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Booking.com: 5 tips to save on booking hotels and accommodation - and 3 things you CANNOT use the site for

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Are you looking for the perfect accommodation for your trip? So read along here, where we give you the best tips for Booking.com
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Booking.com: 5 tips to save on booking hotels and accommodation - and 3 things you CANNOT use the site for is written by Anna Christensen.

How to use Booking.com to save money

Booking.com is one of the largest online booking portals in terms of accommodation. Although the booking site is best known for booking hotels, you can find everything from hostels, cabins, glamping sites and holiday homes there. Yes, you can even find micro houses!

You may have already used Booking.com to book accommodation, and you may even be thinking: “What should I do with a guide? How difficult can it be to write the destination and date and then press 'book'?”.

But there are actually some things that are pretty good to know about Booking.com before you book your accommodation; it includes, among other things, tips on how you can save money on your overnight stays.

That is why we have put together a complete guide on how to get the most out of the booking page.

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Use filters to find the best hotel for you

One of the best things about Booking.com is the many filters that you can use to narrow down your search and find the perfect accommodation.

There are many filters, so you can adapt your search to exactly the accommodations that best suit your needs. For example, you can sort by your budget, how many stars the hotel has, and even by how sustainable the hotel is. Then you don't have to scroll through a whole lot of accommodation before you find one that meets your requirements.

Here are some filters that may be obvious to use when booking a hotel:

  • Distance to the center
  • Price
  • Breakfast included (if you are up for it)
  • 24-hour reception (especially if you arrive at an odd time or don't know your arrival time)
  • Parking – especially if you are on a driving holiday or road trip
  • Free wi-fi
  • User reviews

You can also use the excellent map function to limit the number of possible hotels.

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Save money with Genius status

If you want to save money on your overnight stays – and who doesn't? - then it is advantageous to create an account on Booking.com and sign up for their loyalty program genius.

It's free to sign up for the Genius program, and you already reach the first level just by signing up and logging in, which gives you up to a 10% discount on your booking and car rental.

The more bookings you make, the higher level of Genius status you achieve. After 5 bookings you reach level 2, and after 15 bookings within two years, you reach the highest level 3. You can see what benefits you get as a Genius member here:

Level 1 Genius Member:

  • 10% discount on overnight stays
  • 10% discount on rental cars

Level 2 Genius member:

  • 10-15% discount on stay
  • 10% discount on rental cars
  • Free room upgrades on select stays
  • Free breakfast on selected stays

Level 3 Genius member:

  • 10-20% discount on stay
  • 10% discount on rental cars
  • Free breakfast on selected stays
  • Free room upgrades on select stays
  • Priority customer service on all stay bookings

Another great thing about having an account is that you can save your favorite stays and accommodations for the future.

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Sold out on Booking.com does not necessarily mean sold out

If you have used Booking.com before, you have certainly experienced that the site says, for example: "Only 1 room left on this date". However, it is often a trick that the booking portal uses to get you to act faster. There are often more rooms left than what is warned about.

If you are unlucky enough to find that your dream hotel is sold out on Booking.com, don't lose all hope. Just because a hotel is sold out on the booking page does not mean that the hotel has no more rooms left on your desired dates.

This means that the booking site only gets a certain number of rooms, which they can resell. If it is sold out on Booking.com, it is therefore quite possible that you can find it on other accommodation sites or on the hotel's own website.

It is therefore always a good idea to check the hotel's own website or others booking portals such as Hotels.com, if it says that the accommodation is sold out on Booking.com.

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The top options are not necessarily the best

Since booking sites like Booking.com live off the money they earn from your hotel booking, they also aim to earn as much as possible.

That's why the booking site places the accommodation options from which they make the most money at the top of the search to get you to choose them. When you search for accommodation options, it is therefore not necessarily the best that appear first.

Instead, the top options are often the ones that Booking.com makes the most money promoting. Sometimes it's the best option, but it's worth checking across other portals before booking your accommodation.

Use the filters in the left bar to filter the search according to your needs, so you are sure that you get the results that suit you best, and not what Booking makes the most of.

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Use previous guest reviews

One of the great things about Booking.com is that you can find previous guests' reviews of the accommodation. Use them - they are there for a reason.

The previous reviews can save you from booking a night in a place that gives you nightmares instead of sweet dreams. A property's guest rating says a lot about what to expect, so always go in and read the reviews.

A good tip is to read some of the individual user reviews and look for big things that repeat themselves. It could be problems with wi-fi, bed bugs, problems with noise, cheating with pictures or the like. You can also cross-check with e.g. Tripadvisor's reviews of the same place.

You can easily find cheap places with good reviews, so always check the place's guest rating before you book an overnight stay.

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Check for additional costs

It is important to be aware of any additional costs when booking a hotel or other accommodation through Booking.com, as this can have a major impact on the price in the end.

In many places, breakfast and cancellation are not included in the price, so you have to pay extra for that. But the most important things to check are the slightly more 'hidden' expenses such as heating, air conditioning, internet or local taxes. At some accommodations, you have to pay extra if you want to use heating or air conditioning, and it can be expensive, so check if there are any extras.

This will usually appear if the accommodation offers free cancellation within a certain time period. It can be really good to have this security, as travel plans can change and something can get in the way. If there is no mention of cancellation, expect that it costs money to cancel.

So always remember to check the fine print and calculate extra costs. Sometimes it pays to stay in a better place simply because more is included in the price.

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3 things you can't use Booking.com for

Booking.com is a booking portal. This means that you can only use it for booking hotels and other overnight stays, and therefore you cannot compare with other places, as you can for example Trivago or Momondo.

It's the first thing you can't use booking.com for.

If you want to compare accommodation prices, use a comparison portal instead. It's always a good idea to do this before you book your accommodation no matter what, so you're sure you're getting the best price.

Comparison portals can be seen as the top layer of the entire booking pyramid. Some of the most well-known comparison portals are Momondo and Trivago. Their function is to find the places that have the cheapest offer on specific booking portals. They are used to compare across booking sites, so you cannot book accommodation directly with comparison portals.

The booking portals are the next level. This is where you can actually book your accommodation and they handle your booking request for the accommodation. These are, for example, sites such as Booking.com, Hotels.com and Airbnb.

The second is that you also cannot be sure that you will get the lowest possible price – not even with Genius discounts.

It is always a good idea to check the hotel's own website - or others comparison portals – to see if they have a better offer than you can find on Booking.com. Sometimes they have, as the booking portals charge a large fee from the hotels, which they can then save if you book directly.

Thirdly, you can't be sure to find all the hotels – or all the rooms – in the area you'll be staying in. Booking.com has many hotels, but not all. Typically, very successful, new or very local hotels will not be included.

It may also be that you can only find some of the types of rooms that a hotel has. If a hotel can always sell their luxury rooms themselves, for example, but not their standard rooms, they often only list the standard rooms on booking.com.

It is therefore always a good idea to check the hotel's own website and other portals before using booking.com.

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How to get the most out of Booking.com

  • Use previous guest reviews to find the best hotel
  • Save money by creating an account and get Genius member discounts
  • The first hotel is not always the best, but it is the one that Booking.com makes the most money from
  • Always use their filters and search options to find the best solution for you
  • Sold out on Booking.com does not necessarily mean that the hotel has no more rooms left. Also check other pages and the hotel's own website
  • Check for extra costs before you book – otherwise it can quickly become expensive
  • Remember to check whether you get free cancellation in connection with the booking and what the deadline for cancellation is
  • Download the booking page travel app, so you have it at hand on the journey

About the author

Anna Christensen

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