How to Book Hotels

Updated: October 26, 2016

Booking Hotels Online – The Basics

  • What is the best site for booking hotels? has the best rates and is very reliable.
  • How far in advance should I book hotels? As soon as possible. Rates almost always go up (not down) and I rarely save money by waiting.
  • What days have the best hotel rates? Generally big cities (that are popular with business travelers) will have cheaper rates on the weekend. Resorts and holiday destinations (that are popular with tourists) will have better prices on weekdays.
  • My single best hotel tip: If any problems arise about your booking (the room type, the cost, is breakfast included), threaten to leave a critical review on TripAdvisor or Don’t be mean, rude, or dishonest – but make it clear that you will be writing about your stay on a travel forum or online review site. This is huge for hotels and a bad review can really affect future business.

On This Page

The Best Websites for Booking Hotels

1. – The most reliable website and almost always has the best rates.

2. – Good for last minute hotels.

3. – Specializes in Asia.

4. TripAdvisor – Good for reviews but not great for finding the best rates.

5. – My least favorite hotel booking site.

Why and How to Use to Book Hotels

  • has a super handy calendar view for all the hotels you’ve booked. Now you don’t have to search through your emails to find out where you’re staying on your last night in Paris – it’s all right there in your “Bookings” tab. (This sounds like a minor deal, but it really makes a big difference.)
    Best website for booking hotels and planning a trip.
  • All reviews on are from verified guests (people that actually booked a room through the website at that hotel). Every hotel is graded on friendliness, comfort, location, facilities, staff, value for money, and wifi-quality. I have found a score of 8.8 and above means the hotel will be excellent (pretty much 5 star or exceptional value for money). 8.0 and above is basically a 4 star. 7.0 and above is a good quality 3 star hotel. I never book anything below a score of 7.
    User reviews for booking hotels online.
  • makes booking a specific room easy.
    How to find the best rooms at luxury hotels while booking online.
  • has nice large pictures so you can see what the hotel is like. Also has lots of photos of individual suites and room types (but you need to enter potential dates to see these room pictures).
    How to use to find the best hotel rates and best rooms.

How to Save Money on Hotels

  • Start your hotel search as early as you can. The longer period of time you have to search, the better deal you’ll likely find. Hotel rates almost never go down for holiday destinations and resorts.
  • Booking early isn’t only about great deals. Early bookers get the best rooms.
  • If your dates can be flexible then compare different date ranges for the best rates. Hotels can fill up for a big convention or big event. Busy and expensive one weekend. Empty and cheap the next.
  • Flip-flop weekends and weekdays. Hotels target different types of travelers which will have very different weekday and weekend routines. Hotels that have a large business clientele can be very quiet (with large discounts) on weekends. Hotels that see more leisure tourists will be packed on weekends but cheaper on weekdays.
  • Think upgrade: book the least expensive room through a booking website then contact the hotel directly to inform them of special requirements or inquire about any available upgrades – if the hotel is quiet they’ll often be free or for a nominal charge.

When is the Best Time to Book Hotels?

Here’s a huge generalization that works pretty well for most situations: For hotels that have a business clientele last minute booking can offer good deals. For hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals that have tourists as their primary guests then booking 3 months to 6 months prior to your stay is likely the best plan.

Why? Business travelers are much more likely to arrange and make last-minute (or last week) travel plans. A month before a given date, a hotel in the financial district of London might not have many bookings but will not start discounting those rooms yet. It will still expect to make a lot of bookings in the week or two before that time frame.

Often it’s not just about the price. Early booking will get you the best rooms at a similar price to the less coveted rooms. E.g. A huge family room that is only a little more than a cramped double room.

A hotel in Cancun, Phuket, or Bali that has a lot of openings in a month will start to worry. Most of its guests should have already booked those rooms so the hotel will start to aggressively discount those rooms.

What Day of the Week Has the Best Hotel Deals?

It depends what type of hotel you’re booking.

Business hotels will offer bigger discounts on the weekends (when business clients are at home). Budget hotels will have empty rooms (and discounts) through the week because the people that stay there (weekend shoppers, concert goers, university students) come on there weekends and return home Sunday night.

Why Do Hotels Use Booking Sites Like

Here’s where it gets tricky for hotels. Yes, they want to fill some of those rooms. Even if a guest is only paying half the rack-rate it’s still a lot more than zero. At the same time hotels do not want to establish the practice of rewarding guests that wait the longest to book. Then everyone will book last minute expecting (and probably getting) discounted rates.

Hotels offer those rooms to hotel consolidators so that the price discounts don’t reflect directly on the hotel itself. A hotel guest that learns from another guest that they got a 50% discount by booking through would probably shrug their shoulders and try to remember the name of the website. But if that same guest learned that their friend simply booked through the hotel’s website and got a vastly cheaper rate, they’re likely to be upset and displeased with the inconsistent way the hotel charges customers.

As well, when guests book through 3rd party websites they often book other travel options (travel insurance, airfares, rental cars). These serve to obscure the true cost of the hotel room so a direct comparison to the rate another guest paid can’t easily be made.

What’s Included and Are There Extra Fees?

When you’re comparing different rates from different websites be sure to check what’s included in the quoted price. Are there extra fees and taxes?

Extra costs could include an of the following:

  • City, State, and Country taxes
  • City, State, and Country surcharges and other fees
  • Booking service fees (often disguised as hotel charges)
  • Hotel energy surcharge
  • Hotel resort fee
  • Spa or swimming pool fee
  • Phone or internet availability fee
  • Short stay surcharge or room cleaning fee
  • Parking
  • Credit card surcharge

Clearly it’s not easy to compare 2 rates with all these extras to consider. Taxes and booking fees are the biggest ones so if you’re feeling overwhelmed focus on those and you should be fine.

If you’re staying at a big resort it might be wise to check the hotel’s official website to look for extra fees that may be applied (e.g. a charge for using the spa).

