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Pros and Cons and your personal experience of using Booking.com for hotel rooms/apartments in Paris

As the subject line reads, looking for your feedback on the use of booking.com --

I have used this source for hotels in the US.

I have identified possible hotel rooms and apartments for my daughters and myself for our trip in October of 2023.

If you use booking.com, do you have more control over cleanliness -- obviously through reading the reviews - refund if necessary and legality - especially when it comes to apartments.

Or do you have a better plan?

As always - many thanks for your insights!

Posted by
1129 posts

I learned a long time ago that booking direct is the way to go. I've even found that you may receive a better room when booking direct and they may cut you a break. I would recommend if you see a place that has a more attractive price, ask the hotel directly if they'd honor that price.

Posted by
5532 posts

I have used booking.com without any difficulties. It is a little better for the hotel if you book directly since they save a fee. I have had positive experiences.

Posted by
254 posts

I usually book directly with the property unless I find some amazing deal elsewhere. I read reviews in multiple places like tripadvisor, booking.com, oyster.com etc before choosing. When I have used booking.com, I've never had any issues

Posted by
1401 posts

I find booking.com to be very reliable. Yes, you should try and book direct if the price makes sense, but oftentimes, I have found the price on booking.com to be much better than going the direct route.

Posted by
172 posts

I have used booking.com for years. At times I have had disputes and they have responded promptly. By that I mean within the timeframe that I am at the hotel, or not.
I have found no evidence that you can negotiate a better rate from the hotel itself. The people you talk to at the hotel are not usually in a position to alter rates on their own. I did once do this at a family run hotel. I had the booking.com price on my phone and asked for the rate and it was more. Much more. I showed the person the booking.com rate and they almost did not believe it. Finally they gave a me a rate $2 lower than the booking.com rate.
Another time I asked and they gave me a higher rate than booking.com and I said that booking.com rate was lower, so they said, well, book it on booking.com. Which I did from their lobby and then walked back to the desk and waited while they printed out the brand new reservation that just came to them from booking.com
In order to even attempt better rate you first have to go on booking.com to establish what the rate is. Then you have to make phone calls, etc. seems like a time consuming action in order to even know the difference.
I have used booking.com for places all over the world. They have most all hotels and they have a filter system and they have a maps feature. Essentially you have a huge bank of knowledge about variety, price, where the hotels are, all in one application. If you do not at least go to booking.com to establish a base of knowledge in the area you are going, you are remiss in your search. If you don’t know what you could get, you do not know if anything you get is a better deal.

Posted by
726 posts

I have used Booking.com for several years. I do like it because you can choose the option of Free cancellation the majority of the time on their hotels and check reviews. I have had a couple of problems in Scotland and Italy when I needed to change a room at the hotel, and I was told I had to go through Booking.com (my third party). Trying to get hold of a real person at Booking.com is difficult. I really prefer to contact the hotel to do my bookings, but I still do use Booking.com for some reservations - just because of the convenience and cancellation policies and my credit card info is in one place.

Posted by
11448 posts

For nearly eight years, I have lived in hotels full time. Dozens and Dozens of hotels. I've lost count. In that time frame, I can count on one hand the number of times I have used Booking.com. It was usually when the hotel's booking system wasn't very good, I was asked to use it by the hotel and on a couple of occassions I got a better price that the hotel wouldn't match.

I always book direct. For smaller properties, I usually get something thrown in for doing so.....a free breakfast, a drink, etc. Sometiimes even a nicer room. Occassionally, I have seen a lower price on Booking.com. If so, I will ask the hotel to match it. (They benefit if they do as they don't have to pay commission to Booking.com.) If not, I will use Booking.com.

And by booking direct, if there is a problem, the hotel will take care of it and not send you to Booking.com for help.

Posted by
245 posts

booking.com has the best rates (though I do plan to ask the hotel directly if they will honor it - since booking takes a big cut from the hotel).

i haven't booked much through them but a close friend does quite a bit - he has not has a problem so far.

recently, my company's (massive) travel agency also made bookings for us thru booking.com.... when we checked out early - we had to contact booking.com - so that they could contact the hotel and ask them for a refund. the large hotel was not able to give it to us directly.

Posted by
6879 posts

I have had nothing but positive experiences with booking.com, used it more than 50 times. But it's just a booking engine that smooths the booking process, saves money and has acess to lots of reviews. It has nothing to do with having leverage for business practices like cleanliness. If you have any issue with a room, it's best to deal directly with the hotel staff/ management at the time you experience the problem. Obviously, if a complete refund is involved, then a direct booking is preferable because you cut out the middle-man. But it's a tradeoff. For me, the money savings and ease of booking.com easily outweigh any issues I've had.

