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Booking direct vs. through Booking.com

Is there an advantage to booking a apartment stay through booking.com vs booking directly through the apt?

Posted by
160 posts

There is only a disadvantage. If you have any problems you will have to go through Booking.com, one extra layer of hassles, to get your problem resolved.

Posted by
8009 posts

I've done both and have never had problems so either way works.

A lot of independently owned places that can't afford a webmaster to maintain their own 24/7 booking website and want more exposure find it more cost effective to pay to list their places on an international website that shows reviews from actual customers in multiple languages and prices in different currencies on Booking.com.

Posted by
5962 posts

There are many advantages of using booking.com and IMO, many disadvantages. I've had two issues/problems with them. One, I felt they handled appropriately and one not handled appropriately. I have always tried to book direct. I like the innkeeper to get all my money, and I like having a more personal relationship. There are situations that I have been pretty much forced to use them. We just completed an almost 4 week trip to New Zealand. Most of the properties, even from their own website, navigated to booking.com when reserving an accommodations. I will agree that it is nice to have all the bookings in one app. Also, if you use them enough, you start to get discounts. However, when booking direct, sometimes the price is lower.

I feel like their ratings are fairly reliable, and they are probably more reliable than most other sources. I often use booking.com to search for properties and then will try to book directly with the property.

Posted by
4560 posts

I like having everything in one place, and I figure while booking direct might save a few bucks, it requires more admin work on my part.

Posted by
365 posts

Just a note, if you start booking via Booking.com and “owner” contacts you and asks you to start paying them directly this should be a red flag. If you go over on Tripadvisor and other places, you will see a lot of people to basically got completely screwed, They lost all the protection from Booking.com and basically got scammed when there was no apartment. You want to be sure that you protect yourself if it all possible.

The same thing is true with Airbnb. If an Airbnb host, askd stop paying them via Airbnb step away from the deal. You do not want to give up that protection.

Posted by
789 posts

As pp have said, Apartments through booking.com have some sort of guarantee or recourse....if its direct, you would have to pursue recourse yourself......agreed, don't go outside the booking platform after you have contracted through them. Established rental companies would be more likely to have easier and more clear ways to resolve any disputes.

Posted by
1166 posts

We have used booking.com for years and love the ease of the website. And after 10 years of usage, we have never had an issue.

However, I LOVE finding the B&B's website/email and contacting them directly. It's always a treat when the owner greets me at the door, knowing my name. We already feel like family to some of the small, amazing lodging sites we have found.

I go to Trip Advisor and look up the town/region with TRAVELER RANKED. I find my favorite possible spots, preferably with 5.0 and a Travelers Choice flag. Then I go to booking.com to see photos and read reviews. Then I contact the lodging directly if you can.

Sometimes, small locations ONLY are on booking.com and have no email access to make reservations.

Posted by
5035 posts

I do my research on booking.com, and especially look at the reviews. One cannot leave a review unless one actually stayed at the property.
Booking direct can often be cheaper, especially stays of 4-5 days. However, sometimes booking direct does not offer the same cancelation policies as offered by the same property on booking.com. However, a more flexible cancelation policy usually costs more.
Sometimes the property's own website is clunky and slow, and you may not receive a confirmation immediately. If it's a property that I know, then I don't worry.
Good luck!

Posted by
15571 posts

I always book direct unless the property suggests I use booking.com

By booking direct, as a way of saying thank you, many hotels have given me free upgades, free food, free drinks, bottles of wine in my room, and more.

There was even one hotel who offered to pay for a car service from the airport to the hotel if you booked direct. (I did.)

I use Tripit Pro to keep track of my accomodations, transportation and other tickets/reservations.

Posted by
19155 posts

I have had great success with not using a third party booking website like Booking.com. Most of the places where I have stayed in Germany have been small family run Gasthauses and Privatzimmer. I have great confidence in booking direct in Germany. Every place has been very nice; it seems that Germans have very high standards.

I notice that this question was posted on the France forum. I have not booked direct in France. I don't know that I would have as much confidence in booking direct in France as I do in Germany.

Since 2000, I have spent 158 nights in 46 places in Germany. Three have been through a TI office; the rest have been booked direct. I found 34 places using town websites. I used Google Maps for 5 places when I knew I wanted to stay in a specific location. The remainder were places I had stayed at in the last century, saw on a previous trip, etc.

