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- Best Overall: Booking.com "The site has a reputation for reliability and is amazingly easy to use, thanks to its simple, clean interface."
- Runner Up, Best Overall: Hotels.com "You can choose the type of hotel you’re looking for, whether that’s a boutique spa, a motel, or even an adventure hotel."
- Best Aggregator: HotelsCombined "HotelsCombined refunds the difference if you find a hotel listed cheaper elsewhere, so you can be sure you’re getting the best deal."
- Best Reviews: TripAdvisor "TripAdvisor does remarkably well in delivering lower-than-average prices, since the site is always aggregating the best options around."
- Best Budget: Hostelworld "With more than 12 million verified guest reviews to back its 36,000 properties up, you won't be led astray by these hostels."
- Best Blind Booking: Hotwire "By booking blind, you not only keep the sense of adventure alive but also receive some incredible discounts."
- Best for Planning Trips: Expedia.com "When you click on a hotel, you’ll see its amenities, conveniences, room options, and everything about the hotel’s location."
- Best Luxury: Mr & Mrs Smith "With a membership, you’re entitled to year-round offers and experiences, and extras like champagne and spa trips."
- Best in Asia: Agoda "The site is known for returning the most options and best prices for properties across all of Asia."
- Best Alternative: Airbnb "Airbnb encourages you to become a temporary member of the local community, and the site has over seven million homeowner-listed properties."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Booking.com
A tried-and-true traveler favorite, Booking.com has over 29 million listings in 227 countries and territories. The site has a reputation for reliability and is amazingly easy to use, thanks to its simple, clean interface.
When compared with competing sites, it typically finds at least double the number of results for any given destination and often delivers the best price for a specific hotel. The website offers a bunch of different ways to search for the best options. In addition to conventional hotels, the site also lists vacation rentals, apartments, B&Bs, and hostels, making it a good fit for every type of traveler.
Despite the sheer number of results, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for by using search filters that include budget, star rating, facilities, property type, neighborhood, and distance from the city center. If you have a specific trip in mind, enter your chosen destination, dates, the number of adults and children in your group, and the required number of rooms. You can also browse listings by destination or property type instead if you’re in need of inspiration.
Each listing also includes verified reviews from previous guests. Best of all, prices include taxes and charges from the start so there are no hidden costs.
Runner Up, Best Overall: Hotels.com
Hotels.com, one of the longest-running hotel listing sites, is still going strong today with over 300,000 different hotel listings in almost 20,000 locations. That wealth of offerings you’ll have plenty of options to choose from when you’re starting to book your trip.
The website’s excellent search engine function helps you narrow down your options by adding categories like which landmarks you’d like to stay by, which neighborhood you want to be in, and which amenities you’d prefer. You can even choose the type of hotel you’re looking for, whether that’s a boutique spa, a motel, or even an adventure hotel.
Once you find the hotel that’s right for you, you’ll be able to read hotel overviews and reviews right on Hotels.com, getting all the information you need to decide if it’s worth booking or not.
Hotels.com will also help you figure out just what you want to do on your trip. The site offers select vacation packages that come with both flights and adventures like tours, shows, or spa trips included. If you’d like to plan a bit further than that, though, you can still browse the “Things to Do” tab to flesh out your trip’s itinerary.
Best Aggregator: HotelsCombined
HotelsCombined is a metasearch engine, which means that it compares listings from online travel agencies like Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Agoda, as well as from major hotel brands like Hilton and AccorHotels. So, when you search for a hotel (either by using its specific name or by entering your chosen destination and dates), the results will list the best prices from a number of different third-party sites. Click on the link and you’ll be redirected to the third-party site to make your booking.
The downside of this system is that prices and availability sometimes change in the time it takes to be redirected, so you’ll occasionally encounter higher prices or sold-out rooms by the time you try to make payment. However, HotelsCombined does offer a "Best Price Guarantee" that refunds the difference if you find a hotel listed cheaper elsewhere, so you can be sure you’re getting the absolute best deal.
Listings for each property show an overall review score, the distance from the city center, photographs, and a map. You can also choose to view prices including or excluding tax, and you can filter results by price, star rating, type, amenities, and more, to really narrow down your search.
Best Reviews: TripAdvisor
Popular review site TripAdvisor is a great option for those that like to read about other travelers' experiences before choosing a hotel. The process is easy; first, enter your destination, then select the “Hotels” tab at the top of the page. The results can be ordered a number of ways including Best Value and Price.
Choose the Traveler Ranked option to see hotels listed according to the number and quality of their reviews. If you’re looking for something more in-depth than that, you can also pin down your options by using a long list of filters, including budget, amenities, property type, and star-rating.
Each hotel listing shows the cheapest third-party rate at first glance, and when you click on it, you’ll see a comparison of prices and booking links from companies like Booking.com and Agoda.
The listing also includes an overview of the hotel, a gallery of photos, and a list of traveler reviews. You can filter the reviews by rating or traveler type, or use the search bar to look for a particular word or phrase. If you need something specific like accessible options, a great spa, fitness facilities, or a wealth of food options, it’ll be easy to find what you’re looking for.
TripAdvisor often has fewer listings than its competitors but does remarkably well in delivering lower-than-average prices, since the site is always aggregating the best options around.
Best Budget: Hostelworld
If you’re a budget traveler looking for a hostel or cheap hotel, Hostelworld is the hotel booking site for you. It lists 36,000 properties in 178 countries, with more than 12 million verified guest reviews to back them up, so there are tons of options to choose from, and more than enough information to know you’re making the right choice.