Posted by
252 posts

Ditto with @acraven!! Over the past 10 years or so (and, possibily 100+ reservations) I've only had but one or two snafus, and the Booking.com customer service were VERY helpful in resolving the issue.
Unlike @Frank II, I am generally unfamiliar with the city/town and not likely to know properties that I would prefer to book direct (versus airline reservations) and therefore rely on Booking to show me options.

And, who remembers the days when we'd gather recommends the RS Travel Guides and send faxes in order to book rooms?

Posted by
1348 posts

All our booking.com stays have been good. Booking.com's superior search capabilities are a very big help. Some points: don't assume - be sure to read the conditions on each listing, especially cancellation and refund policies, they can vary when you least expect it. Of course you'll read the reviews, but if in doubt about location, use Google Street View to see the actually building and neighborhood.

Posted by
2061 posts

I have found no evidence that you can negotiate a better rate from the hotel itself.

For other than corporate hotels in Paris, I have found the opposite true. You do not always know what the difference may be until you check the hotel's own website. Often, what the hotel itself may offer is not always price per night, but it could be. Sometimes the hotel will include free breakfast, or upgrades. I always check and prefer to skip the middleman whenever I can.

Posted by
4182 posts

Booking.com works very well, and used to be my go-to.
But I find that in recent years, in France at least, hotels have gotten better at offering better rates and/or better cancellation conditions than booking.com through their own websites. Hotel booking engines have also improved. Therefore, I tend to book direct these days.
In particular, hotels from Accor and Best Western chains (lots of charming Best Western properties in France, and plenty of convenient Accor hotels) should be booked direct because their free membership programs offer 5 to 10% discounts, which Booking rarely match.

Posted by
6729 posts

If you have a problem, it is always better to have a relationship with the vendor -- I once showed up exhausted with a cat having booked a pet friendly hotel through a booking site and the hotel had no record of it. Another time, I needed to cancel a couple of bookings because I was in the hospital in Menton -- the one I had booked directly gave me my money back even though it was non-refundable. The one I had booked through a middleman 'couldn't' because it was 'non -refundable.' Not sure if it was booking.com or not -- but after that I always book directly with the vendor for tours or hotels.

Posted by
78 posts

I have used booking.com successfully in the past. That is, until last summer, when we booked a chain hotel in Detroit through them. When we arrived at the hotel, they had no record of our reservation. Nobody at the hotel was able to explain why, and neither was the person we contacted at booking.com. The room was prepaid, by the way. Booking.com suggested an alternate hotel, and refunded us the difference in price (it was more expensive than what we originally paid). The only part that was a hassle was that booking.com wouldn’t directly refund our credit card. It went into our “wallet” on their site, and then we had to transfer it to a checking account. I found it rather odd. So it all worked out in the end, but it added a lot of stress to a vacation day.
Incidentally, a similar thing happened a few days later at a hotel we had booked near Mt Rushmore. Booked through Priceline, again missing reservation at hotel. Resolved by Priceline but again, needless stress. In both cases we had booked early at great rates, and then traveling in the U.S. became quite popular again last summer. So I think the hotels overbooked and then off-loaded those of us who booked third party, or at lower rates.
Anyway, I’ll think twice before booking with a third party again, especially in a high demand area. Not great to arrive and find out they don’t have your reservation.

Posted by
287 posts

Like another poster reported, I have had multiple bad experiences with Booking.com, showed up at hotels and there is no record of the reservation. Happened twice in the US, and also once in France. Fortunately each time the hotel was able to accommodate us, but I have never had this happen when I book directly with hotels, and I will never again use Booking.com.

Posted by
21314 posts

I've only rarely needed to cancel a (refundable) hotel reservation, but I really appreciated the ease of doing that on booking.com. Since those rooms were not prepaid (I don't do that), there's no issue about getting my money back; I just need an electronic record of having canceled. I don't generally use booking.com for domestic trips, and when I've needed to cancel a US reservation at a non-chain hotel, it has sometimes been awkward. I don't like having to cancel by phone and hope I'll receive the email confirmation I need to be sure I'm not charged for the first night.

I definitely have found cases when booking.com was less expensive than the hotel's own website. I take long trips (up to 30 hotels per trip) and usually make most of the reservations when I'm already on the road. When I have time and think to do it, I check the hotel's website, but I don't do that consistently because it hasn't paid off very often from a financial standpoint.