In a number of places, there were 2 to 3 times as many places shown on the town website as were listed on Booking.com, and the prices on Booking places were by far more expensive than for the places in the town that were not listed on Booking. In the few cases where the property was listed on Booking, I was able to get better prices booking direct than I would have gotten with Booking. Booking denies that this can happen, but places have ways to get around it. At one property, the price shown on booking for all rooms is the same as the price of the most expensive room. To get a lower priced, slightly smaller but just as nice room, you have to book direct. In others, by booking direct, I have been able to book package deals at the same price as with Booking but with extras, like an additional meal per day or spa entry.

I haven't found many Ferienwohnungen (vacation apartments) listed on Booking.com. In one town where I spent 9 night in a FeWo in 2017, there were at least 10 of them shown on the town website, but none on Booking.com. There was one apartment listed on AirBnB but not on the town website; it was significantly more expensive on AirBnB than any apartment on the town website.

Posted by
6788 posts

I've had only good experiences with booking dot com.

While I sometimes book directly, IME booking dot com generally does a good job, and provides some key advantages - it's great as a search tool (in conjunction with cross-checking other sources) and - perhaps most important - usually offers the option of cancelling with no penalty (often up until the day before). You typically pay a little more for this cancel-for-free-for-any-reason option, but for me, having that flexibility is really valuable (especially now that we live in pandemic-era travel where all sorts of things can go sideways). FWIW I've often found there to be no free-cancellation option when booking the same property directly. So I'm willing to pay a little more to booking dot com for that flexibility. YMMV.

Posted by
5962 posts

I think it could depend on the type of property the traveler uses. I have found opposite of David. When I see that the best price option on booking is non refundable, I go to the lodging's website and most often find a more flexible and better deal.

I had a very bad experience with Booking for a property in Seattle. It clearly was a fraudulent listing. Booking insisted it was legit and promised they would find us a new property for the same price if we arrived and found that the property was not available. I provided them all kinds of information showing that they had been using multiple property titles and misidentifying neighborhoods and Booking insisted that the listing was legit and the only reason that the property was no longer listed was because the property wasn't paying its fees to Booking so they were suspended. I gave up trying to work with them and canceled the booking and booked thru AirBnB. Because the Booking property was a block from my son's house, the morning after I arrived, I went over to the fourplex a block away and asked about the Booking listing. I talked to folks from two different units who told me that there were no vacant units and no one was listing their unit on Booking. To say they were shocked, was an understatement.

Posted by
27362 posts

My experience from 2015 up until last fall was that, price-wise, using booking.com was sometimes less expensive than booking directly, sometimes more expensive, and often just about the same. As was noted above, rate disparities can be linked to room size and quality, so you don't always know you are comparing apples to apples.

This year, booking.com often seems quite a bit more expensive than the hotel's own website (and I do often qualify for a discount). I mostly travel to different places every year, so it's impossible for me to be sure, but I suspect booking.com has changed its pricing policy in some way. Therefore, I'd suggest that folks like me, who've depended a lot on booking.com in the past, should check some hotel websites to be sure it's still as reasonable an option as it used to be.

Posted by
4574 posts

I pay attention to method of payments, any cash security deposit requirements, and what the final payment date. I don't want to have to put cash security deposits in Euros as it means I have currency conversion to Euros and then back to Cdn$...particularly if I fly home immediately and can't use up the cash in Europe.

Posted by
546 posts

I personally prefer AirBnB to Booking.com. That's a matter of individual preference, but I've found the selection of properties is superior on AirBnB, as is the description of each individual property.

Posted by
7006 posts

I personally prefer AirBnB to Booking.com. That's a matter of individual preference, but I've found the selection of properties is superior on AirBnB, as is the description of each individual property

I agree that AirBnB has a bigger selection in most geographies, but Booking.com is much better with "junk fees".

Typically, I use Booking.com as a search engine, and if I find a place I like, I will try to see if I can find a way to book direct without having to resort to phone calls or emails (at least out of France - I have no problem making a phone call here). Oftentimes, booking.com will be the only easy booking option for a listed apartment. For hotels, however, a lot of progress has been made, and going direct is now usually the better option.

Posted by
15571 posts

One other thing....if you book through a third party you may not get hotel frequent stay points or airline miles.

As an example, starting May 1, American Airlines will no longer award airline miles if your flight is booked through most online third party sites. They want you to book direct. I expect other arilines to follow.

The same for hotel points. Many chains don't award points if not booked direclty or through specific travel agents.

Posted by
8009 posts

Booking.com and Expedia (both as third parties) have their own reward systems for regular customers.

Posted by
2467 posts

I usually try to book direct. Most of the places I stay can only be booked direct. But 2 places I have stayed ( one of them twice ) are unable to be booked directly and I went thru booking.com. I haven’t had a problem with them. Twice I had to cancel and no problem. Questions were promptly answered.

