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By Danika Miller, Staff Writer

Booking.com Review

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 over 20 different types of places to stay in your dream destination — everything from cabins to villas to resorts to a cottage made completely out of chocolate. 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.

The Claim

Booking.com tells its customers, “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&Bs, cabins, villas, cottages, and more. If you’re looking to spice up that part of your trip, Booking.com presents the most diverse set of accommodations of any travel site out there.

Product Overview

Best for

A wide variety of accommodation options

Not for

Cruises and car rentals

Features

Standout features Alternative accommodations
Deals newsletter
Online travel community
Booking options Hotels
Flights
Car rental
App rating Apple App Store: 4.8/5
Google Play: 4.7/5
Owned by Priceline
In business since 1996

Customer satisfaction

In an independent study by J.D. Power from 2014, Booking.com scored third-highest among travel sites in terms of overall customer satisfaction, bested only by Travelocity and Expedia. The company received an above-average rating for the measured categories — competitiveness of pricing, usefulness of information, availability of booking and reservation options, website and online store, ease of booking and reserving, competitiveness of sales and promotions, and contact with customer service. Part of this may be due to Booking.com’s clean website layout and intuitive booking process, as well as the wide variety of travel accommodations available and the detailed information about each property.

Alternative accommodations

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.

Mobile app

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 more than 758,000 customers on the Apple App Store and a 4.7 out of five from more than 1.8 million customers on Google Play. 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.

Travel communities

Booking.com has recently introduced a new forum function to help customers find specific recommendations and advice. This digital travel community allows travelers to ask and answer questions, discuss experiences, leave reviews, and provide tips.

Possible drawbacks

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.

The Competition

Booking.com
Travelocity
KAYAK
Airbnb
Our review
Our review
Owned by
Priceline
Expedia
Priceline
Airbnb
App store rating
Apple App Store: 4.8/5
Google Play: 4.7/5
Apple App Store: 4.8/5
Google Play: 4.1/5
Apple App Store: 4.8/5
Google Play: 4.5/5
Apple App Store: 4.8/5
Google Play: 4.5/5
Flight booking
Rental car
Cruise booking
Activity booking
Flexible dates

Booking.com vs. Travelocity

Travelocity provides a unique activity booking feature that you won’t find with many 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.

Booking.com vs. Airbnb

Booking.com and Airbnb are chief competitors, both offering some of the most alternative accommodations in the travel site industry. Airbnb won’t link to airfare, car rentals, or cruise booking; however, along with unique lodging, it offers geo-specific activities and experiences. While Booking.com is still a better bet if you’re looking for more help managing your itinerary and overall travel logistics, Airbnb is the place to book if you’re looking to combine unique lodging with destination-specific activities.

Booking.com FAQ

Does Priceline own Booking.com?

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.

How is Booking.com keeping up with the times?

Booking.com says that its alternative accommodations accounted for more than 20% of its revenue and brought in $2.8 billion in 2018, and it’s only going to continue investing in this business model. As the demand for alternative accommodations rises, CEO Glenn Fogel says that the company plans on using an artificial intelligence-driven messaging platform and natural language processing to help meet the parallel communication needs of the site.

The Bottom Line

While you won’t find cars, cruises, or activities with Booking.com, you will find the cheapest airfare and a variety of lodging options, as well as a travel community to help you plan your experience even more easily. If you have a simple vacation in mind and want to take advantage of low prices, Booking.com could be the best travel site for you.

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