crossing5oceans.com | Published October 31st, 2020 | Last Updated December 28th, 2020

Gold Hotel signage hanging from black wrought iron post

This is an honest review of my experience using booking.com for the past ten years of travel. I've relied on their website to book more than 70 hotel stays, and for good reason. From the website's navigation, the discounts and perks, to the customer service and rating system, I keep returning to booking.com time and again. Here are the reasons it's my go-to site.


1 - RATING AND REVIEW SCORES - Many sites list the rating and review scores from past travellers, and booking.com is no exception. The categories they grade on are breakfast, cleanliness, comfort, facilities, location, staff, value for money and wifi. Many travellers rely heavily on written reviews to hear honest feedback about a previous guests' experience; it is especially helpful when deciding between two or three hotel options.

Cancellation Policy

2 - THE OPTION TO CANCEL IF YOUR PLANS CHANGE - Having the ability to book a vacation many months in advance is advantageous for consummate planners. However, booking a trip so far ahead also means more time for situations to arise that could throw a wrench in your plans. With booking.com, most hotels can be cancelled up to a day before arrival without penalty. Be sure to check the column where the room price is located to see the cancellation policies for that particular hotel.


3 - NO CHARGE TO YOUR CREDIT CARD - In addition to being able to cancel up to a day or two ahead of your arrival date, you have the option to book without prepayment. Be sure to read the policies listed in the column next to the price; they are clear and well laid out without any surprises. This booking and payment method makes it easier to change plans if needed and not worry about a lengthy process to get funds returned to you.

Black credit card with gold microchip

Most Hotels on the Website will Book your Stay Without Prepayment

Customer Service

4 - CUSTOMER SERVICE IS RELIABLE AND QUICK - Having questions about your booking answered either before you leave or when you’re in the middle of a stay can be solved by calling the customer service number or sending a message. They will connect directly to the hotel for you.

During a trip to Poland I was unable to get in touch with the owner of the accommodation I would be staying at, so I reached out to booking.com; they were able to connect with him and answer a question before my arrival. I appreciated that type of customer service when I needed it.

Up Front Policies

5 - A DEFINITIVE LIST OF THE FACILITIES AND POLICES IS INCLUDED WITH EACH HOTEL POST - At the bottom of the page, each hotel lists information on categories such as parking, payments, check-in/out times, as well as elevator access, cleaning services, airport shuttle options, and the list goes on. It’s beneficial to have all this information for each hotel to compare one property to the next.


6 - THE SITE IS EASY TO NAVIGATE - In the desktop version, you enter the location or specific hotel name you're looking for, the travel dates, along with the number of people in the room, and you're off! You are taken to the results page, which has a green strip at the top. This strip allows you to filter the results by best solo travel options, review score, ratings, genius perks, price etc. When you see a hotel that interests you, click on it to see large photos of the hotel property and its rooms along with all the information you could need about booking that accommodation. There are also map views, additional filters and prompts to help you along the way.

Map it

7 - THE MAP ENABLES YOU TO SEE EXACTLY WHERE YOU'RE STAYING IN THE CITY - it can also be used to see other hotels in the surrounding area displaying the price and the availability of each property without having to click on the hotel itself.

Another great benefit of map view is that it's interactive. You can move the map with your mouse, and as more of it comes into view, it automatically updates, showing other hotels in the area with their availability and price. More hotel pinpoints are also offered if you zoom into the map and concentrate on one place.

Map from booking.com website showing pins of hotel availability

Hotel Availability and Price - Screenshot taken from Booking.com


8 - THERE ARE NUMEROUS FILTERS TO CREATE SEARCH RESULTS - As mentioned above, you can use the green strip to filter by review score, by location to city centre, by genius program etc., and there are additional filters on the left side of the page. They are extensive; they range from standard options such as price and property type to very specific such as hotels with laptop-friendly workspaces and accommodations with braille and tactile signs for the visually impaired.

What about searching with options to include beachfront properties, and pet-friendly cruises, or accommodations that provide airport shuttles and golf courses within three kilometres? The sheer volume of filters seems to exceed most booking websites.


9 - THERE ARE GREAT DISCOUNTS AND PERKS AVAILABLE FOR GENIUS MEMBERS - The program on booking.com is an excellent opportunity to save money on future bookings. There are two levels to the program, and once you reach a level you have a lifetime membership. The first level requires that you complete two stays in two years to receive 10% off before taxes on genius program hotels.

The second level requires you to complete five stays in two years to receive 15% off your booking before taxes, plus complimentary breakfasts on select options and complimentary room upgrades on select options. The best way to take advantage of the program is to use the Genius filter in the green strip at the top when showing the search results and pick from these hotels.

Once you reach either level, you do not need to repeat the completed bookings every two years; you are enrolled for life.

Overall Opinion

10 - AN EXCELLENT TRACK RECORD - When I began to write this article, I decided to see what other travellers thought of booking.com and was surprised to find some scathing articles. If a company is booking 1.5 million room stays daily, there are bound to be some who have encountered a problem; I can only judge them based on the experience I've had in the past. I can offer the point of view of a solo traveller who has had 74 hotel bookings with booking.com and never a single issue to speak of.

One Negative

While I enjoy booking my accommodations through booking.com, it’s fair to include any negatives I’ve experienced, and for me, it's the excessive emails. Whenever I search for a new location or go back and look at a previous stay, almost instantly, emails are sent requesting to book a property at that location. It's overkill! I thought it would be easy to change my subscriptions. However, it’s not straight forward. I recently tried turning off search assistant and we'll see if that takes care of it.

So there you have it! An honest review of why I have used booking.com for almost all of my travel bookings and will continue to use them for years to come.

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