Most websites have search options for the following specifics:

  • Swimming Pool (Indoor and Outdoor)
  • Spa
  • Fitness Center
  • Kitchenettes
  • Wi-fi
  • Parking
  • Location (and vicinity of the airport).
  • Airport Shuttle
  • Non-Smoking Rooms
  • Rooms or Facilities for Disabled Guests

Be sure to use these if you’re looking for a hotel with special features or characteristics as in my experience they’re accurate.

A final tip, is to check whether breakfast is included. When you arrive at the hotel you can even ask (with a tone of voice that expects that it is included). It’s often of little cost to the hotel to serve another buffet breakfast but this can be a huge savings for you especially over the course of a week or extended stay.

15 Tips for Booking Hotels Online

This is the cheat sheet for booking hotels online.

  • Imporant! – Like airfares, hotel prices go down and go up. Unlike airfares, you can (usually) cancel hotel bookings and book a different hotel – or book the same hotel through a different website. So if you see a decent deal book it. And then keep looking for a better deal.
  • Important! – Verify directly with the hotel after booking through an online booking website (e.g. This is easy to do and well worth it. Occasionally, you’ll get an even better room than if you hadn’t contacted them. For example, if you send an email saying something like this, “I just booked a room with your hotel on I wanted to confirm my booking and make sure you didn’t need any more information. We’re a family of 5 so really need this to go smoothly. Thanks.” At the very least it lets the staff know you’ll need a bigger room. Maybe it won’t change anything but occasionally some of the time it will.
  • Important! – If you belong to a hotel loyalty program and want to get hotel points by booking directly through the hotel you can still benefit by using 3rd party hotel websites. Simply look for deals for your chosen hotel then phone the hotel and state exactly the deal you found online. They’ll often offer you the same price on the same room.  (Though not always, as sometimes they have sold these hotel rooms as a block and are not looking to discount the remaining rooms they still have booking access to.)
  • When booking a hotel for a family of 4, family of 5, or family of 6 then booking two hotel rooms will often be cheaper than booking one large family room. The catch is that when you book two hotel rooms hotels usually won’t guarantee that they are beside each other – so if you do find a large family suite at a good rate that’s often the best choice.
  • How to book luxury hotels? – Be sure to check multiple websites (including the hotel’s website) to find the best prices. Unlike budget and moderate hotels there can often be huge rate diffences between different sites.
  • Print your confirmation email (or have easy access to it on your phone) to show at reception. 9 times out of 10 you won’t need it but on occasion the hotel might not have received the reservation info and the confirmation will help.
  • If you’ve already decided on the datess of your hotel stay then you’re starting from a disadvantage. Sometimes you have to travel on specific dates but if you can swing it, try to book hotels before you’ve settled on your dates.
  • Check multiple sites before you book: the hotel’s website and at least 2 hotel booking sites.
  • If you’re looking for a specific hotel and see that it’s full on the nights you need then be sure to check a second or third website as this can simply mean that the first websites’ allocation of rooms has sold out, not that the entire hotel is booked full.
  • If possible contact hotels directly to ask for deals or enquire about special offers. This is a pain and it’s become less and less effective as the online deals have become so competitive but it’s still worth a try. It can be especially effective if you’re staying for a week or more. Hotel booking sites won’t be able to offer special deals based on length of stay.
  • The biggest risk with reserving through a hotel booking site isn’t that you’ll be scammed out of your money by an illegitimate business (all of the websites that I list in here are reputable) but that they will overbook your hotel and you’ll get an email a few weeks before your stay saying that your room is not available. This is very rare, but it does happen. Contacting hotels directly after you book (I’m mentioning this twice since it’s so important) makes this scenario much less likely.
  • If you book a non-refundable hotel (read the fine-print) you will never be able to cancel so be certain before you reserve it.
  • The more particulars matter to you (e.g. special room requests, king or queen sized bed, bathtub, space for cot) the less well booking sites will suit you. That said, many sites are very good at passing along your specific requests when you book, so be sure to include any necessary needs or preferences when you place the booking (there’s usually a form when you can add extra information).
  • For budget hotels it’s often better to book directly with the hotel. Usually they won’t be listed in the hotel booking sites anyways.
  • Airbnb,, and are travel websites that accept PayPal – if that’s important for you.
  • If booking an apartment or family run B&B through a site (e.g. Venere) don’t assume that the same apartment will be payable using a credit card. Confusing I know. The initial credit card is used to reserve the room with Venere, but when you arrive (and need to pay) the owner might only accept cash.
  • Email the hotel directly a day before arrival (regardless of how you book). It’s a pain but it’s worth the effort. If you show you care about your booking, your room, and your stay – then your hotel will too.
  • Final Tip: This isn’t concerned with hotels but it can be a big life-saver. Take a photo of your passports with your phone before you start your trip. If you ever lose your passport (or even just can’t find it during check in) this can be a huge help in getting it replaced.

The Best Hotel Websites for Top Destinations

Here are direct links for some of the most popular destinations in 2017:

Hotels in Europe

Hotels in Asia & South Pacific

Hotels in the USA & Canada

Hotels in Mexico & the Caribbean

115 questions and comments

  1. Booking Hotels in United States

    I am planning on going to America this December. When should I book hotels?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      You should be looking now and book when you find what you like. No huge hurry but I wouldn’t wait too long. Travel is generally quiet in the first half of December (and you should get some very good deals). But for the major cities, the 2nd half of December is a busy time and could be quite expensive.

  2. Booking New York City Hotels in Advance

    Good Morning,

    I will be going to NYC, with my daughter, July 2017.

    I have booked a hotel which doesn’t have a cancellation fee but would like to find a cheaper/better hotel. However, when I put in our dates a lot of the hotels/ booking sites come back ‘dates unavailable’. Am I looking too far ahead?


    Su Denne

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Yes, that might be a little too far in advance for some hotels (resorts and beach hotels tend to put their stock up sooner than a city hotel). Keep checking. I’m guessing October and November will see most availability to be online.

