WHEN & HOW I USE THEM:
When I first land in a new location, I don’t want to be trudging the streets looking for an hotel with all of my luggage in tow.
I usually travel alone, so I can’t leave all of the luggage with a partner so that I can walk around freely looking at what is available for the best price.
If I am arriving in a new location in the morning, I usually use an Hotel Booking Search Site to book a cheap hotel for my first night. This allows me to leave my luggage in a safe location whilst I look for better and cheaper longer term options that afternoon / evening.
If I am arriving in a new location late afternoon or in the evening, I usually use an Hotel Booking Search Site to book a cheap hotel for the first 2 nights. This allows me to just relax that first evening and gives me the whole of the next day to look around.
Whether it be 1 night or 2, both options allow me to leave my luggage with the hotel after check out – should I need longer to finish my search.
I find this so much better than arriving without a booking and being rushed into making bad decisions.
I tend to go to BOOKING.COM first; I book through them the most. I prefer BOOKING.COM because the price that you see ‘up-front’ is the price that you pay… there are no ‘hidden’ charges tagged on at the end of the booking process.
Lessons Learnt: On BOOKING.COM, you pay the hotel in local currency directly. So, it is best to search for and display prices in local currency – which will be exactly what you pay to the hotel.
AGODA.COM is an excellent backup to BOOKING.COM. Sometimes they list additional accommodation and sometimes they have a ‘special’ on that beats the BOOKING.COM price.
If you sign up with Agoda you can see their ‘Secret Deals’. This is definitely worth doing.
I’ll let you in on a ‘little secret’… once you’ve ‘signed up’, access Agoda from your Smartphone (not your laptop). If you access Agoda via Smartphone, you also see their ‘Secret Mobile Only’ deals… some of which are excellent.
Lessons Learnt: On AGODA.COM, you pay AGODA in advance by credit card (and AGODA settle with the hotel). So, it is best to search for and display prices in local currency and (when asked during the payment process) choose to pay in local currency. This way, the hotel price must be converted back to your home country currency at the standard Wholesale Inter-Bank Rate. If you book in any other currency (say US$s) and / or choose to pay AGODA in your home country currency (e.g. NZ$s) during the booking process, you will lose this protection and may end up paying two ‘bespoke’ currency conversion fees (one from US$s to the local currency and another from the local currency to NZ$s).
ALSO WORTH A LOOK:
I have found BOOKING.COM to be good everywhere.
I have found AGODA.COM to be good in South East Asia.
I am finding EXPEDIA better than AGODA in countries like Mexico.
I am finding TRIPADVISOR to be good for Vacation Rentals.
Vacation rentals can end up cheaper than Hotels in many towns … BUT, you need to be careful … you need to find them in the right locations so that you aren’t stuck too far away from the ‘action’.