Here are some good websites and steps for finding hotels and resorts. Before jumping in however I recommend that you read over the tips and guidelines for booking hotels and resorts.
Step 1: Search the best aggregators. Just like the aggregator sites that conduct searches for airfares on several websites at the same time these various aggregator sites recommended for searching for hotels and resorts can overlap each other to varying degrees as far as which pools of sites are covered. However because there isn’t one particular site that covers all the various hotel-related websites and because of constantly changing inventories and business relationships between the total pool of sites involved there is no one particular aggregator site that will give you the best selections and offers every single time. Hence, it is really best to search from at least a couple of them to get a good idea of what is available. And remember that there are no added fees if you book through these sites, so it makes sense to use them to your fullest advantage.
HotelsCombined.com is a extremely useful aggregator site solely dedicated to searching an incredible number of websites around the world for the best hotel rates. It claims to be the world’s largest hotel price comparison search engine. It includes searches from such well-known sites as Booking.com, Expedia.com, Hilton.com, Hotels.com, Priceline.com, Travelocity.com, Venere.com, and many others. You can search by specific hotel and resort names if you’d like.
KAYAK.com is another great aggregator site for searching for resort and hotel rooms. After you have done your initial search for a particular city, you can further customize your search by changing the different pieces of data on the left hand side of the screen. Like HotelsCombined it searches several sites but not the exact same ones, so sometimes KAYAK will have better prices and vice versa.
Wego.com is a Singapore-based aggregator that focuses more on Asia, Australia and New Zealand as far as hotels and resorts are concerned. (Great for searching for airfares all over the world too.)
Step 2: As useful and powerful as the aggregators listed above are there are still other websites you may want to also consider using when looking for resort and hotel rooms. The sites listed below are more specialized than the aggregators, so you can read the short descriptions of each site to help give you a better idea as to which ones might be more useful for your particular needs.
Hotwire.com is an opaque website where you don’t know the name or exact location of the property, but you do know how many stars it is rated, eg. 3-star or 4-star, and in what region of the city it is located. Likewise you cannot cancel or change your reservation after you have paid for the room. However you are given a set price as opposed to bidding on the room, and bargains can definitely be found. Go to BidonTravel.com for tips and strategies on how to best use Hotwire.
Priceline.com is another opaque site that allows you to bid on rooms when you click on ‘Name Your Own Price’, but you do not know the name or the exact location of the property when you are bidding. Likewise you cannot cancel or change your reservation after you have paid for the room. If these terms are OK with you and you want to give Priceline a try then you might visit BidonTravel.com for tips and strategies.
ResortCompete.com is a relatively new site that comes from the same company that has done so well with CruiseCompete.com. You to get competing recommendations and quotes from independent travel agencies, tour operators and resort operators to help you get the best deals on all-inclusive resort vacations. Since these sellers aren’t required to publish these individualized offers you can sometimes get a much better price.
AsiaRooms.com is an online hotel reservation service provider that does not currently have an agreement with any of the big aggregators to be searched by them. While having the ability to book rooms all over the world they specialize in Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and they claim to be the number one hotel booking website in Asia. Many people swear by them when it comes to helping you finding a great rate.
Yapta.com is most famous for tracking airline ticket prices, but it recently started doing the same for national and international hotel and resort properties. It won’t help you get a refund on your room if the price were to drop after your booking, but it can help you before you make your purchase by alerting you when there is a price drop in the room that you are interested in.
Wotif.com is great for last minute deals on hotels and resorts located in over 45 different countries. The search results make it very easy to see which dates are available for which prices.
SaveOnResorts.com offers heavily discounted rates on a decent selection of resorts around the world. The prices quoted are per couple, and sometimes kids are free. The catch is that you must attend a 90+ minute sales presentation for timeshares. This isn’t for everyone, but it is an option.
Step 3: If you are not using one of the opaque sites where you don’t know the name and location of the property then it never hurts to see if you can find some reviews on the hotel or resort before you commit your money.
Hotels.com has an enormous number of reviews to read, and in order to post a review you must have actually booked the room through the website which helps with the credibility issue. The only potential downside is that the website is still in the business of trying to book as many hotel rooms as possible, so there are people who believe some of the reviews get censored. Despite this caveat though it can still be extremely helpful.
TripAdvisor.com also has reviews on lots of hotels and resorts. The downside here however is that, because you are not required to have booked a room with them in order to write a review, you can’t always be sure you are reading something honest and genuine Think unscrupulous hotel owners. However, if there are enough reviews you can usually at least get a general sense of the property.
Oyster.com is a newly launched site that hires its own experienced reporters to write reviews. To back up their claims of being objective they declare that they are not in the business of selling rooms and they claim they do not accept any perks or payments from the hotels they review. They even use their own hotel photos as opposed to photos supplied by the properties. The only drawback is that the number of hotels covered is comparatively small, at least for now.
Step 4: Always remember that if you are not booking on one of the opaque websites where you don’t know the name of the property before you book then don’t forget to try calling or at least emailing the hotel or resort directly to see if you can possibly get an even better rate than what you have found online (see #3 in tips and guidelines). Likewise you might search for promotional codes on google to see if it is possible to receive any additional discounts when booking.