From booking last minute to checking for hidden costs, here's how to make the most of Booking.com
If you’re going away and looking for a place to stay, there’s a good chance that a quick scan of Booking.com will be high on your list of priorities. Simply enter your destination, dates and party details, and you’ll find a sweet deal on all manner of properties, from Bajan beach houses to Chamonix chalets. It’s that easy, right?
Wrong. What you might not know is that there are all manner of tips and tricks you can use to bag an even better bargain than you first thought. These won’t only save you money but, if you’re lucky, could even land you an upgraded room for the night.
So, read on to discover how to get the most out of Booking.com, and become a truly victorious vacationer.
How to find a deal on Booking.com
1. Browse Booking.com’s dedicated deals page
OK, so this one’s pretty obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. Head over to the Booking.com homepage, and somewhere near the top you should be able to find a link to the website’s very own dedicated deals page.
Naturally, you can expect to find more offers in the off-season than at the height of summer. For instance, at the time of writing Booking.com is offering a range of ‘Festive Deals’ that run until 31 March. These include places to bed down in Bangkok, Istanbul and Rome from £10, £13 and £26 per night respectively. Not bad, eh? Click the link above to find these deals and more at Booking.com.
2. Subscribe to see the ‘Secret Deals’ page
Not far below the dedicated deals page, you’ll find a box encouraging you to sign up to see Booking.com’s ‘Secret Deals’. Simply enter your email address in the required field and – boom – you’ll have access to a whole range of deals that the browsing general public can only dream of.
Naturally, the one caveat here is that this will result in you being subscribed to Booking.com’s newsletter, but simply redirect those emails to your junk folder and you’re in the clear.
There are two other methods you can use to secure Secret Deal viewing privileges. The first is to create a profile on Booking.com (which is definitely worth your time if you’re a frequent user – more on that below), and the second is to install any of the company’s apps on your smartphone or tablet.
3. Become a Booking.com genius
So, why would creating a profile on Booking.com be worth your time? Well, simply put, it means you can achieve ‘genius’ status on Booking.com by booking a stay through the site five times in two years, which shouldn’t be too difficult if you’re a frequent traveller. Just be sure to use the same profile every time you book. As a result, you’ll enjoy the following benefits:
- 10% discount on all bookings
- Two-hours earlier/later check-in and check-out
- Discounted airport shuttles
- A dedicated telephone support line for members with genius status
Of course, you’re already a genius for coming to Expert Reviews to receive flawless financial advice, but this would really confirm it.
4. Book last minute
Admittedly this isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking to whisk your partner and five children away, like the McAllisters in Home Alone, you’ll probably need to plan ahead. However, if you’re travelling solo, and/or your circumstances allow you to book at the very last moment, then be sure to take advantage of it. Hoteliers are almost always offering up to 70% off regular prices when trying to fill their rooms at the very last minute.
You can use this tactic to your advantage in one of two ways: either save bundles of cash, or upgrade to a slightly fancier place than you might be used to. The choice is yours.
5. Use discount codes
Finding Booking.com discount codes is a relatively straightforward process. Just Google “Booking.com discount codes” or similar and, more often than not, you should be presented with a whole host of sites offering money off rooms and apartments listed on the website. It’s definitely worth spending some time shopping around to find the best discount.
For instance, at the time of writing Expert Reviews is advertising a discount code which will get you 50% off accommodation in Dubrovnik, when it’s applied at checkout. Anyone up for joining me on an impromptu Balkan jaunt?
6. Use filters wisely
This might seem obvious, but there’s certainly an art to benefitting from Booking.com’s filter system.
For example, if you’re willing to stay a bit further out to find yourself a nice place, you can use the map tool to track down lesser-visited parts of town that you might not have spotted before – and secure yourself a healthy bargain in the process.
Alternatively, if you’re not bothered about included breakfasts, free cancellation, pool access and the like, you can uncheck these boxes to help you land a better value room that suits your personal needs.
There’s even a dedicated deals button that helps you to find special discounts on properties that fall within the dates and location you’ve selected. Give it a go yourself – you might be surprised at what you can find.
7. Check for hidden costs and be wary of misleading sales tactics
Last but not least, here’s an evergreen piece of advice: make sure you’re checking for any hidden costs.
If you’re not careful, you’ll be drawn in by a low headline price, then be hit with all manner of add-ons and charges. Do you really need to pay over the odds for central heating in Tuscany in August? Or for outdoor pool access in Scotland in midwinter? We think not. Be sure to check for costs like these before confirming your booking, or risk being royally ripped off.
Similarly, you should always be sure to keep an eye out for misleading sales practices. A 2019 report by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that sites like Booking.com often accept money from hotels in return for appearing higher in your search results. Some sites also place sold-out hotels in search results to put pressure on people to book more quickly, as well as stating that other customers are looking at the same hotel, even if they’re searching for different dates.
Tactics like these aren’t always guaranteed to end up with you being ripped off, but just be sure to assess all your options thoroughly, and don’t dive into spending money on a room before you know all the facts.
So, there you have it – you’re officially ready to become a veritable travel champ (well, at least you are when it comes to using Booking.com).