Best Price Guarantees offered by major hotel chains often do not guarantee a lower price, a Which? Travel investigation has found.
Many chains create the impression you will get the best price by booking through their websites because they offer a guarantee that if you find the same room type in the same hotel cheaper elsewhere they will match the price.
You might think the guarantees mean that all you need to do if you find a better price is call up the hotel chain, tell it about the rival price and get the price matched before you book.
Cheap hotel rooms
But we found that the majority of hotel chains will not honour a promise to match a better deal unless you have booked and paid for a room with them first.
We looked at the Best Price Guarantees offered by 14 chains and found better prices for the same hotel on the same date for 12 of them; Barcelo, Britannia, Crowne Plaza, Days Inn, Hilton, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, Jurys Inn, Mercure, Novotel, Radisson Blu, and Sofitel.
But when we called to claim our discount we were disappointed. Only two chains – Britannia and Jurys Inn – immediately offered to match the price we had found.
Hotel price comparison
Many chains told us we had to pay them for a room first, at the higher price, and then submit a claim with evidence of the better deal.
The chain would then decide if we qualified for the price match promise. Claims procedures were often inconvenient, including online forms, potentially pricey 0871 numbers and being told to wait three days for an answer.
This wait could make the guarantee worthless – if the hotel chain took that long to decide that your rival price did not meet the criteria, the cheaper option might no longer be available.