Updated: Sep 28, 2020
There is no shortage of options when it comes to finding and booking the cheapest hotel room you can find. From meta search engines that send you to company sites, to bookable online travel agencies, to corporate hotel sites, the options for the best hotel booking sites can be overwhelming.
On average a person visits 38 web pages searching for the cheapest hotel room before making a booking!
For most travel planning, the best overall strategy is to compare prices from multiple sources including the hotel’s own website, as it will sometimes offer deals not shared with third-party sites, or offer the same rates as third-party sites minus hidden booking fees.
Hotel sites may also offer package deals, offer coupons to attractions or discounts to restaurants. Whether you search with a hotel site like ours or the use of a search engine of your own, always check the hotel’s actual website as well, or call its reservations line, to make sure you really are getting the best hotel deal.
Sometimes simply talking to a hotel reservation specialist may provide insight and discounts you are not aware of.
The Best Hotel Search Sites
There are very popular search sites that can help you find the cheapest hotel room and a lot of hotel comparison sites simply link to these sites for booking.
Many hotel room finding sites are actually owned by the same corporations. Booking.com, for example owns Kayak, Priceline and Agoda.
Expedia owns Cheaptickets, Homeaway, Hotels, Hotwire, Orbitz, Travelocity and Trivago.
This is why there is very little competition when it comes to hotel room price and often prices are nearly all identical with a few savings offered on each branded site. Any web site offering 60 to 80% off hotel room prices are simply lying. The most savings you will get is about 20 to 40% off the posted rate with the average savings about 5-10%.
We have our very own Hotel Room Finder that searches the major hotel search sites to find the best deal for you. Instead of going to each of these individual sites, it showcases them in one window without popups or annoying search bars and prompts.
Simply use our Hotel Room Finder to save time.
Alternatively, you can you use the hotel search websites we have below to search individual sites and compare prices and options:
Booking.com provides a huge assortment of options when it comes to booking a hotel. From Bed & Breakfast options to long term apartment rentals to major hotel brands, booking.com will give you the most options. Booking.com offers something for everyone and its hotel search engine displays the total cost up front is helpful when comparing cheap hotel rates; being able to see that total hotel cost up front helps you quickly determine which hotels actually fit into your budget.
Kayak's hotel search offers a clean, easy-to-use interface with many available filters. It also shows other hotel booking sites’ rates so you can compare them all in one place. Remember to check down the list quickly, as the first hotel price result is often higher than better rates farther down the list. They try to push “recommended” hotels to try to get you to book ones that are more expensive or ones that provide a better commission. Use the search options to narrow down options and Kayak offers some good deals.
I have always found Priceline to be a little more than other major hotel booking sites but the big draw of Priceline has always been its unique “Name Your Own Price” and “Express Deal” options. The former allows you to submit a final hotel price you’re willing to pay, which a hotel can then accept (with a nonrefundable booking). The latter is a flash deal that hides the name of the hotel until after you book. While somewhat gimmicky, these hotel search options can offer significant savings.
Hotels.com can help you find the best hotel deals via tons of filters letting you narrow down your search. Its initial results tend to show a healthy balance of lower- and upper-end hotels, mostly in or around city centers. Hotels.com now includes non-hotel properties too, including condo hotels, guesthouses, and bed and breakfasts. The prices at Hotels.com are usually lower than the competition, and with their booking rewards, you will quickly get free hotel bookings.
Expedia offers an easy to use search function with lots of options. Expedia also owns Travelocity and Orbitz, and although most of the hotels and prices are exactly the same, there are some minor differences in what is made available. Expedia, unlike the sister-sites, will offer deals and limited-time offers, substantially beating their competition.
Agoda began as a room search web site focusing on Asia but it has now expanded into North America. Prices are on par with other search sites but users have complained of poor customer service when things go wrong with their booking.
Trivago searches a wide variety of hotel options and lesser known properties but always leads with expensive rooms and luxury options. They also tend to add more fees to their bookings. Look down the list to see if there are rooms lower on the list that provide a better deal as they bury these in hopes you book a more expensive room.
Google makes it extremely easy to find a room. Search “city” and “hotel” in Google and you get instant results. This feature is integrated into Google Maps, which makes it very different from any of the other hotel booking sites listed above.
On Google, hotel locations are marked by prices on a map, rather than by name or any other identifying characteristic. From there, Google’s hotel search tool is fairly price-forward, which is what meta search should be. Clicking on a price displays the hotel’s name, features, and booking options. Overall, it’s no surprise that Google offers a powerful, no-frills hotel search engine for travelers who don’t want all the hard-sell aspects of cheap hotel sites and more commercial hotel search engines. Google defaults its deals to Booking.com, Hotels.com and Agoda primarily. Use Google if location is a high priority, but remember they are just passing you on to their advertising partners.
Finding the Cheapest Room Site Comparison Test
We decided to choose the most popular four-star hotel in Chicago, the Hyatt Regency, to use as an example. It was widely available across all sites and availability was not a concern.
We chose an off day to travel – a Sunday night with a Monday check out to see if there were any problems in booking. We chose one adult, and tried to find the cheapest room and used an incognito web browser so that sites did not know we were already searching and continually searching for the same room.
The prices ranged significantly from a low of $138 on our very own Hotel Room Finder to a high of $337 on a single third party site with one site offering a $1 discount if we booked two round trip airfares with them at the same time!
Going directly to the hotel web site this time for a cheaper rate did not offer any discounts.
When we called they offered a $10 discount off the rate supplied by their web site but wanted us to sign up for their rewards program.
Many of the sites offered the exact same price and were forwarding to either booking.com or hotels.com as the actual booking agent.
Here then is the list of hotel searches we did and the price they offered from low to high:
The Cheapest Options:
Hyatt Website $150
The Consistent Options:
The Above Average Price Options:
Zen Hotels $175
The Ridiculously Priced Options:
*in order to get the price of $148 at CheapTickets, you had to purchase two round-trip airfare tickets at full price.
Keep in mind that this was one sample search and depending on the hotel, destination, dates and other factors, the prices would vary.
Our Top 10 List of the Best Hotel Search Sites
For consistency in savings, abundance of property type, availability, customer loyalty programs and customer service our Top 10 recommended booking sites are:
4. Hotel Website
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