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16 July 2021

Best and worst hotel booking websites

Which accommodation booking website should you use to book your next hotel, apartment or villa stay? Our survey of Which? members reveals all.
Which?Editorial team
Hotel booking 476600

There are now dozens of hotel, villa, holiday cottage and other accommodation booking websites to choose from, from Booking.com and Expedia to Airbnb and Vrbo (formerly HomeAway). 

All claim to have the best options and the best prices, but which one actually does and which one should you trust with your next reservation?

Our exclusive survey results reveal how the most popular accommodation booking sites compare for things like price and customer service, as well as how likely Which? members are to be satisfied with and recommend these websites. Some big-names haven't done their reputations any favours during the coronavirus crisis, so it pays to check our results before booking your next holiday.

The reviews on this page cover online travel agents that provide accommodation. 

If you're after a flight-only deal, see our best flight booking websites. Or check our reviews of best travel comparison websites to find the best prices on travel, accommodation and package holidays.

Accommodation booking sites rated

The table below reveals how nine of the most popular accommodation booking websites compare in areas such as customer service, website functionality and price. 

For more unbiased reviews and independent advice, find out more about Which? Travel.

Booking site
Customer service
Functionality of site
Transparency of fees
Quality of stay
Customer score
Airbnb (419)
Booking.com (1,296)
Vrbo (formerly HomeAway) (168)
Hotels.com (282)
Travel Republic (52)
Expedia (319)
Owners Direct (45)
Lastminute.com (84)
Using the table: Based on a survey of 4,893 Which? members conducted in July/August 2020.
Star ratings from one to five. Sample sizes shown in brackets. A dash (-) means sample size too small to give a star rating. WRP = Which? Recommended Provider.
Functionality of site How easy the site was navigate and how quickly it generated results.
Transparency of fees If the first price quoted was the one the customer ended up paying or were there unexpected fees at the checkout.
Customer score Combines overall satisfaction and likelihood of recommending.

Accommodation booking site reviews

The table above reveals that Airbnb is the best website for booking accommodation but that none of the companies meet the requirement to be a Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) this year. 

As well as reviewing Airbnb below, we've also reviewed the best site for hotel bookings and the worst site for accommodation bookings.

Airbnb: best accommodation booking site

Airbnb was the only booking site to really impress in this year's survey. Despite the huge number of cancellations Airbnb dealt with last year, it still received a five-star rating for customer service when we ran our survey in July/August 2020.

Airbnb did more than its competitors to refund customers whose breaks were disrupted by the first lockdown. It refunded any booking made before 14 March (the date when the pandemic became a 'known event'). We initially awarded Airbnb WRP status. However, we have now removed that status because the platform would not commit to ensuring that anyone unable to travel due to lockdown restrictions will receive a full refund.

Airbnb lets the host set their own cancellation policy, and hosts with a 'strict' cancellation policy may only refund 50% of the nightly rate if the guest cancels up to seven days before check in. 

Our advice is to only book an Airbnb if the host has a flexible/moderate cancellation policy. This allows free cancellation up to 24 hours/five days before check in. Fortunately Airbnb has made it easy to book flexible stays by introducing a free cancellation filter.  

Which? verdict: Make sure you choose a flexible host to ensure you can cancel with a full refund should the pandemic cause further disruption.

Browse accommodation on Airbnb.

Booking.com: most-used hotel booking site

Booking.com is the most popular accommodation booking site in the world – and for good reason. It didn't do poorly in any part of our survey and, although its prices and customer service aren't quite as exceptional as Airbnb's, its website is head and shoulders above any other booking site.

While we could do without the pop-ups trying to rush us into a sale by telling us how many times a place has been booked for our dates in the past few hours, it's great for reserving a room at a competitive price but not having to pay until close to the reservation date. Many properties also allow you to cancel free of charge, while its 'Booking.Basic' badge makes it clear which rooms are non-refundable.

Which? verdict: Your best bet for booking hotels, but still not as cheap as booking your stay direct.

Browse accommodation on booking.com.

Lastminute.com: worst accommodation booking site

Lastminute.com's uncompetitive prices and general mediocrity place it at the bottom of our rankings for accommodation booking for the second year in a row. 

This year, it's an even worse option because of the way it has treated customers during the coronavirus pandemic. While some customers told us they 'eventually' received a refund for cancelled bookings, others complained about a 'total lack of information' and difficulty in contacting Lastminute.com.

Which? verdict: Given that it's also a terrible flight booking site, it's hard to imagine any scenario where booking with Lastminute.com would be a good idea. 

Hotel refunds and cancellations

Before booking any accommodation, it's important to know exactly what your rights are and what you're entitled to if things go wrong. 

If the accommodation provider cancels your booking – which might happen if the hotel unexpectedly has to close, for example – you're entitled to a full refund. But if the hotel is open and local travel restrictions prevent you from getting there, you aren't always entitled to your money back. For this reason, it's often a good idea to book a room that can be freely cancelled, or to book your accommodation as part of a flight-inclusive package, which gives you greater protection.

If you are due a refund, you'll need to contact the company that took payment for your booking. So, if you booked directly with the hotel, for example, it is responsible for refunding you directly. But if you booked the same hotel room on a third-party booking site, like Hotels.com, you'll need to claim your refund through them, which can make the refund process slower. 

How we research booking sites

Between July and August 2020, we asked 4,893 Which? members to tell us about their experiences of using accommodation booking sites in the past two years. We only reported on companies and star rating categories when we received at least 30 responses.

You can have your say on what we research and help us achieve change by joining Which? Connect.