Are you planning a trip and you’re wondering if it is better to book directly with the hotel or use a third-party site like Booking.com? You’ve come to the right place!
Honestly, there are pros and cons to both options, but in the end, it comes down to what works best for you. Personally, I tend to almost always use Booking.com mainly because they have lots of options with free cancellation and no advance payment. I also like the Reviews section and how easy it is to use the website.
But let’s take a look together at some of the key differences between directly booking a hotel and using a third-party booking website.
- Is it better to book directly with hotel or to use Booking.com?
- Comparison of booking directly a hotel vs. using Booking.com
- Using Booking.com for hotel reservations: Pros and cons
- Booking directly with the hotel: Pros and cons
- What I use to book accommodation for my trips
- Booking.com or direct with hotel FAQs
- Conclusion: Is it better to book directly with hotel or Booking.com?
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Is it better to book directly with hotel or to use Booking.com?
The short answer is: It really depends on the way you travel!
If you are someone that often stays at the same chain of hotels thus accumulating loyalty points, then you are better off booking directly with the hotels in question. This is because you can’t use your reward points on Booking.com. Not only that but reserving through a third-party website, most often than not will not earn you any new points either.
However, if you like having the freedom of changing your accommodation up until the last minute or you stay at a variety of hotels, B&Bs, and guesthouses, Booking.com might be the better choice.
Comparison of booking directly a hotel vs. using Booking.com
|Booking directly with the hotel||Using Booking.com|
|Free cancellation||Sometimes||Almost always|
|Pay in advance||Often||Rarely|
|Loyalty points||Bigger chains usually give loyalty points, but smaller hotels usually don’t||No. But they have a loyalty program called Genius that gets mostly discounts, but also other perks like free upgrades|
|Free breakfast||Usually yes||Usually yes|
|Booking with hotel brand loyalty points||Yes, for hotels that offer points||No. But they sometimes offer cashback in the form of credits for future bookings|
Using Booking.com for hotel reservations: Pros and cons
Book online: With Booking.com you can easily book your accommodation online, at any time of day you want. Besides, the reservation process is very straightforward.
Free cancellation: While there’s the occasional exception from the rule, most of the accommodations you will find on Booking.com offer free cancellation up until one or a few days before your stay. This allows you to be flexible with your travel plans.
No advance payment: As with free cancellation, there are exceptions to this. However, the majority of the accommodations on Booking.com don’t require any payment in advance for your room (usually you pay for your stay upon check-in).
This is especially handy when you want to book a hotel, but don’t have the money for it yet.
Discounts: Booking.com has a loyalty program called Genius, through which you can receive discounts. On rare occasions, you can also get free upgrades or cashback in the form of a credit that you can use for future bookings. The Genius program has 3 levels at the moment.
Reviews: If you are someone who likes to research a place before making a reservation, then Booking.com makes this really easy with its Reviews section. Only people who stayed at a hotel can review and score it and you can filter reviews for certain terms.
Cashback: With Booking.com you can also use external cashback sites.
No brand loyalty points: You can’t use your previously earned brand loyalty points on Booking.com, nor you will be able to further accumulate points for any reservations made on the platform at your favorite hotel chains.
Best price: Because Booking.com is a third-party site and operates on commissions, they may offer slightly higher rates at times, than the actual hotels (notice the use of the word may).
It can also happen because hotels prefer people to book directly with them in order to avoid paying fees for Booking, so they might give a discount for reservations made on their website.
In my experience, however, the room price is usually the same (I checked several times!). And on occasion, it can also be lower on booking.com, if the platform throws in an extra discount.
Honestly, I only booked cheaper by going direct once and that was because the hotel was running a special end-of-summer discount on their website.
Funny enough, a friend had to make a reservation on Booking.com once, right in front of the reception, because the room was more expensive as a walk-in and he was told to book it on the platform if he wanted the cheaper price. So the reverse also happens.
Fewer rooms: There might be fewer rooms available to reserve on Booking.com than directly on the hotel’s website.
Booking directly with the hotel: Pros and cons
Best price: Sometimes, booking directly with the hotel can earn you a better deal in terms of room rates or discounts, than going through a third-party website.
Loyalty points: If you prefer to stay at a particular brand of hotels you can earn loyalty points that you can then use for further bookings and upgrades.
Customer service: While Booking.com also has customer service (I actually got in contact with them a few times and they definitely tried to solve my issue the best that they could), sometimes it’s easier to deal directly with the hotel in case something goes wrong.
Now, this is of course a double-edged blade: if the hotel staff doesn’t want to help you, then having an external party trying to resolve your situation is actually better.
Online booking: Though this is becoming quite rare, not all accommodations have their own website through which you can book a room. This is especially true for some guesthouses or small, family-owned hotels.
Free cancellation: In my experience, not all hotels offer free cancellation and even if they do, you still might need to make a payment in advance, which means that upon cancellation you’ll have to wait for them to reimburse you.
Reviews: Most hotels don’t have a review section on their websites, so you will have to do your research on external sites like Tripadvisor.
What I use to book accommodation for my trips
Since I don’t prefer a certain chain of hotels and I usually like to stay at a variety of accommodations, I use Booking.com for most of my trips and so far I had a good experience with it.
Sometimes, I also check the website of the hotel for rates comparison, but only book directly if the room is considerably cheaper (only happened once when the hotel was running a special discount on their website).
The reason for this is that I like the flexibility that Booking.com offers (specifically, the free cancellation and no advance payment policies).
Not only that, but I also often get discounts for being a level 3 Genius, and while these might not be extremely substantial, they still add up in the end. And you can also use cashback sites with Booking.com, something you can’t often do when booking directly with the hotel.
Lastly, searching for accommodation is quite easy and I like how you can read reviews from other travelers directly on the website.
Booking.com or direct with hotel FAQs
Why is Booking.com cheaper than on the hotel’s website?
Booking.com often offers discounts to people that have Genius status and sometimes they even throw some extra ones in the form of cashback or a direct price reduction.
Is it cheaper to book directly with hotel?
It can be, but it’s not a rule. If you have a loyalty status with the chain then yes, it’s probably cheaper to book directly.
Also, sometimes hotel offer discounts to incentivize people to reserve with them in order to avoid paying fees to a 3rd party platform like Booking.com.
But the reverse can also happen. So just check both and compare.
Is Booking.com legit?
Yes, Booking.com is a legit company from the Netherlands and one of the biggest reservation platforms in the world. I personally use them almost exclusively to book my accommodation whenever I travel.
Do you get a better room if you book direct with hotel?
While there’s supposition online that hotels keep the best rooms for themselves, I honestly didn’t experience anything that would support this claim, in my years of traveling.
What is Booking.com’s Genius program?
Genius is Booking.com’s loyalty program. It has three tiers (1st is received upon making an account, 2nd after completing 5 stays in 2 years and 3rd after completing 15 stays in 2 years) and it grants you discounts and perks for future reservations, depending on your tier.
Conclusion: Is it better to book directly with hotel or Booking.com?
Weighing the pros and cons, it’s clear that there are benefits and drawbacks to both options. So it really depends on what you prioritize as a traveler.
If being able to easily change your reservation is your top priority, then booking through a third-party site is probably your best bet (like it is for me).
But if you value loyalty rewards and you are constantly staying at a particular brand, then you might want to consider going straight to the source.
Whichever path you choose, just be sure to do your research so that you end up getting the best deal possible on the perfect hotel for your needs.
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