  3. Amalfi, Rome, Santorini Trip Planning

    Dave-Your website is fabulous and has hooked us on visiting Santorini. We are flying from Phoenix, Arizona to Rome on 6/23/17 for a week cruise on the Amalfi Coast
    and then would like to fly from Rome to Santorini on Saturday 7/1/17 for about 5 days or so and we have a couple of questions:
    1. Do you have any suggestions for airlines from Rome to Santorini as we will have luggage?
    2. We think we would also like to visit Folegandros, so how many days would you suggest we need to visit both islands?
    3. Is is possible to fly from Rome on Saturday 7/1 and still be able to catch a sea jet to Folegandros the same afternoon and spend 2 nights there and then grab
    another sea jet back to Santorini for 3 nights and head back to Rome from there?
    4. We will be traveling on our own and like to hike, snorkel and eat and drink and not necessarily in that order. What area of Santorini is the best to stay if we
    want to have access to the whole island during the day but be away from the party crowd at night?
    5. We don’t want to haul snorkel gear all that way so do you have suggestions of Dive Shops on both islands that we could rent snorkel gear?

    Madeleine O’Malley

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Vueling has a direct Rome to Santorini flight on July 1, 2017. It lands in Santorini at 12:25pm and there is usually a 6:30pm SeaJet from Santorini to Folegandros (no guarantees until the schedule comes out but I’d say it’s very likely that there is an evening ferry). So, lots of time to go into Fira, grab some lunch then get down to the port. If you have 5 nights then 2 on Folegandros and 3 on Santorini is what I recommend. Vueling also has flights from Santorini to Rome on July 6 and 7, so that should work. There are not many good snorkeling spots in Santorini or Folegandros (and almost no rental shops) so bring your own gear if you want and have low expectations.

  4. Booking Hotels for Family of 3


    I am travelling to Spain with my Wife and 2.5 years old daughter. While booking hotels – the overall price shoots up by 30-40% when I choose 2 adults + 1 child (despite not asking for extra bed) vs when I choose 2 adults. I am trying on Booking, Agoda, etc.
    Now we don’t need a bigger size room or extra bed, what do you suggest?
    Should I just book 2 adults or is there any other way?


    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Yeah, I would try with 2 adults. Be aware they might still charge you something extra when you arrive as a family of 3 but it shouldn’t be 30 or 40%.

  5. Hotels in Spain for Family of 4

    Hi David
    we are a family of 4 adults that are planning to go to southern Spain in the middle of October for 10 days, we are planning to go through the cities Malaga, Granada, Seville, and Cordoba. we wanted to know will it be cheaper to find budget hotels with nearby parking when we are there as it is low season or will it be better to book in advance online and if so how far in advance. Many thanks for your website it is very helpful.


    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      If you had an unlimited supply of time and patience then yes, you’d probably get a cheaper hotel by driving around and looking for the best deal. But assuming that’s not how you want to spend your days then booking online in advance will get the cheapest prices for most people.

  6. Finding Small Boutique Hotels

    I will have to remember to book my hotels two to six months before I will be staying there, it is very helpful to have an actual number that I can keep in mind. Verifying seems like an important step too, you want to make your plans absolutely clear and certain. Do you have any tips specifically for staying in smaller boutique hotels? Thank you for all of your helpful information!
    Brooke McAvoy

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      There is no one easy way to find boutique hotels. does have a star system, so you can sort by user ratings to find the best hotels (these are verified reviews unlike Tripadvisor so they do seem to better correspond to truly good hotels) – but these are not necessarily boutique hotels, just very good hotels.

  7. Best Day to Book Hotel Rooms

    Is there a particular day of the week that you can find the cheapest rates for booking a hotel? We are going to Washington DC next month.

    Nancy Koster

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      There is an industry rumor that Mondays are the best days to book hotels as that’s when new hotel rooms are typically released (in bunches). I don’t think you’ll see much movement even with the best of luck (you won’t get the price drops that can occur with plane tickets) but it’s worth taking an extra look Monday morning.

  8. vs Airbnb

    Hi David,

    I am looking to book a room or hotel for Santorini in the summer of 2017. Would you recommend Airbnb or How would you compare Airbnb vs Does or Airbnb have the best rates?

    Kind regards,

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy and AirBnb are two very different websites, with different products. typically has hotel rooms (and sometimes villas) run by professional hotel staff. AirBnb offers rooms and houses by the owners of these properties – they typically are not professionals (though that can be the case in larger cities like Paris or NYC) and for better or worse they have a more relaxed and homey environment. This suits some people but the lack of a dedicated staff can be a hassle for others. I personally enjoy staying in hotels but I have friends who love to stay in Airbnbs and wouldn’t want anything else.

      For Santorini, there is an added wrinkle in that almost all of the best views are provided by hotels. Very few Airbnb rentals have a great caldera view and most are back from the cliff with no view or views to the east (not the caldera).

  9. vs Agoda

    May I respectfully ask why you prefer to Agoda? I travel to Thailand 5 times each year and have found Agoda more reliable, but not without faults! However, upon complaining they reply and offer a discount on next trip. have a good service but let me down a few times too. Overbooking was a serious problem on one trip! I was brought to another hotel on arrival! I also think that sometimes “chance their arm” a bit on pricing! It is not an exact science and I laud you for sticking your neck out!

    Terry Cahill

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Hi Terry, yes I like Agoda too but find easier to use and typically have more selection in more cities. When travelers have a problem with any booking site (e.g., Agoda, it’s usually the fault of the hotel. For example, overbooking is a choice the hotel makes in trying to maximize guests and is usually not the fault of the booking company. If you booked through the hotels’ website at the same hotel you’d run the same risk of being overbooked. So, you need to pick good trustworthy hotels regardless of how you book.

  10. vs Expedia for Family of 4


    Thank you for the post. Our family is 2 adults (my wife and I) and 2 children under 17.

    What is a better website for hotels, or Expedia? We are going to Koh Samui and Phuket and would like to find a really special place for our 1 week in each destination (also 2 nights in Bangkok). What’s the best website for finding a luxury hotel on the beach?

    Thank you,

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      I don’t like Expedia and rarely use them. They tend to have pre-arranged deals with a few huge hotel chains and promote them endlessly regardless of what you search for. is much better at finding specific hotels (especially luxury hotels), though there are so many available it can be hard to narrow down the search. Best to do some research first and then go to to find the rates on your short list of hotels. Hope that helps.

