booking directly with hotel vs using booking.com

Booking directly with a hotel or using a third-party site like Booking.com? Find out which is better!

Are you planning a trip and you’re trying to decide whether to book your accommodation directly through the hotel’s website or through a site like Booking.com? There are pros and cons to both options, but in the end, it comes down to what works best for you.

Here’s a look at some of the key differences between directly booking a hotel and using a third-party booking website.

2 days in Florence: accommodation - Yome

Should you book directly with a hotel or 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 hotelUsing Booking.com
Online bookingSometimesYes
Free cancellationSometimesAlmost always
Pay in advanceOftenRarely
DiscountsSometimesSometimes
ReviewsRarelyYes
Loyalty pointsBigger chains usually give loyalty points, but smaller hotels usually don’tNo. But they have a loyalty program called Genius that gets mostly discounts, but also other perks like free upgrades
Free breakfastUsually yesUsually yes
Best priceSometimesSometimes
Booking with hotel brand loyalty pointsYes, for hotels that offer pointsNo. But they sometimes offer cashback in the form of credits for future bookings

Using Booking.com for hotel reservations: Pros and cons

Pros (+)

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 you 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 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 that likes to research a place before making a reservation, then Booking.com makes this really easy with their Reviews section. Only people that 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.

sheraton maldives review: overwater bungalow bathtub

Cons (-)

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 than the actual hotels, though it can also happen the other way around at times.

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

Pros (+)

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.

Cons (-)

Online booking: Though this is becoming rarer and rarer, 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 cancelation 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.

Zabola Estate in Romania

What I use to book accommodation for my trips

Since I don’t prefer a certain chain of hotels, rather I usually 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.

On rare occasions, I also check the site of the hotel for rates comparison, but only book directly if the room is considerably cheaper. The reason for this is that I like the flexibility that Booking.com offers (specifically, free cancellation and no advance payments).

Not only that, but I also often get discounts for being a level 3 Genius, and while these might not be extremely substantial, it still adds up in the end.

Lastly, with Booking.com you can also use cashback sites, something you can often do when booking directly with the hotel.


Booking directly with a hotel vs. using Booking.com: Conclusion

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. But if you value loyalty rewards, 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.

Happy travels~


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