Every hotel booking site claims to offer the best deals and largest range of accommodation options. We planned a holiday and looked for rooms all over the world, to find out if these claims are true.
We assess sites such as Booking.com, Expedia, Agoda and more.
We assess the quality of the service from the start of your search, right up to the booking stage. We look at search tools, comparison features and general use.
We search for a hotel room in the same location on each service.
We assess how easy it is to search for a room and filter the results. We look at:
- Text: readability and amount of information provided in the list of search results.
- Map: is a map present and can it be used to navigate results and browse for other hotels in the vicinity?
- Setting travel dates
- Occupants: can you easily select the number of occupants? Can you select twin single rooms for two travelers, rather than having to use a double or queen bed?
- Cost parameters: can you easily and specifically set price brackets?
- Ratings: can you select based on star ratings?
- Facilities information: how easily can you filter results based on facility requirements?
- Other: does the service supply other custom filters that can narrow down search results to suit your specific travel needs, such as accessibility or a 24-hour front desk?
- Hotel detail: do the search results provide an adequate level of information about the hotel? Basic information you would expect such as facilities, occupancy, star rating, price and user reviews. Are there photos, and is their source and the number of total images included? Is there the option to select different languages?
- List score: this concerns information listed in the previewed results, how the list is ordered and whether this is clearly defined. We also consider ability to customise this list, such as organising by cost or rating, and how this rating is defined.
- Inbuilt map: we look for maps that are easy to browse, to find accommodation that suits your travel plans with regards to location and proximity, and the amount of information provided by the map, when you click on a hotel.
We assess the quality of other tools that make for an easier booking or cancellation process.
- Booking service support and contact information
- Logon: do you need an account to book and is it easy to create?
- Advertising: whether or not ads are present, are they invasive and are they clearly identified as ads or are they masquerading as search results?
- Multiple language options
- Multiple currency options
Search (total number of results)
To assess search performance, we search for a room in local and international urban and regional areas.
Searches were conducted on the following dates and times, to ensure comparable results across the services:
- Melbourne, Australia: 22 January 2019 at 13:00
- Broken Hill, Australia: 21 January 2019 at 18:30
- Paris, France: 22 January 2019 at 11:30
- Munster, Germany: 22 January 2019 at 17:45
We looked for an overnight stay in November 2019, in a five-star room for two occupants in the above locations.
We determine our own proximity results based on the centre of these locations, as each service has various results boundaries in place that don't match up. By setting our own limitations, we are able to accurately compare the number of results in a specific area.
Results are hand-counted. A greater number of results equals a higher score.
We set our web browser to incognito mode, open each hotel booking service, then search for the following hotels within the space of a minute:
- Mecure Hotel, Albert Park, Melbourne
- Ibis Hotel, Montemartre, Paris
We select popular hotels in popular locations as they are available to book on every service. That way, we can compare price results to see if a particular service really does offer the 'best prices' compared to others.
Hotel booking sites come in two versions:
- Aggregation services take you to the hotel's website, or a separate booking service.
- Booking services allow you to complete the booking within the site as well.
Because of this, we can't comparatively assess and score the booking section of each service, as this is not always available. Instead, we assess those that include booking, but this data does not contribute to the overall score. The assessment looks at general ease of use, including:
- Information required to book: phone number, email etc.
- Payment options
- Cancellation and changes: we look for services that clearly outline cancellation fees, whether or not you can make changes to your booking, the extent of these changes (e.g. dates, room type and room size) and additional costs.
The overall score for our hotel booking site reviews is made up of:
- Ease of use (70%)
- Performance (30%)
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.