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12th Nov 18

Top apps

Hotel booking sites: Which is tops?

12th Nov 18

Chana Boucher
By Chana Boucher21 Followers

Airbnb, Booking.com or Trivago – which travel site should you use? We look at these popular accommodation booking sites to see which offers the best deal, variety and experience.

More and more travellers are taking their holiday planning into their own hands. When it comes to where you’ll stay, Airbnb, Booking.com and Trivago are three of the major players all promising the best deals and convenience. Here’s what each offers:

Airbnb

In 2007, two roommates who couldn’t afford the rent for their San Francisco apartment put an air mattress in their living room and turned their place into a bed and breakfast to make some extra cash. Now, Airbnb features more than five million places to stay in more than 81 000 cities and 191 countries. While you can choose to have an apartment all your own, many Airbnb spots are rooms in other people's homes - or even a comfy couch in their lounge! 

The pros

  • It’s usually the most affordable. Many options include rooms in prime locations, so you are sure to find some cheap options on Airbnb.
  • You mix with locals. Because you are often staying with someone who calls your travel destination home, you have access to insider info.
  • Free facilities. You’re likely to stay in a fully equipped home so you’ll have access to the kitchen and laundry.
  • Unique experiences. Tap into Airbnb’s Experiences for authentic ways to discover your destination.

The cons

  • It’s not all smooth sailing. Since these aren’t always professionally run outlets, check-in times might not be standard and some facilities might not work correctly.
  • The space may not be your own. In many Airbnb spots, you’re a house guest so you have to share the space with the owners.
  • There’s some risk involved. There have been horror stories about Airbnb in the media.

The results

A search for a two-night stay in Umhlanga for two adults from 16-18 December returns 28 results, the cheapest being R827 for a private room in an apartment. After booking you have 48 hours to cancel for free or receive a 50% refund (minus the service fee) for cancelling a week before your arrival date. Cancellation policies vary between properties, though. 

Booking.com

What was a small Dutch start-up in 1996 has grown to become one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world, connecting travellers with accommodation ranging from apartments to five-star luxury resorts. It covers 143 170 destinations in 230 countries.

The pros

  • Advance payment not always needed. Many of the options don’t require upfront payment, giving you the option to change your travel plans without losing money.
  • Get a good deal. Booking.com often runs specials on certain properties, particularly if you are booking far in advance or travelling during off-peak periods.
  • All the admin is taken care of. Once you’ve booked, Booking.com will send you all the relevant information.
  • There is 24/7 assistance and support in more than 40 languages.

The cons

  • When you stay in a hotel, you don’t get that authentic, local interaction that you could get from an Airbnb.
  • The cheaper it is, the further away you’ll be. The most affordable options are usually outside of the action.

The results

The same search returns 38 results, the cheapest being R2 000 for a standard queen room with a private bathroom at a B&B. Cancellation for this property is free up until 1 December and there are no booking or credit card fees.

Trivago

Trivago is a price comparison site that gives you access to more than 2.5 million accommodation options in 190 countries. It compares and displays different offers from various booking sites and receives a fee from the establishment should you click on their deal.

The pros

  • So many options. Trivago searches many other booking sites and gives you the results so you can choose the one that suits you.
  • Covering all bases. You have access to listings on more than 200 booking sites.
  • Discounts only. You can choose to only show top deals, where only hotels with big markdowns are included.

The cons

  • No responsibility. Trivago merely compares prices - don’t expect assistance should something go wrong.
  • Pay elsewhere. The booking isn’t handled by Trivago, so you will be directed to another booking site (which you may or may not be familiar with) to pay.
  • Not always the best price. Booking sites have to choose to advertise their deals with Trivago, so you’re not guaranteed that it will always be the cheapest out there (though it could be!).

The results

The search returned 30 results, the cheapest being R1 034 at a hotel, with breakfast included.

More ways to plan your holiday 

Be your own travel agent and travel guide with awesome online tools. Here are some great tips on using your phone to help your holiday run more smoothly. These apps work offline, saving your data when navigating or entertaining yourself abroad. Don't be the victim of scams and fraud when on holiday - read these ways to tighten up your cybersecurity.

Stay connected with a brand-new cellphone while you're enjoying your downtime. Check out the deals on Vodacom Online and get your device delivered to you for free! Then, check your roaming options and stay connected overseas without busting your budget. 

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