  11. Book Hotel and Flight Together or Separately

    I am currently planning a family trip to Europe for our family of 4 in July and August of 2017. Would you suggest booking air and hotel together or separate? Also, would you recommend booking car in advance for London and Paris or when we get there? Should we plan on driving from London to Paris or rent different cars in each city?


    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      You’ll likely get the best rates by booking your flight (use and hotel ( or Hotelscombined) separately. And you’ll definitely get a better choice of hotel by reserving independent of your flight. Not only would I not book a car in advance, I wouldn’t book a car at all. London and Paris both have fantastic public transportation and having a car is far more of a hassle than a benefit – even for day trips outside the city. And for getting from London to Paris it’s far easier (and more enjoyable) to take the Eurostar than to drive.

  12. Booking Hotel for 1 or 2 People on

    On I often notice an option to select the room type along with the number of adults while selecting a package.

    The price is cheaper for an option of 1 adult although the room can house two people (I am assuming it can house 2 based on the name of the room type, ex: deluxe double room).

    Is it okay to book it as 1 adult (to avail the cheaper price) and have my friend over to stay as well (considering the room can house 2 people)?

    Let me know what you think – thanks in advance David.


    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      You can certainly book the room for 1 but if the hotel knows about your friend you’ll have to pay for them. And if the room included free breakfast that would only apply to the number of people that the room is booked for.

  13. Booking Hilton on

    Yep! WORKS, but once at a Hilton they could not find my reservation and did not know anything “sorry, not in our database.” However, like you advised I produced the reservation printout (had saved the email too) and the credit card I used. Low and behold, Oh sir we have found it! So good advice!

  14. Trouble with

    David, I’m writing because I know you recommend, and (after many positive experiences booking with them) I recently had an *atrocious* experience that made me think the way we think about these things is wrong.

    My family and I were going away for five nights in the summer; I booked a hotel through In the details section, I specified that it was for THREE adults. (In past bookings, there has been a way to specify both number of adults and number of children; for this listing, there was no option of specifying number of children–but neither was there anything saying children were not welcome.) So I specified three adults, and in the comments section, I noted that the reservation was for three adults and one child–and that if there was a problem with that, someone should let me know. This was a luxury boutique property, and was extremely expensive.

    Imagine our surprise when we got there and, upon check-in, the proprietor immediately apologized to us and explained that they hadn’t noticed the comment until that evening–and that the rooms were all for *couples*, despite the fact that I had booked for THREE adults and one child. There were no larger rooms available, and since the hotel was at capacity, there was no option to give us a second room. Instead, two of our party slept on the floor for five nights. Other than that, the property was lovely, the breakfasts fantastic, the proprietors very accommodating. We have nothing but good things to say about this establishment.

    When we returned home (a scant few days after our stay) I immediately wrote and explained the situation. Since this was entirely their fault, at the very least I expected some sort of “$50 off towards your next stay” if not a significant refund–after all, we’d booked, through their site, for three (or four) people, and got a room for two! flatly refused to do anything. They insisted that it wasn’t their fault. (Well then, why use a consolidator at all?) They insisted that the ability to book for any number of guests was fine (despite the fact that, upon inspection of the hotel’s own website, it very clearly indicates that the only type of rooms they have are rooms for couples–there are no family rooms at this establishment.)

    What irks me is not that we had a less-than-positive experience because of — that could happen anywhere, and I certainly don’t expect to have personal knowledge of every property they list.

    What irks me is that, having been apprised of the problem, and since it was clearly their fault, they still refused to make it right. I sent literally dozens of emails of complaint, and kept receiving the tepid, “There’s nothing we can do about it.”

    I have had good experiences with — and wouldn’t use ever, for any reason. If they don’t stand by their mistakes, then what good are they? And since the prices are now ALL THE SAME at,, and, there’s no reason for me to use a company whose customer service is so cavalier.

    Curious to hear your thoughts on this.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      That’s unfortunate. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I wonder if you entered 3 adults, 1 child in the original search – or did you go directly to the property and not select the guests. In my experience, if you have children in the search options then couples-only hotels will not come up in the results. And if they do, then the hotel has entered certain information incorrectly. From what you said, (assuming you had the child entered properly when you searched) I’m more inclined to say this is the hotel’s fault. It’s the hotel that sets the parameters for every room they offer on – date, price, number of guests, kids or no kids. If that’s entered incorrectly then there’s nothing can do.

      Thanks for sharing.

  15. Hotels in Bangkok

    I am going to Bangkok in a few days and have not booked any hotels, I am planning on showing up and seeing the room before I pay for one, is this a good idea? Or should I book online to make sure I get a room? I heard October is low season and should be able to still get a hotel room.


    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Yes, you certainly will be able to find something so no worries about sleeping in a cafe. If you’re looking for a budget hotel in and around Khao San I think this is a great way to find a hotel. But if you’re looking for moderate or luxury hotel then you’ll get a better deal booking online. Also, in and around Siam Square and Sukhumvit it’s not easy to see several hotels in a short period of time (unlike around Khao San where you can easily check out 10 hotels in 90 minutes) so if time is important to you then this might not be the best way to use your time.

  16. Best Hotel Booking Site for Philippines

    Hi, what is the best hotel booking sites to travel to the Philippines?


  17. Finding Hotel Deals by Booking Early

    Booking early is a good tip because I have been able to find some fantastic deals on hotels and travel plans. Thanks for the tip on booking a hotel and then shopping around to see if the pricing fluctuates, so that you could cancel if a better deal comes up. I will have to do that next time I travel!

    Wilfredo Hernandez

  18. Hotels for Family of 4 in Thailand

    Hi David,
    I am traveling to Thailand this summer with my husband and 2 children aged 9 and 11. Do you know if staying 4 in one regular room will be possible in most places, as it usually is in North America, or if we’ll have to book suites or two rooms? We’ll be staying 6 weeks in Thailand and going from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and then to the south of Thailand for the beaches.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Most of the time a room that has 2 beds will be able to accommodate a family of 4. If you use and search for rooms for 2 adults and 2 children the rooms that are returned should all be fine. You can also search specifically for Family Rooms (using the filters on the left) and in this case you’ll nearly always get good-sized rooms that are both large and comfortable for a family.

