Hotels.com Hotels.com
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2 5stars

Hotels.com Review

Book Now with Hotels.com
Rating:
Bottom Line:
Simplistic approach to booking hotel reservations; highly specific search filters are a singular bright spot in an otherwise frustrating booking process

Full Review:
Just as the name suggests, Hotels.com focuses mainly on hotel reservations, although it does offer the ability to book a flight as part of a package with your lodging. Its search filters are very specific, making them extremely helpful for finding the perfect hotel. However, the booking process itself is confusing and vague enough to deter inexperienced travelers.


Getting Started

Hotels.com features a somewhat outdated interface. Tabs at the top of the page include: Hotels, Hotel Deals, Packages and Flights, Groups, Hotels.com Rewards, Gift Cards and Customer Service. Travelers can search for hotels upfront by entering their destination or preferred hotel along with their check-in and checkout dates. Users can also specify what type of hotel room they will need in terms of number of beds, bed size and other amenities. The majority of the site is pretty straightforward, except for the Packages and Flights tab. At first glance, a user might assume that booking with this option is similar to bundle deals that are available on other travel sites, but upon closer inspection, the process is rather confusing on Hotels.com. We also noticed that most tabs ended up leading to redirected pages or pop-ups, which was annoying as it got in the way of our booking process.



Search Filters and Other Features

The search filters available on Hotels.com might seem pretty basic at first glance, but they are actually rather detailed. Travelers can choose to primarily sort by Hotels.com favorites, proximity to a particular landmark, star rating, guest rating or price. Once you’ve selected your general details, the site will allow you to add a few more filters in to help narrow down your choices. Users can filter by a specific star rating (e.g. 3-star hotel), guest rating (0 to 5 stars), payment preference, Hotels.com Rewards eligible hotels, neighborhood, landmarks, accommodation type, amenities, theme and accessibility features. Seeing as the service is geared more toward hotel bookings than anything else, we were happy to see it offer so many filter options. One feature we found that’s completely unique to Hotels.com is the Gift Card tab. Users who explore this feature will find that it redirects to another page featuring options to send an electronic gift card or mail a physical gift card to any recipient. Those who have received a gift card to Hotels.com can also visit this page to check the balance on their card or redeem its value.


Price Competitiveness and Packages

We tested two potential trips, one domestic and one international, for different booking times: six months in advance, six weeks in advance and a trip that would theoretically be booked last minute. Normally, when reviewing travel sites, we have compared three different trips, two domestic and one international. Since we were unable to get an accurate price estimate for flights through Hotels.com, we could not compare the prices between two different domestic trips. As a result, we only tested one of each, domestic and international. For each of the tests we looked at the prices for the same hotel — that way we could accurately compare the prices and spot any changes. While we did test the process of booking a bundle (flight and hotel) this process was difficult to review because Hotels.com lumped both the hotel and flight prices together into one grand total. This was rather confusing as we weren’t able to view multiple flights and their prices all at once, but instead were given package options without clarification or a breakdown of flight versus hotel costs. As such, we weren't able to successfully compare the pricing for flight and hotel packages.

Booking a flight and hotel package was, as we mentioned, a bit confusing. We started by entering our destination, New York City, into the Packages and Flights tab's search bar. The site pulled up an offer for the Holiday Inn and a flight for a total of $1,244 per person. Once we selected this option, we were given two different types of rooms to choose from, one with a king-sized bed and the other with two queens. Next, we were given a small selection of flights from just four airlines. There is no way to filter your search for flights, but you can sort your options by departure time, arrival time and number of stops. The selection process was somewhat confusing as there were no actual prices listed. Instead, it displayed options for flights, the prices of which wouldn’t cost any extra fees outside of the bundle price, and flights which had an added fee. Again, there was no clarification as to what the added fees were for or what the actual price of the flight was in relation to the overall package price. This was frustrating to understand and work around. Also, because we were never given the actual price breakdown for the flights themselves, it was not possible to compare the flight prices with those on other sites.

In the same vein, we were not able to compare the prices on international hotel reservations as the properties available to book differed from those we found on other travel sites.

