Chances are pretty good that you have booked a stay through Booking.com, or at the very least searched for something. If not then you are either one of those caravan / motorhome addicts who never stay in a hotel room, never left home, or one of the 27 people in the world who don’t have access to the internet.
As serious travellers who get away whenever time and money allows, we are always looking to get the best value for money, especially when it comes to where we sleep.
Don’t get me wrong, we are not looking for the cheapest “roach motel” in the area but we also don’t need gold plated toilet seats, tuxedo wearing hotel staff or to sleep on a bed so soft it may well be stuffed with actual geese. Unless it is discounted to a crazy low price of course.
If you book any accommodation through our Booking.com links we may earn a small commission. This does not cost you any extra and will still be getting the best possible price.
Why we use Booking.com
We do search other hotel sites to find the best deals but more often than not the links take us back to Booking.com or we find they have the best price anyway.
The range of options
We also love that they search beyond just the usual range of hotels, with so many other types of accommodation coming up in the search results. Gone are the days when you had to check different sites for B&Bs, apartments, cabins, etc. Now all the options are on the same screen.
Easy to access loyalty discounts
Every booking website seems to have a variation of loyalty discounts but we like that to qualify on Booking.com is not only quick and easy but the range of accommodations with a discount applied is quite varied. Not just the most expensive places or the rubbish nobody wants to book.
The program is called Genius and you automatically qualify after just five bookings and have two years to achieve this. From then on any time you search a location the first results shown will be properties with the additional discount.
View your full itinerary
As the main researcher and planner in the family it was quite annoying when booking a lot of hotels for a long trip to go back and find that I had made a date mistake and overlapped some hotels. A waste of time and so frustrating.
Those days are behind me when I book with Booking.com as it tracks the full itinerary and will even warn you when dates overlap, before you finalise the booking.
If you want to review an individual booking or search that same date range for a new hotel you can access it quickly from the itinerary at the top of the page.
And this section has another helpful addition, a few suggestions on where you may wish to go after the last place you book. Perfect for freewheeling road trips.
Payment options to help your trip planning
Whether you are putting a trip together and trying to get a better idea of the price or just want to hold in in the last room of a great deal on a whim, Booking.com’s pricing options are the perfect tool for travel planners.
You may find your top pick has a Genius discount but even without this you will often see two prices for the same room.
- a non-refundable price for those who are definitely going and want to save some dollars.
- a fully refundable price where you have the option to cancel without penalty, usually right up to just a day or two before your arrival.
Insider Tip : start with the refundable option while you are doing your planning and as the trip approached do a final search for any hot last minute offers and change over to the non-refundable best deal.
How we use filters for road trip planning
There is one big difference between searching for somewhere to stay on a road trip and when we do not have a car available… location. No car means we either need to stay very close to the main area we want to explore, or an area that has easy public transport options to get us there.
On a road trip the location is much less important and free car parking becomes a more valuable criteria. No point saving $10 on a hotel and having to pay $30 for parking!
Having the car gives us that extra flexibility to stay a bit further out, get a nicer place for our money and still be able to get in and out of town when we want to.
Set your minimum review standard
Booking.com has the option of choosing only properties with an overall review score above a certain number. Of course we would always want to stay in a place that people review at least 9/10 but more often than not these places are either the most expensive or way off the beaten track.
Set the level at 7+, or 8+ if the site tells you there are plenty of options for you. Truth be told most places are probably better than the review score suggests as the internet attracts more people that complain that praise.
Decide on your budget for this stay
If there are a few options at the lowest price range it’s always worth limiting the results to just those to see if anything is suitable at a bargain basement price. Sometimes you get lucky.
You will often find these cheaper options are on the edge of town or a little further out. On a road trip this should by no means be a deal breaker. If none of the options do it for you deselect the lowest price range and select the next higher one.
Limit the location to search
There is a couple of ways to do this:
- Select a location rating score. We do not use this unless we have no idea about the good and bad parts of town, but we prefer to do some outside research rather than letting Booking.com choose our best location.
- You also have the option of selecting a specific part of town or a landmark to narrow your search. This can be useful to those who have done that extra bit of research and now know the area they prefer to stay.
- Use the MAP VIEW option. This is our usual way of searching because of the flexibility. The results update as you move the map around and it’s a great way to start in your prefered area and then expand the area looking for nearby bargains.
Check the options in Popular Filters
This section shows a list of the most selected filters so there is a pretty good chance you will want to use one of them at least. Maybe you want a place that includes breakfast or, especially for road trippers, somewhere that has parking vailable.
Plenty of other options
There are so many more options to limit your search results but to be honest we rarely if ever use them. You can select certain star ratings of the properties but frankly we don’t care about this.
While it is a common misconception that the more stars means a better place this is not always true. Star ratings are based on different criteria in various parts of the world and usually more about the amenities and number of staff than actual comfort. A pool and a restaurant add an extra star but the rooms may be uncomfortable.
Many places do not even have a set rating criteria at all and are allowed to self rate. We prefer to read reviews rather than be guided by an unregulated star rating system.
Another option some may find handy, although we rarely use either, is the property type. We don’t wan’t to limit our search to just hotels when we might then miss out on an amazing B&B or Guesthouse.
The only time we have really used this option is when we want our relax and recharge time and would limit the result to Resorts.
A great set of options here for any travellers with limited mobility or other conditions that mean the wrong features in a room could ruin your trip. Need wheelchair access or a handrail in the shower, the option is there.
There are also a couple of handy options here for all travellers especially if you don’t feel like dragging your luggage up flights of stairs after a big day. Simply choose a room on the ground floor or only places that have lifts to higher floors.
Dean’s Top Tip – Read the Reviews
… but don’t believe everything you read! I have been in the travel industry for quite a while now and for a large chunk of that was a face to face travel agent, so I know first hand how petty some complaints can be about hotels. And that is even more obvious online.
I remember reading a review that gave 1/10 on a place that had an overall rating of around 8. The review went on to say the room was clean, the staff friendly, breakfast was fantastic and the location couldn’t be better, and I was waiting for the bombshell that destroyed all the good work.
Well it seems the reviewer was disgusted that the sheets were not changed every day!
Not that the bed wasn’t made daily but the actual sheets not changed. It made me wonder what they were doing on the sheets.
Getting to my point, it is important to learn some tricks on how to filter out the stupid comments and find the imformation that should help you pick the perfect place.
- I always ignore any reviews by a first timer. Chances are pretty high that an unusually bad review was done by a competitor and a strangely glowing review by a friend. The more reviews someone has done the more credible their opinion.
- I also read (and then usually ignore) any review that is way better or worse than most others. It’s either lazy reviewing or someone like the dirty sheet guy with an unrealistic expectation.
- Another thing I have found is to check the nationality of the reviewer. Sure I am doing a bit of generalisong here but Americans tend to review European hotels harder than anyone else, and vice versa. Australians are generally pretty accurate as we just want a good holiday and to tell people what we really thought.
- Look for trends. A hotel may have a rating over 8 and looks like great value for money, but if the last five reviews are much lower and they all all mention the same issue then it may be time to look elsewhere.
Try it for yourself
Do a quick search for somewhere you would like to go just to see how easy it is?