  19. Hotels in Saigon

    Hi David,

    Great site. I will be visiting Saigon for the first time. Any hotel recommendations? I usually book through Agoda but they often post great deals but Max of only one person, even for twin bed rooms. What’s the deal with that?


    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      To find the cheapest rooms in Saigon (that are still nice) go to Pham Ngu Lao, or the Backpacker District as it’s commonly called. Lots of cheap hotels and no need to book in advance. Just walk from one hotel to the next and ask for the best rate. Be sure to look at the room before renting. The hotels are close to lots of good restaurants and bars. It’s a fun neighborhood.

  20. Hotel Booking for Paris

    Hi David, I am planning to spend 5 days in paris in April and thinking of booking same hotel with 5 bookings. One for each day, as the website is giving me fixed discount on every booking. Do you think hotel will have any objection to it?

    Saurabh Gaeg

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      If it’s through then they can’t really have a problem with it as you have Booking to back you up. If it’s through their own website then they can pretty much do whatever they want.

  21. Four Seasons vs Shanrgi-La in Sydney, Australia

    Do you have information on The Four Season and The Shangri-La hotels in Sydney?
    Kerry Smithwick

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Both have great views and good locations. Shangri-la has larger rooms and an indoor pool. The Four Seasons has a large outdoor pool and more pampered service.

  22. AirBnb vs Hotel

    This is an amazing array of info and I travel with my twin boys a little – we seriously love getting an entire home when we go to a city. It is so much more relaxing to the kids to have complete freedom and a really large space. We have had multiple homes in Sydney Brisbane Singapore and Bali so far and each was mind blowingly perfect for kids.

    Please consider for your next travel AIRbnb – just make sure you click entire place in your search and when you inquire ensure its as you expect. We enjoy having a washing machine and full bathroom and lounge and kitchen facilities. The homes usually have free wifi and great rooms.

    Traveling in Australia in hotels there are hardly any family rooms and when you get them they are four beds squished in a room. For the same cost you get a home with all the space you want.
    Transport is easy in Australia from suburbs or intercity.

    I cant go back to hotel travel now that I’ve been spoilt.

  23. Cheap Hotels in Las Vegas

    Hi David, I would like to stay in Las Vegas for 3-4 Weeks, there a good Hotel, but I also have to pay a daily resort fee between 9-30 dollars.
    Do you have a good idea to stay in good hotels on strip or downtown and where to get the cheapest ones?
    Thank you, best regards from Switzerland

  24. What Hotel Guide is the Best

    How do you know which hotel guides / ranking services to trust? Do they each publish their methodology somewhere? I can’t find any. How do they know what they know about each hotel? I find it easier to trust an individual person’s advice…ie a site like this one, or Rick Steves, etc. But one person can’t possibly test all the available hotels in a region. How do I know which guides will best guide me?


    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Frommer’s is good though they haven’t updated many of their guides for some years. The reviews on are helpful because they’re verified reviews – meaning you have to have stayed at the hotel in order to leave a review. If you do use Tripadvisor look for reviews from guests that have multiple reviews and posts (the more the better) – the fake reviews are more likely to be from reviewers that have only left a handful of posts.

  25. Booking Hotel for Family of 5

    Hi David! Just came across your blog as I have been researching a 2015 Swiss Christmas and am in need of help booking online. We are a family of 5 adults, me, hubby and 3 girls who will be 22 19 & 17. I know its early but I want to have our itinerary set and book as early as possible. Can you help me with what sites are best for booking multiple rooms and when is the earliest Christmas/New Year bookings open for Swiss and Paris hotels. We are looking to stay in Bern, Jungfrau region and Basel before heading to Paris for the New Year. Then we are on to Disney World before heading home to Sydney via a few days in Honolulu. Having been to the US a number of times we were always able to book family rooms and in the case if Disney World a wonderful cabin, but we haven’t been to Europe since before the kids were born. Any advice would be appreciated 🙂


    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      My personal favorite is and it works really well for Europe. Use the filters on the left hand side of the page to help you select the type of room you’re looking for. Hotels become available about 9 or 10 months in advance on booking so you should start to see rooms soon.

  26. Booking Hotel for Family of 4

    Great info !!
    I love name your price option through I’ve also been using for a while. Our family of 4 used it to visit New York, Atlantic City, VA beach, Cali, Paris, Canada, Brazil, Italy, France and etc.


  27. Hotel Website for Best Rates

    Hi David,

    Reading your posts, you seem to be a fan of (as I am).
    There is a new site ( which is the perfect companion for it!
    Just book a hotel as you’re used then send them the confirmation (much like TripIt), they will keep looking for better prices within the same hotel/dates/room type until a day before your check-in. If it finds cheaper you get an email with a link to re-book with the new rate. Pretty cool!


  28. Thailand Hotel Advice


    Your post has been really helpful and you’ve so much good advice already about thailand 🙂 me and my partner are heading in February for 3 weeks. Our plan is (roughly, and time depending!) Bangkok> Chaing Mai> Phuket > island hopping near Koa Tao, Koh Samui etc and then finishing up in Krabi/Koh lanta. We want to book some hotels and have flexibility incase we want to stay somewhere longer or move on sooner than planned!

    We are complete novice travellers but we want a mixture of some nice hotels with some beaches houses/bungalows and mid-range hotels/guesthouses as well. What is the best way to book these? Book a few and then the rest as we go? I know there’s lots of hotels to choose from when we arrive but we don’t want to be rushing about looking for hotels and wasting valuable time. Do you have any tips for picking/finding hotels as you go?
    Also, as far as seeing your room before you decide on it, is it common to ask to do this before you agree to take the room? What’s the best way to do this?

