While I enjoy camping, I have to be honest and say that my favorite method of travel involves soft beds, pools, and room service. I’m definitely more of a hotel person than a tent person. I get easily intimidated, though, by the many different reservation and “cheap rate” websites out there – I find them overwhelming to navigate, and I don’t want to spend the time double checking every site. So, when we have a vacation planned, I’d rather either have someone else plan it or stay in a campground so I know I’m not getting ripped off.
I do get annoyed, though, when I hear about friends saying what wonderful hotels they stayed at for a fraction of the normal cost. Hmmph – I want to have wonderful hotel services without paying through the nose! So I was glad to hear about Hotel Reservations.com – they are a worldwide hotel reservation site that offers a rebate if you find a better deal elsewhere! So not only can you check rates for your trip to see the in-laws, you can also check rates for your dream trip to Crete.
I wanted to check rates for a busy time (annoyed that their Summer Gas Rebate program had ended), so I checked the prices for a trip to Austin around Thanksgiving as an example. Wow. I’m so impressed at their rates! A fabulous 4 star hotel in downtown Austin has an exclusive rate with them – an average of $138.50/night, but they show you the per-night charges in addition to the average charges so you can see which nights you could eliminate if you wanted to make it a better deal. They also show their rates for the famous Driskill hotel, which is just a smidge higher than the Radisson.
The part I especially liked about Hotel Reservations.com is that just below that exclusive rate is a Days Inn for less than half the nightly rate – the site isn’t only showing you the top dollar hotels to encourage you to spend more money. Seeing everything from an Econolodge to a top dollar hotel, all listed as options makes me feel as if I have choices, rather than feeling trapped into a certain type of hotel.
They also give you several ways to sort the results – by best value (their rate vs published rate), quality (user ratings), price, or alphabetical. You can also narrow your search by showing only the hotels closest to a landmark – such as closest to the Austin Capitol. Of course, these have to be recognized landmarks, they don’t show my friends’ houses! But you can choose to map all hotels so you can find a hotel close to where you are going, if you are planning to visit people rather than wanting to be close to tourist destinations.
As a final bonus, there’s a search option on the lefthand sidebar that allows you to narrow your search by the amenities offered by the hotel – we prefer to stay somewhere with a pool, so I can search only for hotels with a pool. Others might want a fitness center, pets allowed, or a kitchenette, and there are other options to narrow your search as well.
Overall, I think that Hotel Reservations.com has enough options to be a great search engine for hotel reservation prices and amenities. It is laid out in a way that is easy to navigate, and it shows enough variety in the results of the search that the user is not feeling stuck with only $100+/night rooms. If you are planning a trip to Europe, you can check out hotels, and then if your plans change there is a toll-free European number so you can book a reservation in a new city without giving up the internet rates. It’s worth a look to check them out!
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