Resources - Hotel Deals
Finding a hotel to book is certainly not hard: there are hundreds of hotel booking sites out there vying for your attention, all saying they offer you fantastic deals. None of them are tops every time though, so you have to shop around. Also, few of them are going to list small hotels and guesthouses with character--they love the big international chains. The big boys are not listed here (Orbitz, Expedia, etc.) because you know where to find them. Here are some other options.
Opaque Booking Sites
You give up some control, but Hotwire and Priceline can score you some amazing hotel deals if you do it right. It's not unusual to save 40% or more off what you see on the regular hotel sites. Check BiddingforTravel and BetterBidding to see what other people have paid for a hotel where you're going--and get an idea of which place you will likely end up at. Just be advised that inventory is mainly confined to North America and Europe.
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TravelFish has an extensive list of inexpensive hotels in Southeast Asia and Agoda usually has the best prices there. For Europe, start with EasytoBook.com hotels, which usually has a better selection than the U.S. sites. Or for real bargains you don't see elswhere go to EuroCHEAPO.
To compare results from a whole slew of sites at once (though again with limited international options), try one of the aggregators such as Kayak Trip.com, or Mobissimo.
If you just want to go lie on a beach somewhere or get a city hotel on the cheap in Rio, you can often bid low and win at SkyAuction. If you're feeling flush, try LuxuryLink for top-end properties at a discount.
For international budget options and hostels, check in with Hostelworld, HostelBookers.com, Hostelling International, Hostelz, or Hostels.com.
Also subscribe to newsletters that will alert you to last-minute deals. Try Smarter Travel
For bed and breakfasts, there are a zillion sites out there vying to be your portal to that world. We like the fact that BedandBreakfast.com sends out an e-mail alert of special discounts, but others are BnBFinder, BBExplorer, BBOnline, and IBBP.
For unusual hotels, the best choice is, well, Unusual Hotels of the World. Historic Hotels of Europe lists castles, manor houses, and the like. For detailed reviews of the best hotels in Mexico, Central America, and South America, see Luxury Latin America. For reviews of hotels in all budget ranges, see Hotel Scoop.
For international travel, the best option of all is to book part of it in advance and then figure the rest out as you go. You often find better deals on location and you'll know exactly what you are getting! The next best thing is to find a localized site where you can tell they really know what they are talking about. There you will often find small hotels and inns that can't afford to advertise internationally on the big booking engines. For more hotel hunting advice, see this article: "Finding International Hotels with Character."