    Some of these questions probably seem silly/stupid but we just want to be as prepared as properly and our previous holidays haven’t involved this kind of travelling so any help will be greatly appreciated! 🙂

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Some thoughts:
      –Hotel hunting is fun given you have enough time and patience. Some people do, some don’t. Some people like not knowing where they’re sleeping that night, some have a nervous breakdown if they don’t have a hotel reserved. And finally, some places lend themselves to wandering about looking for a hotel (e.g. Khao San Road in Bangkok) and some place don’t (beach resorts on Phuket).
      –If you’re on a tight schedule then booking ahead is the best way to do it. As you say, you don’t want to be wasting time looking around for a room when you could be doing other things. The more time you have the more flexibility you have and the more time to “waste” half a day wandering around Chaweng looking for a hotel. With your aggressive 3-week schedule I do not see much time available for hotel hunting.
      –I will often book a hotel for the first night or two in a location and use that first day to look for a hotel.
      –I often will ask to look at rooms when I’m enquiring (in person) at a hotel. Budget and mid-range hotels in the city will usually consent. Budget, mid-range, and luxury hotels in a vacation destination will usually consent. (But not luxury hotels in a city.)
      –If you use (which I recommend) you can add a note to your booking that will be received by the hotel and responded to. Ironically, contacting the hotel directly does not receive as prompt or consistent a reply. I’m guessing that this is because the email address they have posted on their website is not checked very often or consistently but the email address for the account has to be checked regularly.

      Hope that helps.

  29. Book in Advance or Last Minute?

    I’m planning a trip around Europe with my wife in July and August 2015. I’m very flexible with my dates and where I want to go. I really don’t mind what hotel I go too, but I want to keep it cheap. Will I be able to do that if I book hotels the same day or should I plane everything out and reserve a couple of month in advance? And the same question concerning the plane should I reserve early or should I buy a last minutes ticket. Thanks

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      The plane should be the first thing you book. The best deals are found months in advance. The earlier you can book the flight the better. Once the very cheapest rates are booked they’re gone. With hotels you have a bit more flexibility but still I would generally say the earlier you book the better the prices you’ll find.

  30. Booking Hotels for Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Toronto

    Hi, i’m flying from Dublin to Chicago at beginning of August, spending a few days there and then onwards to Denver, San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas, and Toronto. As this is probably peak season, should I be looking to book hotels asap or would a month or two in advance suffice?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Hi Martin. No guarantees but I would wait. Hotels are not actively managing those months yet (they’re on auto-pilot with standard rack-rates). When it gets closer, say 2 to 4 months, they start taking a closer look and discounting some rooms if need be. If there was a particular hotel you wanted to stay in, then yes, I’d book that in advance. But if you’re simply looking for the best rates then wait until the spring.

      Good luck.

  31. Booking Hotels for Mexico

    Could you recommend a website for booking hotels in Puerto Vallarta? What section of town would you stay in to be close to the beach?


    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      For hotels use Hotelscombined.

      The Zona Hotelera (just north of downtown PV) and the area south of the Rio Cuale, around Los Muertos beach (within the city) have the best beaches. Many other small towns north (Bucerias, Sayulita) and south (Mismaloya, Yelapa) of PV also have great beaches.

  32. Booking Hotels for Koh Samui

    We have 3 nights that we’re able to get out of Bangkok and hit the beach. Can you recommend the best island to get to for a weekend visit – and a hotel that will make us think we’re in paradise. Thanks.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Koh Samui is the quickest island to get to from Bangkok. It’s a one hour flight and the airport is within minutes of the beach. Choeng Mon and Bophut are my 2 favorite beaches on Samui. But if you’re looking for an awesome hotel in a tranquil, idyllic setting I’d have to say the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui is the best hotel on the island.

      Good luck.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      It depends the island. It’s starting to slow down by September but the most popular islands are still pretty busy. It also depends what you’re looking for and how many people you’re traveling with. A solo backpacker happy with a roof over their head will be fine on almost any island in September (as long as you don’t leave it until 8pm at night to start looking for a place). But a family of 4 – or 2 couples that want to stay at the same hotel would be wise to book at least a few days in advance.

      All that said, I would book in advance for Santorini, Rhodes, Corfu, and Chania in Crete. As long as I arrived early in the day, islands such as Naxos, Paros, Milos, Ios, Lesvos, or Samos (or any islands less popular than those) should be ok to arrive without anything pre-booked.

      A good compromise is to book the first night in advance online, and then use your first day searching around town for that perfect hotel or a great deal.

      Good luck.

  33. Good 4 Star Hotel in Athens, Greece

    What part of Athens would you stay in? And could you recommend a good hotel? I guess 4 or 5 stars though not really picky. Location is more important than quality but would like to have both.

    Thank you for your time.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      The best neighborhood in Athens for visitors is the Plaka district. It can be a bit on the touristy side but it’s very pedestrian friendly, has lots of good restaurants, is close to the Acropolis and other key attractions, and has the highest concentration of hotels.

      A great hotel in the Plaka is the Electra Palace Hotel. Very close to lots of shops and restaurants and an easy walk to the Acropolis.

      Hope that helps.

  34. Booking Airport Hotels

    What’s a good hotel at London Heathrow? It will be 2 adults and a 6 year old child.


    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      The Hilton London Heathrow is great. – A covered walkway connects with terminal 4 of Heathrow (and from there a free express train to other terminals). The hotel has a great pool and several restaurants (and many more within the terminal).

      Hope that helps.

  35. Best Swimming Pool in San Francisco

    What hotel in San Francisco has a nice swimming pool? We’re not picky about the location as we’ll have a rental car but definitely need a pool (the bigger the better) for the kids.

    Prefer something mid-range, not super expensive.


    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      The Best Western Corte Madera Inn has a wonderful pool. It’s not in the city – just across the Golden Gate bridge in Corte Madera – but if you don’t mind a 15 minute drive into the city it’s a great option. Free breakfast (admittedly not great), huge pool, grassy lawn, nice jacuzzi. A short walk from an upscale mall and grocery store. Plus, when it’s cold and foggy in the city it can be warm and beautiful out in Marin.

      Good luck.

  36. Seattle Hotel near Pike Place Market

    I’ll be visiting Seattle in October and would like to visit Pike Place market. Problem is I have trouble walking long distances. What hotels are close to the market and are they any good? Thank you.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Inn at the Market is a fantastic hotel and located right in the center of Pike Place Market. The delicious Steelhead Diner is literally right across the street. Hope that helps.

