotels.com or booking.com. You might think that booking direct will always be cheaper however in my experience there isn't usually much difference. In fact in some instances it has been more expensive to book direct, however I must add that this varies w
You also need to consider the convenience of using an app, you can keep all your bookings in one place, and you can usually build up rewards if you stay loyal to one app.
I personally prefer to book using an app and so on this page I will be going through the two apps that I use.
For many years I have used the Hotel.com app to book all of my hotels, I have always raved about the rewards programme and the prices available, however that been said, on my last couple of trips to Albania and Romania, I have found the hotels.com app quite disappointing as i have struggled to find many hotel options in these areas.
When I was in Albania I started to use booking.com instead, it was quick and easy to use and although I do personally prefer the layout of the hotels.com app I much prefer booking.com for more options.
I have used hotels.com for many years and I'm currently a HotelRewards gold member, this basically means that for some hotels I get lots of special benefits such as complimentary upgrades, early and late check-in and other treats.
I always stuck with hotels.com because you get a 'stamp' every time you book and after 10 stamps you get a free hotel night.
Is it only very recently when I visited Albania and Romania I found that I was struggling to get good coverage that I also started to use booking.com too but I do tend to use hotels.com more frequently
Booking.com is one of the largest travel marketplaces in the world. I am still relatively new to booking.com but so far it has been a good experience, the app is easy to use and they also have a reward programme called Genius Loyalty Programme.
The great thing about this programme is that it lasts a lifetime so if you don't travel for a long spell you won't lose your levels like you do on hotels.com.
Overall hotels.com and booking.com are both very competitive and using either of these will make your travelling easier.
Once I have found a cheap flight my next job is to do what I call a 'soft search' which basically means having a quick look on one of my booking apps to see how much the average hotel costs in the area I would like to visit.
You can get a strong idea of the costs of a city by scanning through a few hotel options, at this stage I usually favourite or heart a few that I like that are within my budget.
At this point if I am happy with the approximate hotel costs and my other due diligence (see Itinerary planning) I will go back to Skyscanner and book my flights but at this stage I won't yet book a hotel.
Booking a hotel is usually one of the very last things I do... why I hear you cry? In my experience hotel prices decrease quite a lot the closer you get to the date you want to stay and so I have always waited as long as possible to book my hotel. Of course this has sometimes backfired in the past and that lovely little hotel I had my eye on has become fully booked but overall I have always found this the best way to book my trips.
This tactic also gives you so much more flexibility and the option of changing plans at the very last second which is something I frequently do.
When looking for a hotel I always try and stick to a £50 per night budget, in some cities this just isn't possible but will you be surprised at what you can find when you search last minute.
When looking on the app I set my filters to the following:-
Guest rating - very good 8+
Property class - I select 3*, 4* and 5*
Sort by - Price
By doing the above I am trying to find the cheapest but best hotel I can find.
Booking a hotel for a road trip is a whole other ball game and in my opinion very exciting!
Depending on when my flight arrives depends on whether I book my first night in advance, for example, if I arrive into a country after tea time (thats dinner time for you guys in the south) I will book my hotel in advance so I know as soon as I land I have somewhere to go.
If my flight is an early flight and I arrive in the morning I will leave booking a hotel until I know where I am going, take a look at the road trips page to see how I plan.
Don't be afraid to ask for an upgrade, when you check in be cheeky and say something like 'don't suppose there is any chance of an upgrade?' you never know what you might get!
If you have booked your hotel in advance don't be afraid to email the hotel ahead of your arrive and ask for an upgrade, maybe you have an ocassion you're celebrating, let the hotel know and you might get some extra treats.
Booking at the last moment might seem scary however in my experience I have never struggled to get a hotel. After you have travelled like this a few times it will become a lot more comfortable. Remember, life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
If you book a hotel that comes with free shampoo and other little freebies make sure you take it all with you, especially if you're on a road trip. These little extras really do come in handy and even if you don't use them on that partiular trip make sure you take them home as they always come in useful for future trips. I have an entire drawer at home just full of hotel freebies.
This is my excuse, at the grand old age of 36 I feel that my hostel days are firmly behind me. While I strongly believe that hostels are fantastic places to meet fellow travellers and save a LOT of money, I personally much rather have my own space and more importantly my own bathroom!
Whilst on my travels I still like to check out the local hostels and see whats available, they really have come on leaps and bounds over the last 15 years and there are some fantastic hostels out there.
Hostels have lots of different rooms available, some are male or female only and some are mixed, they come in lots of different sizes such as rooms for 4 people or rooms for 20 and everything in between.
Usually in a hostel you get a bed space, a locker and a shared bathroom to use, there is also some communal areas such as a shared kitchen, lounge area etc and some even have a bar or cafe/restaurant on site like the one I stayed at in Zagreb.
The things you have to consider when choosing a hostel vs hostel are:-
Prices vary greatly but you can find decent hostels that start at just £10 per night sometimes even less depending on the city you are in and the time of year you are travelling. If you answered yes on any of the statements above then maybe you should give hostels a go!
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