8 Hotel Booking Tips to Ensure You Get the Best Value When Booking Hotels Online

**This post may contain affiliate links. I may be compensated if you use them.

Do you struggle when deciding which property to pick when booking hotels online? It can be tricky, considering how many hotel or accommodation options most cities have. There are so many factors to consider that it can often be overwhelming, especially if you are travelling somewhere you are unfamiliar with.

Well, in this blog post I’m going to help try to take away some of that stress by sharing some top hotel booking tips to keep in mind for your next vacation. If you take these tips into consideration, you’ll end up getting the best value for your money when booking hotels online.

Location is Key

Choosing a location on where to stay during your travels can be really tricky. More central hotels often cost more, however, you don’t really want to spend all your time travelling either. What you save on the property you may end up spending on transit. Not to mention, going back and forth to a city takes up a lot of your precious travel time.

While you don’t need to be in the middle of the action, I suggest doing some research before you book about the location you choose. Check the distance between the hotel and the attractions you want to see, and look to make sure there is a public transit station nearby.

Determine if ‘free’ Breakfast is Worth it

Free breakfast is often one of those things that everyone looks for. After all, some hotels can charge a hefty $25+ for a continental buffet! Included breakfast can be a good deal…if you’re a breakfast person. Some people just aren’t. Maybe because they like to sleep in, or maybe they just don’t like eating early. But, while everyone says that breakfast is the best meal of the day, it’s not for everyone. If you aren’t a breakfast person, don’t let the ‘free breakfast’ lure you in. You can probably find cheaper options (maybe even at the same hotel) with it not included.

On the other hand, if you are a breakfast person then free breakfast can absolutely be a deal. As I said above, some hotels charge ridiculous rates for the breakfast offerings so if you can get a free one, take advantage!        

Reviews are Important

Reviews are important, and it’s always a good idea to take the time to read a few so you can get an idea of what the property is actually like. Now, remember, people are more likely to leave a bad review than a good one, and many of these you need to talk with a grain of salt. An unfriendly receptionist isn’t ideal, but it’s not going to ruin your entire stay. Things you’ll want to keep an eye out for are notes about the area, for example, does anyone say it felt unsafe? Reviews about cleanliness are also key to watch for, as well as noise level. Also, keep an eye out for repeating reviews (does only one review mention that there was no water pressure in the shower? Or do a dozen reviews comment on the same thing?) as well as the time of the review; was the review from last week? Or two years ago?

Use Booking.com

I highly recommend using booking.com to book your stays. This booking platform has thousands of accommodation options ranging from hostels to luxury resorts in cities around the world. Plus, the more you book with booking.com, the more you save once you become a genius member.

What is a Genius Member? It’s a free program with booking.com. All you have to do is create an account and book 2 stays through the platform over a period of 2 years. Once you do this, you are in and eligible to save 10% on select properties.

If you book 5 stays within two years, you’ll upgrade to Genius Level 2 which means you can save up to 15% on select properties and, depending on the property, qualify for room upgrades and free breakfast.

Since booking.com often has some of the best hotel prices anyways, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of their loyalty program and save even more?

Check the Cancellation Policy

Hopefully, you don’t have to cancel your hotel, but you never know. Something might come up. Perhaps a flight is cancelled, maybe someone at home falls ill and you need to cancel your entire vacation, or maybe you just change your mind on the property you book. Anything can happen, which is why I like to choose properties that have a cancellation option up to a few days (or even 24 hours) before your stay.

Don’t Forget about the Amenities

Another thing to keep your eye out for is the amenities. For example, are toiletries included? If you are picky about your shampoo or body wash, then that may not matter to you. However, if you are travelling short term then knowing that you don’t need to pack those things might be a big perk. Especially if you are travelling carry-on only. Other things you may want to look out for include hotel or gym access or an on-site restaurant or bar.

Think about Getting to/from the Airport

If you are travelling by air, don’t forget to take into consideration how you are getting to/from the airport, especially with all of your luggage. Some airports offer airport transfers, either paid or free, which is a great option. Others will offer to book a driver or a taxi for you to save the hassle of having to deal with finding one once you land. However, if you are on a budget you’ll want to find somewhere you can get to relatively easily by public transit without having to worry about switching buses or metro lines too many times. That’s always extra stressful when you have your luggage with you!