  37. Recommended Hotels in Tokyo

    I’ll be arriving on a evening flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo. I’m not usually a five star gal but I think I’m going to splurge on something nice for the first 2 nights.

    What are your suggestions for a luxurious Tokyo hotel? And what website would you use for Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe to find 3 or 4 star hotels? (Preferably with good rates or deals.)

    Thank you so much.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      A couple thoughts:

      If you’re looking for a luxury hotel that will make getting from Narita to your hotel fast and easy then I’d recommend the Four Seasons Hotel at Marunouchi. They offer a special service that will greet you at the airport and guide you all the way to your hotel. And even if you don’t, the hotel is very close to Tokyo station and its direct train connection to the airport.

      If getting to or from the airport doesn’t concern you (or if you’re just jumping in a taxi anyways) then the best hotel in Tokyo is the Park Hyatt. (If you’ve seen Lost in Translation it’s the hotel that Bill Murray stays at.) It’s amazing. Love the restaurants around there too, though it does lack easy access to the subway (the hotel does offer a free shuttle to the Shinjuku station).

      Hope that helps. Enjoy and Good luck.

  38. Nice Hotel Pool in Bangkok

    Will be in Bangkok for 4 nights and would like a lovely place to stay with a nice pool – but (and I’m sure you hear this all the time) but not too expensive. Any ideas? Thank you for your time and your wonderful website. Very helpful.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      The Amari Watergate Bangkok is one of my favorites in the city. Great outdoor pool, awesome restaurants, good location – and yes, not too expensive.

  39. Business visit to Athens

    What is the best luxury hotel in Athens, Greece? This is a business trip and I’ll be meeting and greeting some clients in the lobby so it needs to be nice. Actually, nicer than nice. So what’s the best in your opinion?


    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      I think everyone would agree that the Hotel Grande Bretagne is the classiest, most well regarded and exclusive hotel in Athens. Get a suite with a view of the Acropolis if you really want to go all out.

      For a 5 star hotel that specifically has business travelers in mind (with meeting rooms and conference suites) then go with the Hilton Athens (not as central as the Grande Bretagne, though it does have the best swimming pool in Athens).

      Good luck.

  40. Sue

    I am going to Greece in September with my husband and have not been able to find any affordable hotels. I though Greece was cheap! Help. You seem to know Greece well. What are the best websites for Greek hotels?

    We’ll be visiting Mykonos, Santorini, and Paros.


    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Greece has not been a cheap destination for 10 or 20 years. It got progressively more expensive through the 90’s and then took another big jump with the introduction of the Euro. That said, there are some good deals to be found and it offers better value for money than Southern France or the Italian coast.

      For your specific destinations use these pages:
      Hotels in Mykonos
      Hotels in Santorini
      Hotels in Paros

      Focus on Santorini first as that is the most unforgiving island for late bookers.

      Good luck.

  41. Booking Hotels for Europe

    I’m taking my daughter to Europe with me in the fall and am wondering how far in advance I should book hotels. And advice? I’m mainly concerned about Italy as we’ll be staying with friends in Paris. Can you recommend a website for hotels in Venice and Rome?

  42. Booking Apartments for Paris

    We’re going to Paris in September and would like to stay in a flat. What are the best websites for booking apartments in Europe? Thank you.


  43. Best Hotel Websites for Southeast Asia

    Hi David,

    Great post, I use Agoda and Hotelscombined all the time. Which booking sites would you say are untrustworthy, so that I know which ones to stay away from?

  44. Best Apps for Booking Hotels

    Hello David,

    I’d love to know your opinion on booking hotels from mobile devices. I’ve uploaded a bunch of apps on my Android phone, but I’m not sure if that is trustworthy. What do you think?


  45. Booking Hotels for China

    Hi David,

    I’m taking a trip to China for a month from June – July. I booked a hotel in Beijing off of Expedia and after reading your article it made me pretty skeptical. Is Expedia reputable for Asian hotels? Also, I was planning on taking a train from Beijing to different parts of China before hitting Hong Kong. I’m hoping to sleep on the train – what are your thoughts on that? Finally, I have no accommodation in Hong Kong and I will be there in July so do you think I need to book early?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Hi Vincent. I would have full confidence in your Expedia booking. I’m sure your reservation is fine. (That said, contacting hotels directly after a booking is a good idea.)

      Hong Kong is one city where I would definitely book in advance regardless of the time of the visit.

      I hope that helps. Good luck.

  46. Booking 3 Star, 4 Star Hotels

    Hi David,
    Would you have any suggestions for a web site for booking hotels (3 or 4 star) Santiago, Chile. I would travel from India in June end and it is an appprox 36 hours journey via Sao Paulo. So a good pre-booked room would be really mandatory to crash-in. The stay would be for 10-12 nights.
    Anupam Mathur

  47. Book Hotel and Air Fares Together

    You discuss the best way to get cheap air fares and the best way to get great hotel deals, but you don’t discuss the pros and cons of booking these together. Do you think people should not book flights and hotels together to get the best deals?


    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      That’s a great point Rosemarie. Thanks for asking about that. I know you can get some very good deals when you book flight and hotel together. I never book this way as I usually travel on a more independent and flexible itinerary. It’s all in the details so you just have to sort through them and compare prices. I would think that canceling a booked hotel when purchased in a flight/hotel combo might well be more difficult.

      1. Rosemarie


        That’s a good point I didn’t think of–about canceling a booked hotel when purchased in a flight/hotel combo. Thanks for pointing that out. I will think about that when planning a long stay at a destination.



  48. Trip to Japan with Kids

    Any tips for Japan with 2 young kids (1 and 4)? Tokyo overnight first and last nights, 2 nights in Hakone, 4 nights Kyoto.. thanks!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Your 4 year old will likely love the train museum in Kyoto. Definitely get to a Japanese bath house. Be ready for lots of walking and up and down subway stairs.

