With 50+ reservations just in 2019, Booking.com is my number one choice when it comes to securing accommodations across Europe. That’s not to say it’s a perfect system. I have numerous issues with the website, but based on the number of stays last year, I tend to have a more positive than negative experience with the platform.
What I Love About Booking.com
Consistent Experience: While most accommodations have their own official website, they tend to be a terrible user experience across the board. With Booking.com, I know what to expect, the system already has my personal info, and all my upcoming reservations are located in one place.
Excellent Rating System: There’s a robust rating system on Booking.com which I rely on to find the best spots. Over the years, I’ve learned that a 9.0 rating will be excellent, 8-9 tends to be reliable, and anything under 8 is usually hot garbage. I always set the filter to “8+” when I’m searching for accommodation and am rarely disappointed.
Travel Tip! If you do find a contender for your lodging budget, take some time read through the reviews. Even a 9.2 might have come under new management, and you’ll see the complaints in real time.
Fabrika Hostel in Tbilisi, Georgia
What I Like About Booking.com
Clear Pricing: I rarely run into hidden fees with Booking.com, and the prices in your search are accurate prices including the total cost of your stay. Booking.com is very clear how much your trip will cost, unlike Airbnb which gives wildly misleading prices.
Huge Inventory: I have yet to search a city, town, or village in Europe that Booking.com didn’t cover. Not only have I booked hotels and apartments, I’ve used the platform for hostel stays and campgrounds. There’s almost something within my budget and search parameters.
Apartments: When it comes to flats, studios, and homes, there’s a high overlap between Airbnb and Booking.com. Because Booking offers clearer pricing and a far better filtering/sorting experience, I usually end up using it over Airbnb.
Cancellations: Some of the reservations on Booking.com offer various cancellation policies that are clearly marked. And when you cancel, it’s easy enough by just logging into your account and pushing a button. I’ve used this feature a number of times and have yet to run into an issue with it.
Travel Tip! Even if you’re dead set on the plans for your trip, set an alarm for the cancellation date. You never know when your travel plans may suddenly change.
Kimpton Hotel Palomar in Phoenix, Arizona
What I hate About Booking.com
Can’t Save Filters: Unless something dramatically changes in my life, I will never be able to afford anything higher than $54 per night (Booking.com’s arbitrary cutoff for the cheapest room), and yet I have to select this every single time along with the rating along with my four other standard defaults. This resets every time you change location and is tiring, especially when the default search includes rooms that are unavailable.
Privacy: Booking.com drops an average of 40+ tracking cookies when I’m using the site. That doesn’t include the dozens of other ones that are loaded up from third party-servers. Walking onto their site without a browser privacy extension is like walking into a dairy barn without wearing any boots.
So. Many. Notifications: Along with all that tracking is Booking.com’s barrage of annoying pop-ups, review begging, and endless emails, so your first stop after blocking all their cookies should be to turn off all notifications other than the ones you absolutely need.
Customer Service: The one time I had an issue, Booking.com failed to resolve it to the point where I had to open a credit card dispute over the stay. I won the case, but it reinforces that almost any situation online where you use a meta search aggregator like Booking.com or Airbnb, you’re going to find the customer service will heavily favor the host over the customer.
Travel Tip! With hotels, it is worth your time to check out their official website. You can find better rates, special promos, and more favorable cancellation policies. And they will always have better customer service than a meta aggregator.
CityHub in Rotterdam, Netherlands
The final say on Booking.com
This website is one of the most useful tools in my travel arsenal boasting a massive international inventory of hotels, hostels, apartments, and campgrounds. While there are a few downsides to using the website, you should find it one of the easiest ways to book rooms in Europe.