Booking a bed: from sites to swaps

From free accommodation options like couch surfing to the hotel booking sites that get you five stars for fewer dollars, we look at ways for you to find the accommodation that suits your trip.
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01.Futon or The Ritz?


Depending on your destination, accommodation can make up a fair chunk of the cost of your holiday. But there are ways of keeping costs to a minimum, or even eliminating them altogether. CHOICE has looked at the options available and found that there are substantial savings to be had - if you know where to look.

In this report you will find information on:

Top tips

  1. Don’t take a star rating as evidence of a good hotel. Always check reviews before making a booking.
  2. The difference between booking sites isn’t just in their prices – it pays to read the fine print. Some sites allow refunds or cancellations to certain bookings, while others do not.
  3. Breakfast at your hotel can be an expensive convenience. If you’re on a budget, consider a room-only rate and have breakfast on the run.
  4. Scammers have been known to haunt classified sites such as Craigslist, as well as apartment rental sites. Check websites directly, and if in doubt, confirm the third party is actually affiliated with the hotel/apartment you’re looking to book by calling them directly.
  5. Got a dud room? Ask to see an alternative. Hotels often have several types of rooms available at the same price, and may be willing to move you to a different one that’s more to your taste.
  6. Cut out the middleman. Some hotels may offer to match or even beat prices available on third-party websites if approached directly, as this means they save on commission. And the booking conditions may be more favourable if booked direct, with greater flexibility for date changes. 
  7. If you’ve already booked a hotel with one site but found a cheaper rate elsewhere, see if your booking was covered by a best price guarantee. If it was, the hotel booking site may (subject to its terms and conditions, see tip 8) refund the difference, or even beat the price. 
  8. Watch for tricky fine print., for example, states that it can unilaterally refuse to honour its price match guarantee at its sole discretion “to any person, at any time, for any or no reason, and without prior notice”.


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