New Hotel & Hostel Booking Site Looks to Change Search Habits

Flight and hotel booking sites are a dime a dozen. Let’s face it. There are many affiliate programs out there that allow these companies to start a website and search various prices for their visitors. Typically their prices aren’t better than any of the major travel booking sites (Kayak, Expedia, Travelocity, etc) and often actually charge a small fee which makes me wonder why anybody would bother with these no-name sites.

So while there are no shortage of websites to find flights or hotels, searching for hostels has been more time consuming for me than I would prefer. Most times I’ve used HostelWorld to search for hostels based on location, price, availability, and most importantly, customer reviews. Most, but not all hostels are listed on HostelWorld. Others are listed on smaller sites like Hostelz or aren’t listed at all. Sometimes these small establishments find it too expensive to pay commissions to booking sites.

Looking for something a little more mid-range like a bed & breakfast or small guesthouse/inn can also be difficult. You usually don’t find small, independently run businesses on the larger booking sites and Hostel sites aren’t the same niche. I’ve found TripAdvisor to include many B&B’s but I’ve questioned their reviews since several hotels and tour companies have specifically asked me to post positive reviews on several occasions.

For flights, I’ve been a huge fan of Kayak for a while. They search most major airline’s websites and all of the major booking companies as well. It’s a simple, clean interface and does a great job of finding the best prices.
It wasn’t until last week that I found something that piqued my interest as much for searching for hotels though. Somebody recommended I check out HotelsCombined. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised after running my first search for Budapest. Over 300 results were presented in a clean and easy to use interface. By default the results are sorted by popularity based upon user reviews but can be sorted by price, quality (stars), distance or even the neighborhood.

What I really like about HotelsCombined is that they don’t simply list hotels, but also B&B’s, guesthouses, and even hostels. I can’t say that there aren’t any other sites that like it, but from what I’ve been able to find, it’s very unique.

One reason I continue to check multiple sites for hostels (or whatever else I am booking) is to see the various reviews that customers leave. Sometimes you don’t have much of a selection, but in places like Budapest there are an unbelievable amount of hostels and reading reviews helps you decide on which one(s) stand out. That’s what, to me, is the best part about HotelsCombined as they also aggregate the various reviews from all the sites they search. It saves quite a bit of time if you’re like me and really like to check out reviews.

If you use HotelsCombined and decide to book a room with their service you’ll be forwarded directly to the hotel or booking agent’s website to book without any additional fees. I’ve never understood why some of the major sites felt the need to charge booking fees when they also received commissions.

Give them a look and let me know what you think. It looks to be a good service and I’ll definitely be checking out accommodations through them. It may still take a while for me to break my habit of checking five or six different sites though.

Why You Should Travel RIGHT NOW in this Bad Economy

ANA B777 (y)Class

We all know that the economy sucks right now.  Our financial system is in shambles and many of us are losing our jobs and can’t pay mortgages.

The times are tough.

Unless you are a traveler.  If you aren’t being affected too much by the current economic situation, you might want to check out some travel deals that are being offered.

I’ve never been one to book a package deal with air and hotel bundled together, but if you’re traveling with somebody there have been quite a few good deals but they require a two-person minimum purchase.  Often that makes it not such a good deal when you factor in the hotel cost so be sure to pay attention to that.

But for the traveler who is just looking for great airfare deals, there are plenty at the moment.  Here are a few I’ve found recently (all prices include taxes and fees):

  • Los Angeles to Honolulu – $335 round trip on Hawaiian Air.  American Airlines, United and Delta are just slightly higher.
  • Los Angeles to Maui – $415 round trip on American Airlines.
  • Los Angeles to Sydney or Brisbane, Australia – $680 round trip all the way through October on United.
  • Los Angeles to Paris – $590 round trip on United or Air France (I really like Air France!) through May.
  • Los Angeles to San Jose, Costa Rica – $350-$450 round trip all summer long.

I’m sure there are plenty of similar fares from most major airports.  I highly recommend Kayak to search for flights.

Find any good deals out there? Where are you off to next? Share in the comments!

If you like this article please consider subscribing to our RSS or Email feed or following us on Twitter.