Use a credit card that gives you points

Many of the best travel credit cards in Canada give you points that you can use later to redeem later for flights, hotels or any travel expense. Since hotels are usually one of your largest travel expenses, this is an easy way to earn points fast. Alternatively, you could consider using one of the best credit cards with travel insurance as they may include hotel/motel burglary insurance which you’ll hopefully never have to use.

Final thoughts

Getting a good price on a hotel is great, but you want to make sure that you get good value for your money as well, no matter what the price. Make sure to keep these hotel booking tips in mind the next time you’re booking hotels online. Also, be sure to know the tricks on how to cancel a non-refundable hotel reservation.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi


  1. Christine McCaffrey on January 6, 2020 at 11:37 AM

    How does hotels.com compare to booking.com?

    • Barry Choi on January 6, 2020 at 11:46 AM


      They’re similar. It probably comes down to personal preference.

  2. Ross Cowan on January 9, 2020 at 7:20 PM

    Doesn’t Trivago.com cover off all the hotel rate comparison’s, although I get your preference for Booking.com regarding reaching their Genius level perks?
    I’ve mainly used Booking.com or Expedia.com (who has a points program, maybe not as good as Booking’s) after searching through Trivago’s web site, Also occasionally used Hotels.com.What about Priceline.com?

    • Barry Choi on January 9, 2020 at 7:26 PM


      Quite often it’s a personal preference. I like Booking.com for the different options and genius perks. I haven’t used Priceline in years.

  3. Ethan on January 9, 2020 at 8:16 PM

    I agree with using a site like booking or hotels.com or trivago. However, if you decide to stay at a hotel chain (e.g Marriott, Hilton) I would recommend booking directly through the hotel. If the rate is better on one of the travel sites, the hotels will match or sometimes give a better rate if you mention the price to them. Most hotels lose a percentage of the sale to those sites when you book on them, and prefer to have them book directly with them.

    • Barry Choi on January 9, 2020 at 8:18 PM


      Yes, with big chain hotels, it’s often worth it to go direct. Another benefit of going direct is that your loyalty status is recognized.

  4. Peter Arnold on January 9, 2020 at 8:28 PM

    As retirees who travel a ,ot and stay in hotels up to 150 nights per year, we generally use Hotels.com. We like the features that award us a free stay after ten nights completed (not stays), and the ability to claim a lower rate if the price decreases after we have booked and paid. We also prefer to pay at time of booking so that we pay in Canadian dollars rather than be surprised with the exchange rate at the hotel location.
    Having said that, Booking.com does seem to have a better selection of rooms available in Europe, particularly the eastern European countries.

  5. Chad Holst on January 13, 2020 at 11:29 AM

    I may use booking sites to check rates and such but I’ll always call the hotel directly and usually book through them. Booking sites work great if everything goes as planned, but as soon as you need to make changes or something comes up the hotels can’t help you directly if you booked through a 3rd party site as the hotel doesn’t even have access to that booking.

  6. Faizan on April 18, 2020 at 1:04 PM

    Thanks admin for sharing this informative post.

  7. Jesse Ford on May 1, 2020 at 1:19 PM

    I like how you mentioned ensuring that the hotel you want to stay in is near attractions you want to visit while having public transportation nearby. My wife and I are thinking of looking for hotels to stay in because we’re considering traveling somewhere we’ve never been to celebrate our twentieth anniversary. I think it’s a good idea for us to consider all our options to ensure we find a reputable place to lodge in while we’re on vacation.

  8. Zoe Campos on October 13, 2020 at 10:48 AM

    Thanks for reminding me to read a few reviews first before booking a hotel. My friend is having a beach wedding and I’m trying to find some oceanfront hotel accommodation where I can spend the night before. I’ll try to look for online reviews first and see if they have a lot of satisfied guests.

  9. Charlotte Fleet on May 5, 2022 at 7:47 PM

    My two brothers are taking my dad on a trip for his birthday, and they need to find the right hotel for their stay. It makes great sense to look for reviews on potential hotels about their cleanliness. I will make sure my brothers keep this in mind so they can find a clean and organized hotel to stay at.

Leave a Comment

Get a FREE copy of Travel Hacking for Lazy People

Subscribe now to get your FREE eBook and learn how to travel in luxury for less