Hotels 101 - "Expedia are the cheapest, right?"

10 October 2008

The internet has liberated those of us born to travel the globe. No longer do we have to trudge down the high street and confer with gum-chewing computer illiterates who struggle to find our sunshine break in Magaluf.

In the days and weeks to come, Bitterwallet will peel back the layers of online hotel booking, to save you money every step of the way. For now, we'll ease you into making savings gently.

Limited experience of booking your accommodation online might suggest the big name portals are your first and only stop, with the best deals and discounted rates. Nope.

On the rare occasions you can't find a decent saving on HUKD, you've got to shop around, because no one site offers the best prices.

We've done some homework for you, and the results might come as a surprise.

In a nutshell:

  • don't assume that booking direct through hotel's website will be more expensive; we found plenty that offer better discounts for advance booking that beat the big boys
  • Hotels.co.uk and Expedia are one and the same company (as are Travelocity and lastminute.com) so don't waste time comparing the two
  • if you're on a tight budget, it's often worth checking hostelbookers.com; plenty of hostels have private rooms and some offer en-suite facilities
  • Plenty of hotels (and some of the portals) offer price guarantees on certain deals, which can mean even bigger discounts
  • Some deals have the extras stripped out, like breakfast and free wifi, to lower the price - check what's included in the price

We selected half a dozen hotels at random and compared prices, which include local taxes and fees, for one night's occupancy in a standard double room. Here's how we fared:

Hilton Olympia - London
Hostelbookers.co.uk - n/a
Hotels.co.uk - £89.30
Expedia.co.uk - £89.30
Travelocity.co.uk - £90
hilton.co.uk - £76

Hotel 17, New York City
Hostelbookers.co.uk - £82.14
Hotels.co.uk - £105.60
Expedia.co.uk - £105.60
Travelocity.co.uk - n/a
hotel17ny.com - $179.23 (£102.67)

Issacs Hotel, Dublin
Hostelbookers.co.uk - £61.68
Hotels.co.uk - £61.77
Expedia.co.uk - £61.77
Travelocity.co.uk - £82
isaacs.ie - €77.95 (£60.28)

Hotel 1898, Barcelona
Hostelbookers.co.uk - n/a
Hotels.co.uk - £149.74
Expedia.co.uk - £149.74
Travelocity.co.uk - £150
hotel1898.com - €173.34 (£133.76)

Petit Palace Tres Cruces - Madrid
Hostelbookers.co.uk - £79.38
Hotels.co.uk - £79.03
Expedia.co.uk - £79.03
Travelocity.co.uk - £80
madridpetitpalacetrescruces.com - €101.65 (£78.44)

Wellington Hotel, New York City
Hostelbookers.co.uk - n/a
Hotels.co.uk - £140.26
Expedia.co.uk - £140.26
Travelocity.co.uk - £134
wellingtonhotel.com - $285.80 (£162.65)

Bitterwallet's advice? Use the likes of Expedia or Travelocity to find suitable hotels (or try Hotel.co.uk's natty new Visualiser), but don't book anything until you've checked the hotel's own rates.

And if you're a seasoned traveller who knows exactly where to find the cheapest deals, get in touch or leave a comment with your hints and tips for saving money.

Photo by Telstar Logistics on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

TOPICS:   Travel

3 comments

  • chrizzler
    Why not try somewhere like www.travelsupermarket.co.uk too, this compares a number of the screen scraping websites and quite often gets a good deal.
  • 5 B.
    [...] the best pricing either. Always check hotel websites before making any bookings - there are often significant price differences and special offers that won’t appear [...]
  • Andrea H.
    You know you've made me think - is there any further online resource you would recommend looking at?

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