I think sometimes hotels put their smallest/cheapest rooms, as well as some of their standard and upgraded rooms, on booking.com. Those tiny rooms are fine for me as a solo traveler, and sometimes it seems the hotel simply doesn't offer them on its own website. That may be a good part of the reason I don't usually find booking.com more expensive than making a direct reservation.

Posted by
261 posts

I only use either booking.com or the hotel property website for accommodations in Paris and worldwide. Sometimes one site provides better offers, attractive prices, and flexible terms and conditions. I’ve found that in some instances additional room selections and availability occur on the hotel website. Also, a phone call or email to some properties has produced even more benefits. Notwithstanding, booking.com has connected via email me directly to property staff who have responded with answers to questions.

The results (so far) have always been great.

Posted by
926 posts

My pros for booking.com are that sometimes it is easier. Some of the small hotels I stay in have reservation systems that are a bit difficult, or they don’t respond very quickly. I’ll start with the hotel, but if it isn’t easy, I’ll try booking. Also in booking I like that you can put in an area and get a quick list of several hotels available, and see reviews from people who have stayed there. You have to read reviews with caution, but if multiple complain about noise or something, I’m probably going to avoid that place. I have never had any problem with my reservation or the price with booking. Once booking had two options for a single room in the same hotel-one was a slightly higher price for a courtyard view room. I chose that one and ended up with a street view room anyway. That’s the only problem I ever encountered with booking, and it was not a huge deal so I didn’t go to booking about it.
My pros for reserving directly through the hotel is that the hotels sometimes prefer it, and you can directly communicate with them about your room options before reserving.
Also worth noting I always try on booking to find a place that doesn’t require prepayment and that you can cancel up to 2-3 days before you arrive. I’ve had to cancel a few times and never had a problem.

Posted by
84 posts

I use Booking.com for most of my early stage planning, then often contact the property to book with them direct. I used to use Booking.com all the time, but I had several really bad experiences with them in 2019 in Italy (and also in Hawaii last year). All the bad experiences were with properties that rent as apartments. Booking offered NO support, even when it was their handling that began the problem. One issue happened when they had a system problem that meant a payment was not made in time, which led to the booking being canceled automatically by the system. The partial payments were later refunded, but it left us without a place to stay during peak travel time. When one of the properties had a water leak, so no hot water for showers or dish washing, we were told to find another place ourselves because Booking had no access to a comparable available property. We finally gave up trying to get a full refund from the owner. No problems at hotels, but I also usually find batter pricing direct from the hotels. What I do like about the service is how easy it is to ask questions of the property through them. Last month I had a booking through them in San Diego that I had to cancel after the deadline because Alaska airlines dumped our flight last minute. The property was willing to let me rebook for a trip later this year, but Booking was no help- but I did not expect them to be. We will be traveling in France for 5 weeks in May/June this year and I have a few bookings with them. I am a bit nervous about that, but we will see. As it gets closer I will probably start converting a couple of those to direct bookings.

Posted by
3699 posts

kerouac2 states the Hotels.com argument for me too.
It covers many, if not all, the same properties as Booking.com plus its reward system has given me several free nights. Almost never have I seen hotel "rack" rates match what these sites offer (rack being the price that hotels state up-front.) Maybe there are secrets to uncovering bargains through direct negotiation but I haven't found any.
I also suspect, but can't prove, that Booking and Hotels sites sometimes have blocks of rooms set aside to sell. Can anyone confirm this hunch?

Posted by
2442 posts

The first and only time I used booking.com, the hotel had no record of our reservation. We ended up with a better room for less money than what I had booked through booking.com.

Posted by
2283 posts

I find Booking.com very easy to use, and I like that they only accept reviews from people who have stayed at the property. I also like the way you can communicate with the property online via Booking.com. So... I always start my search with Booking.com.

I often check the hotel's website to see if they offer a better deal. Lately, it hasn't happened, but if the hotel's site is easy to use and the price is the same, I will book direct so they don't have to pay a commission to Booking.com. I tend to stay at smaller places, and many of them don't offer a way to book online. So I end up booking most of my hotels or B&Bs through Booking.com.

I have never had a problem with a missing reservation. I have on the other hand had a B&B lose my reservation (they acknowledged it was their fault and were able to accommodate me although I had to switch rooms during the stay). So it can happen regardless of how you book.

I have had to cancel reservations made through Booking.com and I was refunded pretty promptly as I recall.

Posted by
11448 posts

Let me clarify something......I look at the reviews on Booking.com to help choose a hotel but then I try to book directly with the hotel.