  49. Where to Stay in Bay Area

    In San Francisco would you stay in Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco or somewhere else? When’s the best time to visit?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Staying in San Francisco is the way to go. Berkeley and Oakland are great but most of the top notch attraction are all in San Francisco. The best time to visit is June or September. The weather is the nicest but the high season crowds haven’t arrived yet. February and March can be good times too as it’s often very quiet then but you can still get some decent weather.

  50. Booking Hotels for Cancun, Mexico

    We’re going on vacation in Cancun this summer. When would you start looking for hotels? When would you book? Thanks.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      I’d start looking in April and book as soon as you find a good deal. What’s a good deal? Well, you’ll get a feel for it as you start to research the hotel scene there. In general for a resort destination like Cancun I would expect 2 to 3 months in advance would have the best deals. But if it’s a slow season then you could have the best rates right at the last minute. Waiting could be risky though.

  51. Booking Hotels for Goa

    This is helpful. Would you advise booking hotels in Goa before I arrive? I’m a single female traveler and not sure how that will go? Still sorting out which beach to stay at? Have you been? Thanks bunches.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      I’ve been to India 3 times and love it there. I assume you’ll be arriving in Delhi or Mumbai first. If so I would book a hotel room for your first night or 2 there. Arriving in India for the first time is culture shock in the extreme so have a confirmed place can sure help.

      As for Goa, if you’re planning on staying at a beach town in a 2 or 3 star hotel (which is what I recommend) then you shouldn’t need to book in advance. Just show up and you’ll find a good place at a ridiculously cheap price. If you were planning on a resort or 4 or 5 star hotel then I would use or to book something as they’ll have far better rates than the hotels will offer themselves.

      My favorite beach towns are Benaulim and Palolem. Both have some great restaurants, a nice beach, and cool vibe.

      Good luck.

  52. How Early to Book Hotels?

    When should I book hotels for Santorini? Planning a trip for the summer. Would also like to visit other islands if they are easy to get to. But not if they involve long ferry rides. Do ferries in Greece have sleeper units?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      If you have a specific hotel you want to stay in (as many do for Santorini) then yes, you need to book far in advance.

      If you’re only looking to find the best deal then book as early as possible for July and August. You need not book in advance for October through May. June and September are a toss-up.

      Getting to other islands is easy from Santorini as it has lots of ferry connections. Yes, there are overnight ferries with sleeping cabins. But not to every island. To Athens and Rhodes for sure. But that might be it. The rest of the islands are too close to allow for a sleeper-ferry.

  53. When to Book Hotels for Thailand?

    Are pre-reservations necessary for traveling through Thailand? We will visit Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Koh Samui, and Phuket (maybe). If I don’t book what will we do if there are no rooms? Does this happen often?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      I would make arrangements for a hotel for the first night or 2 in each destination but then hunt around for hotels once you’ve been in each spot for a few days. It’s a great way to find deals (and see the hotel you’ll be staying in). Though it’s getting harder and harder to beat the discounts you find online. All these hotel booking sites are so competitive it’s hard to beat them, but probably worth trying. is a great site for hotels in Thailand. It features guest reviews that are way more credible than the Tripadvisor ones. You have to have booked through the sie to be able to write a review, which isn’t foolproof – a hotel could still “book” through the site itself and then write the review but at least it’s some sort of check.

      Good luck.

  54. Finding Cheap Hotels in Europe

    Planning a eurail trip around Europe. Any advice for finding cheap hotels? Thanks for your time. (Will probably go to Amsterdam, France, Italy, and Barcelona)

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      A good trick for saving money with a Eurail pass is to book overnight train rides. It saves you the expense of a hotel for the night – and is really fun.

      Another one is to (depending on the type of Eurail pass you have) stay on the outskirts of a city, then early morning trip into the city, maybe stay 1 night, and then a late night departure the next evening to another smaller (and cheaper) town on your way to the next country.

      I probably wouldn’t book too much in advance for this type of trip. The more flexibility you have the funner a trip like this often is. And if you’ve booked all your hotels in advance then, of course, it’s hard to wake up in the morning and say, “Hey, what country should I take the train to today?”

      Have fun and good luck.

  55. Good Deals for Seattle

    Will be in Seattle in late June. Should I book now or wait to get last minute rates? Someone told me that June is a great time for good deals as the summer tourists haven’t arrived yet. Does this apply to SEattle?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      There’s a grain of truth to that, June is not as crazy busy as July and August but it’s still very busy! Book as early as possible (check here: Seattle hotels). Good luck.

  56. Booking Hotels for Hong Kong

    Going to Hong Kong. I usually book very early but have not been able to find good rates on the hotels I usually stay. Is this a busy year for Hong Kong?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      Hong Kong just keeps getting busier and busier. It’s a very popular for mainland Chinese and as they get wealthier they travel, shop and stay in hotels more. Book early and in the future try to plan your trips (if possible) with Chinese holidays in mind. Here’s a link to get started: hotels in Hong Kong.

      I hope that helps.

  57. Website for Hotels in London

    What site would you recommend for London? Are these sites you mention trustworthy, have you used them, can you cancel? Thanks!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotels Guy

      For the best deals use this link: London Hotels

      Yes, I trust all of these sites. That’s not to say they’re perfect but they are all legitimate companies that have been around for a while. I know that feeling you’re talking about though. I’ve booked with several different sites in Southeast Asia that were small and that were unknown to me and after you click the submit button you’re hoping it’s not a big scam. I’ve never had any bad luck with hotel booking sites however – even the small ones. I don’t think they’d be around long (or get any traffic) if they were scam sites. Of the ones I’ve listed above you’ll occasionally read a complaint about them on a travel forum or some other site but you have to remember how many hotels they book every day so you’re bound to have some complaints.

      The best advice I can give is after you book, call or email the hotel directly to ensure that they’ve got the booking and the correct details.

      For most of these sites, yes, you can cancel without any penalty but the details are in the fine print and can be different for each hotel even through the same website. So check the terms of cancellation for each individual booking. Many of the sites have a “best price” feature that they offer because most guests don’t bother to check back to see if rates have dropped. So if you take the trouble you can often get another discount over the original amount.

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