Posted by
7400 posts

I booked our two apartments for our southern Spain trip two months ago with Booking.com

For both of them, I was able to correspond with the owner or property manager through the Booking interface, and they promptly replied. I also like that all of the fees for the rental are listed upfront on Booking where sometimes during a regular direct condo reservation, extra fees start showing up.

Also, one of the Booking listings stated in the details that the place takes a €300 cash damage deposit when we arrive. That never happened (I assume it was the direct listing requirements) which I appreciated since we had to leave early morning for our next city.

I use Booking a lot, so I do get a discount on reservations.

Posted by
5962 posts

I am on a New Zealand travel forum and there was a fair amount of discussion of extra fees coming on Booking.com reservations. Most often, it was a fee to use a credit card. Most of my properties were paid thru the booking app, and I didn't encounter an extra fee. However, on the one place I did pay the property directly as per the property company's request, there was a credit card fee.

Lately, there has been some buzz about an additional tax that is popping up on properties that are of a certain size.

Posted by
27362 posts

After using booking.com for over 150 reservations since 2015, I find it really irritating to book directly with some hotels; you don't necessarily get an answer to your emails. That's not an issue with communication through booking.com. However, as I said above, I'm seeing wider rate discrepancies this year, so I have a bunch of direct bookings in northern Italy and one in Switzerland. I'm about to buy a new type of adapter plug I may not actually need because the Swiss hotel hasn't bothered to answer my question about which type of outlet it has. (Yes, I know I should try again and run the question through Google Translate so I can ask in Italian.)

Posted by
3 posts

Interestingly enough, the only place I tend to find cheaper prices offering a free cancel or amend option on Booking dot com are those small hotels about 12 miles away from my home town, in a seaside resort on the Fylde coast.

Booking dot com has served me very well for the years I lived in Cyprus where everything travel related was much better to be handled as a DIY option - because local travel agencies only sold the itineraries they had put together for them, rather than trips as a tailor made package.

Since returning to UK almost 8 years ago - we've continued to use Booking dot com and also Hotels dot com in conjunction with Topcashback (refunds the cash back at around 12 to 14 weeks after completion of your stay).

Checking again today for a holiday we have booked next month and a nearby airport hotel - even with the hotel chain's own website, it's still more expensive with the more flexible cancellation option than than either of the two favoured accommodation search engines.

I research, choose free cancellation up to the same day or the day before where possible - and will then keep an eye open as we get closer to the date of departure.
There's always a window of opportunity to make a new booking and cancel the original, should the price drop considerably.

Posted by
128 posts

One advantage to using Booking over AirBnB is that Booking lists the real address of the apartment. You can go to Google Maps and research the property and the neighborhood on street view. As others have noted, Booking only allows reviews from people who have stayed at the property, unlike TripAdvisor.

Posted by
135 posts

I always book directly with hotels as we travel via bicycle so I need to be sure there is space to lock our bikes securely overnight. Recently I was booking accommodation in La Galcilly, in Brittany and resorted to Booking.com as that was the only option. The accommodation was an apartment and advertised free parking. After booking and paying the deposit, I was able to contact the owner to confirm the suitability of the bike parking, only to find out it was only an area outside the apartment building with no possibility of locking our bikes in a protected space. Despite the 'free cancellation' described on Booking.com, it took almost 6 weeks and multiple requests to get the deposit returned from the owner, and they deducted a credit card fee. Lesson learned - book hotels directly and not through a third party as they were of no help when I needed it.

Posted by
800 posts

jshohetzabin,
In many years of booking either directly with the lodging or through Booking.com, I have always had immediate positive responses when cancelling with Booking.com. Likewise with Hotels.com. And I have found that free cancellation is often not offered when booking directly with the property. Yes, messages to the property go through Booking.com, but I have found that communication is quite fast (within one day). Whether I use Booking.com or go directly to the property depends on various factors. The price has usually been about the same, but I do have some perks and discounts available to me through Booking.com, so I often save money using them. I don't usually rent apartments, but have rented apart/hotels in Chile. I use Gites-de-France in France, but do not use AirBandB or VRBO. Gites-de-France offers chambres d'hote (for one or more nights) which I like, as they are akin to the traditional B and Bs, staying at someone's home and having breakfast there and interacting with the hosts. And we have rented a house from them for longer periods. (It is my go-to site for staying in France.)
It is up to you, but decide on your parameters and goals, then do a little searching on the internet. Bonne chance!