How We Reviewed Booking.com
41 Travel Sites Evaluated
2 Weeks of Airfare Tracking
5 Features Considered
With robust tools that greatly simplify the user experience, customer favorite Booking.com offers easy access to one of the widest selections of traditional hotels and harder-to-find lodging options. We found eight different types of places to stay in your dream destination — everything from cabins to villas to resorts. Unfortunately, Booking.com can’t accommodate you if you’re searching for excursions or cruises. But for everything else, it’s a solid travel planning resource.
Booking.com tells its customers that, “Whoever you are, whatever you want, we’ve got the perfect place for you.” Travel shoppers may assume that Booking.com can help you plan any variation of vacation. Its phrasing implies near limitless booking capabilities.
Is it true?
Sort of. If where you want to go is on a cruise, you’re out of luck with Booking.com. And in our testing for the best travel sites, we also found its car rental features to be hit or miss. Sometimes our vehicle options would be slim, and most of the time they were nonexistent.
That said, Booking.com does offer a unique variety of places to stay while on your trip. You aren’t limited to just hotels; you can search for apartments, beach resorts, B&B’s, cabins, villas, or cottages. If you’re looking to spice up that part of your trip, Booking.com presents diverse accommodations.
A wide variety of accommodation options
Cruises and car rentals
|Standout Features||Alternative accommodations, deals newsletter|
|Booking Options||Hotels, flights, car rental|
|In Business Since||1996|
In an independent study by J.D. Power, Booking.com scored highest among travel sites in terms of overall customer satisfaction. The company received above-average ratings in all categories — the only company in the study to do so — and customers particularly appreciated Booking.com’s clean website layout and intuitive booking process. The wide variety of travel accommodations available and the detailed information about each property also left a good impression on those who visited the website.
In addition to hotels, Booking.com offers deals on a number of other places to stay, including resorts, vacation rentals, and hostels. Some of these lodging options can be found on other travel sites, but certain types of accommodations like bed and breakfasts and homestays are a little harder to come by on most major travel booking websites. If you’re interested in one of these alternative travel accommodations, definitely explore what Booking.com has to offer, because you won’t be able to find a selection like this elsewhere.
Thematic search filter
Booking.com enables you to search for travel accommodations by theme, some of which are based on locations or amenities like beach and spa hotels, while others are tailored to specific groups of travelers like families and businesspeople. If you fit into one of these categories, this is a good place to start your search. You can also add additional search criteria, including specific dates and hotel ratings, to speed up the process of finding the perfect place to stay.
Booking.com’s app has garnered some of the highest reviews of any mobile app in the industry, earning a 4.8 out of five stars from customers. Available on Android, Apple, and Windows phones, the app gives you access to all of the same search tools found on the company’s website. If you’re looking for a last-minute hotel, Booking.com’s mobile app shows you what’s available in your area with just a few clicks. Once you’ve made your reservation, the app even provides a map directing you to the location using the GPS in your phone. Signing into your account from the app makes the booking process move even faster, and all of your searches and payment information are automatically synced with your phone for future use.
Secret deals for newsletter subscribers
Booking.com’s newsletters contain Secret Deals, which are half-price accommodations available for a short time. These emails can be customized by selecting your favorite travel destinations. Booking.com keeps an eye out for any deals that apply and alerts you right away, so you can finally book that dream vacation at a price that fits within your budget. It’s free to subscribe to these newsletters and you can unsubscribe at any time, but they’re definitely worth a look if you want insider information on the best hotel deals available.
List prices don't include tax
Like its parent company Priceline, Booking.com doesn’t factor in taxes when quoting prices for hotels, so the rate you see listed may be slightly less than what you’ll actually end up paying. This is somewhat understandable, since taxes can vary significantly from hotel to hotel, but it’s still something you should be aware of while shopping for a place to stay on Booking.com. As long as you leave a little extra room in your budget to cover these taxes, you should be just fine. This no-tax quirk doesn’t apply to Booking.com’s airfare search, where we looked for our rate comparison — even with taxes, Booking.com’s airfare was still (on average) cheaper than the competition.
No cruise or excursion booking
If you’d like to book a cruise, schedule an excursion, or rent a car, you’ll want to consider another travel site. Booking.com doesn’t offer cruise or excursion booking, unlike sites like Travelocity, so it’s harder to keep all of your travel plans in one place. Additionally, while Booking.com does have car rental options, we found this feature lacking. In our testing, we were rarely offered car rental options in our searches, and when it did offer results, the customization was limited. We either had very few choices for car style or only one pickup location. Because of this, it’s best to stick to hotel rooms and plane tickets when using Booking.com.
Booking.com vs. Travelocity
Travelocity provides a unique activity booking feature that you won’t find with other travel sites. You can find excursions and activities for your trip in the same place you’re booking your stay and finding your flights. And unlike Booking.com, you can find cruises and car rentals here, too. It’s a great travel resource, although, in general, we found Booking.com’s prices to be a bit cheaper than the deals on Travelocity.
Booking.com vs. Kayak
Though both companies are operated by Priceline, Booking.com and Kayak vary pretty significantly in features. With Kayak, you can’t actually book anything through the site. Instead, you’re redirected to the airline or hotel’s site to purchase. This could be complicated if you utilize Kayak’s “hacker fares” (which may use separate airlines for departure and return flights), because you’ll need to book flights on two separate websites. Booking.com, on the other hand, is a direct booking engine.
Does Priceline own Booking.com?
Yes, Booking.com is a subsidiary of Priceline. Most popular travel sites are owned by either Priceline or Expedia. With Expedia’s affiliates, your search results and deals will be the same. But with Priceline-owned sites, you’ll find varied results, deals, and features.
Does Booking.com price match?
Booking.com does have a price match option. You’ll have to find a lower price on an identical booking and contact the site at least 24 hours before your check-in date. If the cheaper deal is part of a promotion or rewards program, it’s not valid. Read more about Booking.com's price match feature here.
Is Booking.com the cheapest travel site?
In our full review of the best travel sites, Booking.com generally offered the cheapest airfare prices. After tracking prices for the same flights over two weeks, we found that Booking.com charged between $10 and $20 less than the competition. While $20 is slim next to a $300 flight, the costs can add up, and we appreciated every opportunity for a price break.