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Save on Hotel Bookings for Europe

Let me share some information and tips on saving on European hotels that you may not know. Hotels can be categorized and priced as economy, mid-scale or budget, premium, and luxury. Consider that when looking at hotels in Europe.

Europe Hotels Booking Sites 

Many different types of hotel booking sites exist and offer the same hotels and rooms for the same dates at the same or different availability and prices. Different booking sites can show different numbers of room availability and prices due to the allocation each may receive from a hotel. A hotel’s total room availability may only be visible on its website or to its reservation agents.

There are 4 primary types of online hotel booking sites you need to know about:

Online Travel Agencies

Their strength is offering you a variety of hotels per location at different prices. Many of these are owned by a parent company; see the reference material at the bottom of this blog.

  • Sometimes, one site won’t have availability, and another will not.

  • See if taxes and hotel fees are included, and add them if not.

  • Many hotels do not offer hotel membership program points due to discounted rates..

Airline Sites

Airline sites could offer hotels and cars for your destinations. If you have airline points, you can use them to book flights and hotels;

  • Some airlines use Online Travel Agencies to make their bookings. Other airlines make their bookings directly.

  • Airlines could offer package or vacation deals for flights, hotel, and car rentals.

  • You can accumulate airline frequent flyer points for your bookings.

Credit Card Travel Site

Some credit card companies offer online travel booking services. The hotel booking service may be their own, or they may use an Online Travel Agency (see above). Within a credit card, there may be different levels of card membership (and annual fee), and the travel services offered can differ by card membership level. If you have credit card points, you can use them to book flights and hotels.

  • Higher-level credit card membership levels may offer special pricing, free early check-in or late check-out, free hotel breakfast vouchers, or a hotel gift certificate.

  • Some credit card travel sites may combine your flight, hotel, and car rental as an offered vacation package.

  • You can accumulate credit card points for your charges.  

Booking Directly With A Hotel

Almost all hotels have their website for information, availability, and booking. Many hotels belong to major chains or affiliated hotel groups. Many of these chains are owned by a parent company; see the reference material at the bottom of this blog.

  • Hotel sites may offer special deals and rates that the other sites above do not offer.

  • Hotel sites may show availability that the other sites above do not.  

  • You can usually accumulate hotel loyalty points for your charges.

Comparing Hotel Prices 

Comparing hotel cost quotes from the above can be time-consuming and sometimes frustrating if you don’t do this very often. This is where a travel agent or travel advisor is useful to do this for you quickly. Here are some points to consider if you are doing this yourself.

Normalize Price Quotes

Some sites show you a cheaper rate because they omit taxes and fees, and other sites include them.

  • Europe VAT tax can be 21%, local taxes, plus any hotel daily fee.

  • Ensure you are comparing prices using a common costs basis.

  • If your booking source includes free services, be sure to include that in your cost considerations, like free breakfast, which can be 30 Euros per person.

Dates Flexibility

Changing your desired date range or number of days can result in different or lower total cost quotes.

  • Hotel rates vary on each date due to demand and season.  

  • If traveling to multiple cities, rearranging the dates for each city could result in lower overall costs.

  • Look at the hotel’s website; they may have lower rates for weekends and holidays.

Reference Material

Online Travel Agencies

Expedia Group is the owner of 10 hotel booking sites.

  • Expedia (combines location bookings with advice on what to do)

  • Hotels (independent and chain hotels)

  • Vrbo (vacation rentals by owners)

  • Travelocity (combines location bookings with advice on what to do)

  • Hotwire (deep discounts, location maps, and price change alerts)

  • Orbitz (safe and inclusive travel)

  • Ebookers (7 European countries and agents on telephone support)

  • CheapTickets (cheap bookings, student-oriented, event ticketing)

  • Wotif (Australian based and focused)

  • Trivago (search tool across 100’s of travel sites)

Booking Holdings owns 5 hotel booking sites and manages 2 other sites. They also own OpenTable for restaurant bookings.

  • Kayak (metasearch across hundreds of sites for comparisons)  

  • Booking (Europe focus and global)

  • HotelsCombined (search across online travel agencies and hotel reservation systems)

  • Agoda (Asia focus and global)

  • Priceline (name your price bidding system)

  • Momondo (travel research site managed by Kayak)

  • Cheapflights (search site managed by Kayak)

TripAdvisor is the owner of a travel advisor site that includes hotel and home booking sites, as well as cruises (Cruise Critic), tours (Viator), and restaurants (TheFork).

Airline Alliances

Airlines may belong to an Alliance where each airline can share bookings on each other’s flights and may use a common reservation system for flights and hotel bookings. Three major alliances are Star Alliance, Skyteam, and Oneworld.


Hotel Parent Companies

Major hotel chains like Hilton Hotels have all their owned and managed hotels on their main website. Other hotels and chains might be owned or managed under a parent company like ACCOR which has 38 hotel chains under separate names (see below).

A list of ACCOR hotel chains

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Want to read blogs in this series? Check out the blogs in our Travel to Europe section.


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