Booking six months in advance

The first trips we tested were about six months in advance. On average, the hotels we tested produced low rates, but they certainly were not the lowest we found across the board. When we went to book a hotel in New York six months in advance on Hotels.com, the room was offered to us at a rate of $167 per night, slightly higher the average price on other travel sites.



Booking six weeks in advance

Our next search tested trips being booked six weeks in advance, and the prices we were presented with were fairly low. The hotel we booked in New York, the Comfort Inn, gave us a decent rate of $150 per night. This wasn’t a particularly low price, but it was slightly less than some of the other services we reviewed.

Booking last minute

Finally, we tested a trip that would theoretically be booked last minute. For our purposes, we defined "last-minute" as one week before the day of departure. Booking a hotel at the last minute is generally advisable, as hotels often lower their rates in order to avoid having empty rooms. Hotels.com was the unfortunate exception to that rule. When we tested a last-minute booking at the Comfort Inn in New York, we were offered a shockingly high quote of $175 per night. Most other sites we tested offered the same hotel reservation for as much as $100 less.


Booking Process

The hotel booking process on Hotels.com is very straightforward. Users will enter their travel dates, select their preferences using the available search filters and choose a hotel from the search results. From there, they are given a general overview of the property they have selected. If the hotel fits the traveler’s needs, they can continue on to the actual booking process. One aspect of this service that we appreciated was the option to pay upfront or to pay at the hotel upon arrival. Those who choose to book upfront can also opt to participate in the Hotels.com Rewards program or use any gift card credit they may have.


Rewards Program

The rewards program offered through Hotels.com is extremely simple. The site has 235,000 eligible hotels around the world, including major hotel chains, boutique hotels and resorts. Once a Rewards member has stayed 10 nights at any of the eligible hotels, they earn one free night’s stay. The great part of this program is that there are no restrictions on which hotel users can redeem their free stay at. As long as the hotel is eligible for booking through Hotels.com, users have their pick.

One of the newer features available through the Hotels.com Rewards program is the ability for members to unlock secret prices on hotels as they book them. Members will have access to lower rates that aren’t available to everyone and that apply to select hotels in popular destinations. Registration only takes a few minutes and requires very basic personal information.



For those who travel often, there are two higher levels above the basic rewards program. Silver members will have access to priority customer service on a dedicated phone line and early access to special offers. To qualify as a Silver member at Hotels.com, you need to stay at hotels booked through the site 10 nights or more during one membership year.

The next and highest level of the Hotels.com Rewards program is Gold. To qualify as a Gold Rewards member, you’ll need to stay at least 30 nights in one membership year. Once you’ve reached that point, you’ll have access to a dedicated phone line, early access to exclusive deals and what it refers to as a “hassle-free travel guarantee.” This essentially means that if there is a problem during your stay, the service will help make new travel plans right away, being sure to minimize cancellation fees or other extraneous charges.


Customer Service

Hotel.com's Customer Support tab is very basic, giving you options to view Your Bookings, Help, Website Feedback and Review a Hotel. As you may have guessed, Your Bookings is an itinerary of your upcoming and recent trips. The Help section is a list of answers to frequently asked questions regarding rewards, bookings, settings, package and flight booking and your experience with the site. Website Feedback and Review a Hotel are fairly self-explanatory in what they offer.

In terms of reaching out to speak with a customer service representative from Hotels.com, there is a phone line that is available 24/7. When we called, we were placed on hold for quite a while, so it was disappointing that there was no option to email or instant message a representative for assistance.


Conclusion

Hotels.com is a bit lackluster in comparison to the other travel and booking sites that we reviewed. The site is tough to navigate, especially for those who attempt to book a hotel and flight package deal. While some of its prices were lower than what we found on other sites, we were overall unimpressed by the options that we were offered for both domestic and international hotel bookings.

Book Now with Hotels.com | Compare to Other Travel Sites

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Service Details

Available to Book:Hotels, vacation packages and activities
Best for:Travelers needing last-minute hotel reservations
Competitive Pricing*:
Loyalty Program:Yes
Search Filters:
Mobile App:iPhone, Android, Windows

*These ratings are based on the prices we received when testing both domestic and international trips (see Price Competitiveness and Packages section of the review for more details)

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