The site’s search engine lets you look for a specific property, enter your chosen destination, dates, and search for rooms by the number of people in your party. Click “enter” to view a list of hotels by top amenities, traveler rating, and distance from the city center, so everything you’ll need is visible at a glance for easy comparison. Starting prices for dormitories and private rooms are also shown.
You can filter the results in several ways, including by room type – options include accommodations like en-suite family rooms and all-female dorms – and by payment type. A list of checkable amenities includes backpacker priorities like free breakfast, cooking facilities, and a lack of curfew.
Once you click on a listing, you’ll be able to read a Hostelworld description of the property, in addition to overviews provided by the property owners, and other traveler’s reviews. Choose your room type and receive instant confirmation without paying any booking fees.
Best Blind Booking: Hotwire
Hotwire’s search engine is pretty much the same as any other hotel booking site: simply enter your chosen destination, dates, and guest details, and voilà.
But after that, the similarities end. You can opt to view Standard Rate Hotels, in which case you’ll get a regular list of hotels with useful details including the starting price, traveler rating, and location.
You can also opt to view Hot Rate Hotels. These listings include the hotel’s star rating, traveler rating, general location, and price per night, but they don’t show you the hotel’s name until after you book. By booking blind, you not only keep the sense of adventure alive but also receive some incredible discounts.
Still, if the idea of booking blind is a little intimidating, don’t worry. Some Hot Rate Hotel listings give you peace of mind by including a list of three hotel names and the guarantee that yours will be one of them. Either way, Hotwire won’t lead you astray, and the blind listings are sure to be a great stay, with options including everything from luxury villas to quaint B&Bs.
Best for Planning Trips: Expedia.com
Once a division of Microsoft, Expedia became an independent company in 1999 and has since become one of the largest hotel websites in the world. Because the company has been in the hotel aggregator business for a long time, it really knows what makes for the best user experience, while still delivering as many options as possible.
Yet, despite the massive amount of choice available, you’ll be sure to find what you’re looking for thanks to the extensive search features available on the site. Expedia lets you sort hotels by options like price, distance from the airport, and the site even recommends popular filters based on the city you’re looking at.
When you click on a hotel, you’ll see its amenities, conveniences, room options, and everything about the hotel’s location. From there, you can narrow things down even more with check-in dates, guest reviews, and payment types.
Of all the websites on this list, Expedia.com is the most diversified when it comes to servicing your travel needs. Visitors to the site can a hotel to stay in, but also entire flight packages, car rentals, and even cruises.
Best Luxury: Mr & Mrs Smith
With just over 1,600 hotels and villas on its carefully curated roster, Mr & Mrs Smith specializes in exclusive, ultra-luxurious properties for the discerning traveler. Hotels cannot pay to be listed on the site instead, properties must be invited after passing an anonymous review by one of the company’s in-house travel specialists. The vetting process is strict, so when it comes to luxury hotels, only the best of the best are on the site.
Most of the listings are boutique hotels, and many offer unique accommodations, with options including treehouse hotels and tropical retreats with both overwater and underwater rooms.
Search for your dream hotel by entering your chosen destination and dates. The resulting list includes an overview of each hotel with a short phrase detailing the style, setting, and total price. Click for a more detailed description or to make your booking. If you need inspiration, peruse the “Offers” tab, which groups deals by destination, time of year, and collections like “Gourmet Getaways,” “Spa Stays,” and “Romantic Honeymoons,” that make it easier than ever to find the hotel that’s right for whatever occasion you want.
Mr & Mrs Smith is a membership club, but entry-level membership is free. As a member, you’re entitled to year-round offers and experiences, and a Smith Extra with every stay — which could be something as decadent as a free spa treatment, or a bottle of champagne.
The site offers a best price guarantee and doesn’t charge booking fees.
Best in Asia: Agoda
Founded in Thailand and headquartered in Singapore, Agoda lists more than two million properties located all over the world. The site has earned a reputation for outperforming other hotel booking sites in Asia, as it’s known for returning the most options and best prices for properties on the continent.
You can search for a specific property, or enter a destination accompanied by your chosen dates, guest details, and required number of rooms. Results can be sorted in a variety of different ways, including “Best Match,” “Lowest Price First,” and “Secret Deals.” Use the long list of filters — including budget, star rating, facilities, payment options, and property type to narrow down the selection before clicking on a potential match.
Agoda also offers rates on flights, airport transfers, and homeowner-listed vacation rentals, so your whole journey can be organized on just one site alone.
Best Alternative: Airbnb
For a completely different accommodation experience, ditch conventional hotels in favor of a vacation rental. Airbnb encourages you to become a temporary member of the local community, and the site has over seven million homeowner-listed properties to choose from. Some are entire properties that you’ll have all to yourself, while others are private rooms in the owner’s own house.
To find your dream rental, enter your chosen destination and dates, then use the site’s impressive array of filters to narrow down the results. You can set a budget limit, choose a specific property type, state your preferred host language, and select must-have amenities, like a kitchen, a pool, or laundry facilities.
Still can’t decide? Look for the Superhost badge which denotes highly-rated owners with a commitment to providing awesome stays. Or, choose from a selection of curated Airbnb Plus properties. The latter is especially high-quality properties that have been verified by an in-person inspection. In addition to standard homes, condos, and villas, you’ll find some really unique listings including yachts, treehouses, tipis, and igloos.
Airbnb also offers traveler reviews, a secure payment platform, and 24-hour customer service, so you’re in good hands when it comes to choosing a place to stay.