I agree with Balso that Accor is best to book direct for the discount. And I agree with him regarding Best Western. The European Best Westerns are not like the U.S. ones. They are not a large corporate chain. They are all individually operated by the owner. They utilize the Best Western booking system and agree to live up to the Best Western standards. Many are small, older hotels just like the ones Rick Steves recommends.

I recently stayed in one in the center of Carcassonne. It was great.

Posted by
492 posts

I very much enjoy Booking.com for their search functionality - being able to root around their site, filter results, view things on a map, sort through options to find hotels.

Truth be told, however, I've never once actually used them to book a room. Have always found a better deal going directly to the hote's website, or booking through something like AmEx or Chase travel depending on where I wanna get points.

Posted by
21314 posts

As others have mentioned, booking.com makes it easy to communicate with the hotel. I've always gotten a quick response. It's standard for me to message the hotel, saying I need a room with good Wi-Fi reception. Responses indicate that hotels do read those emails, though a prudent hotel will always warn that it cannot guarantee to meet such requests. Depending on what I've read in reviews and the hotel's facilities, I sometimes also request a room on the quiet side of the building and/or one on a lower floor (if there is no elevator).

I don't expect always to get what I've asked for, but it seems to work more often than not, and the reception staff often mention my request when I check in. Mind you, I am not asking for premium features for which one would expect to pay extra, like a balcony or a great view.

As far as I know, booking.com doesn't block-book rooms and re-sell them to travelers; I've seen no sign of that. I suspect hotels.com does that, and I'm nearly certain Expedia does. I think the usual sign of third-party-controlled rooms is a slew of prominently-displayed promotions for non-refundable rooms. In my experience, if you work through booking.com, you will have a refundable option for just about every property, with the possible exception of extremely high-demand periods like Holy Week in Andalucia (or perhaps Oktoberfest in Munich).

Posted by
4698 posts

Wait. There are people who have not used booking.com?

Posted by
436 posts

I've had great luck with booking.com for the past 15 or so years. I use them for domestic and international destinations. I always check booking.com first, then go to the hotel's site to compare the prices. Usually booking.com is lower, sometimes because of my Genius discount.
The only issue I've ever had was when a hotel in Gettysburg, PA said they didn't have record of a cancellation I did through the website. They had charged my card for one night because they thought I was a no-show. Booking.com customer service resolved it in a few days and credited my card.
I really like the idea that Booking's reviews are only allowed by people who stay there. I will always use them to search for properties first, then do further research to check prices on hotels' individual sites.

Posted by
15053 posts

Sometimes there are discounts on booking.com if you are registered with them. It costs nothing to do that and I've never had spam/ads/etc from my registration.

Posted by
36 posts

I use Booking.com all the time. Last year I booked a Disney World onsite hotel, and it was better than the one I booked through Disney. This is my goto hotel booking site.

Posted by
3083 posts

I booked a B&B in Bayeux on Booking about a month ago because the B&B's website was not working (I just got a blank page). I checked the B&B's website again today, and it is working! Rates are lower with direct booking. I contacted the host to book direct and am saving around $100 total for 2 rooms over 3 nights.

Posted by
1873 posts

Our experiences have all been positive. My predilection is to book directly but seem to recall sometimes when contacting the hotels online I have been shuttled straight over to booking.com anyway. I also believe I recall prices varied, sometimes higher on booking.com and sometimes lower than the hotel’s website. If I had difficulty with booking.com their representatives were responsive and helpful. It was really nice on one trip where all our reservations were with booking.com and were organized and easily reviewed. Good luck and safe travels.

Posted by
4 posts

I love Booking.com. We like to rent apartments in the cities we visit and so it can be difficult to find individual ones unless it's through a booking site. One of the great things is you can narrow your search down to just "apartments" in the search engine with them. You can also narrow it down to how many bedrooms, bathrooms, balcony, air conditioner, etc. which I find extremely helpful. But the biggest benefit for me as opposed to other agents like AirB&B, VRBO, is they do not tack on an outrageous service fee to book with them, plus I never prepay and always book the units that can be cancelled within a few days of the stay and then it's an easy do in the app. Even before booking anywhere though, I read the reviews on several sites and Google "street walk" the area around the property to make sure it's just what I'm looking for. Enjoy you holiday next October!

Posted by
5630 posts

I never use Booking.com exclusively, but use kayak.com which sometimes directs me to Booking.com as the best deal.
I prefer booking directly with the hotel or B&B.

Posted by
84 posts

Beverly, I use the Google street walk function too. I find it very helpful, and it often gets me excited to BE there, and sometimes relieved that I won't.