When it comes to booking hotels and apartments online, many people come across various aggregator websites such as booking.com, agoda.com and hotels.com. The biggest question is this: is booking.com legit? Can I safely book my accommodation with them and know I’m going to find the exact setting and amenities I see on Booking.com?

I remember how the first time I thought to use it, I had the same question: is booking.com legit? Now, after such as long time, I can safely say that I do trust them for all of my accommodation booking needs, particularly when it comes to city breaks and solo trips in easy to reach places.

This is a guide to using Booking.com in an efficient and safe manner. You’ll learn how to tell good hotels from bad, how to avoid cancellation penalties and how to search for the best hotels in your cities or areas of interest. If you already know how to stay away from scams and book only legit hotels on booking dot com or on any other platform for that matter, you can skip directly to this hotel finder page.

Is Booking.com Reliable, Legit & Safe? Should You Book Hotels through Them?

Yes, booking.com is a legit, safe and reliable website. You can use it for all of your travel accommodation needs in Europe or anywhere else.

This hotel booking engine has been around for over two decades now and it is as legit and secure as any other giant brands in the travel industry such as Expedia, VRBO, and Kayak.

The booking.com website is secure, being therefore safe to use your credit card to pay for your bookings. The only thing to keep in mind is that they won’t issue a proper invoice for you to be able to claim VAT. They consider this to be the responsibility of hotel owners. Booking.com gives you a receipt as proof of payment. If you need an invoice, you should contact hotel owners to ask whether they can provide it.

Advantages of Using Booking.com

There are a few benefits of using booking.com rather than other options. I’ll list the ones that matter the most to me.

The Map Display Option

I love the way I can speed up my hotel research on booking.com by using their map display option. This helps me see at a glance where the various hotels are. If I want accommodation near a bus station, for instance, I can see right away which hotels to add to my shortlist. As they also have prices displayed, I can select only those that suit my budget.

Whenever I go to various travel blogging events, I like to pick a hotel near the conference venue. At the same time, I want a nice view from my hotel room and good access to public transport. When I travel to research cities and surrounding areas, I want to be as near to the city center as possible, in order to cover as many tourist objectives as possible over a short period of time.For instance, when I visited Lisbon, I chose to stay within walking distance to Rossio Square, in order to visit Carmo Convent, to check out several miradouros de Lisboa by sunset, and to take the train to Belem without having to spend lots of time on buses or trams. Among all available hotels and apartments, I found this Apartamento Zen en pleno Centro de Lisboa. It was the least expensive in that area and it ticked all boxes.

These maps help me a great deal. However, in busy tourist areas they display way too many options, so I end up spending a lot of time wading through all hotels.

The Advanced Results Filtering Options

Once you have found the answer to your “is booking.com legit” question, you should proceed to the next step, which is to explore the wealth of search options it has to offer. The advanced filtering options are a great way to save time.

Let’s say that you only want to see the hostels at your destination of choice. Why would you browse through villas, hotels and apartments, when all that you want is a bed in  shared hostel room? Similarly, if you prefer self-catering accommodation to all other options, why would you have to scroll through mixed results to find the ones that count?

Booking.com offers you the opportunity to apply a wide array of filters such as star rating, sustainability, distance from your main point of interest, indoor pool, spa, hotels, apartments, hostels, private beach area, entire homes or apartments, villas, guesthouses, lodges, campgrounds, boats, love hotels, bed and breakfasts, and resorts.

aegina scenery chair moon

Choose a villa with a view

There are also facilities filters. You can select only properties with air conditioning, 24-hour front desk, room service, pet friendly, fitness centers, facilities for disabled guests, free wifi, swimming pool or free parking among many others.

The review score is another interesting filter. As only clients who have actually booked their stay through the website are allowed to post a review, you can rest assured they are all legit. Many of these reviews on booking.com are also detailed and accurate. I always use and trust them in my hotel research quests.

The Results Sorting Options

The sorting options on booking.com can prove to be extremely useful, provided that you’ve already applied your desired filters. You can sort the results by Booking’s top picks, highest stars first, lowest stars first, homes and apartments first, distance from downtown, and distance from closest beach.

There’s also an option to sort by Genius discounts first. This only applies when you’ve earned a Genius level with booking.com. They grant these levels based on the number of bookings. The more you use them, the better your offers. I’m a Genius level 2 and I can save nice amounts of money when choosing hotels that offer Genius discounts.

The Booking.com Reviews from Travelers

The best way to ensure you’ll make the right choice for your vacation is to check out the reviews, particularly the negative ones. If many people complain about a thing that could bother you, you know you should move on to other properties. However, if you don’t mind the hardness of the mattress, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t book a hotel room even if most guests found the mattress was too firm for them. Also, if you don’t mind street noise, but you’d rather be near a central traffic hub, you can safely overlook negative reviews that mention noise as the main drawback.

red house on hills

Would you book a room in the house with red roof? Read some reviews before!

Always trust reviews from like minded travelers. If you travel solo, then solo travelers should be the ones to take into account. If you travel as a family, check out what other families with children have to say about specific properties.

The Cancellation Policies – Is Booking.com Legit?

Booking.com has nothing to do with cancellations. These policies belong to hotel owners. This is why you need to read the fine print before you book anything. The fact that booking.com is legit and reliable as travel accommodation resource, it has nothing to do with the different cancellation policies enforced by property owners. Some allow you to cancel without penalties even on a very short notice, while others ask you to pay for your room in advance.

Whatever their cancellation policy, you should know that property owners have the power to waive it, should they consider it necessary. Before anything else, you can try to explain them why you need to cancel. Some will understand and waive your penalty while others won’t. I experienced both types of hotel owners. This is why I prefer to be able to cancel my booking and not pay anything in advance.

Besides, with the flights going hectic these days, you can never know when an airline might cancel your flight. When I’ve been to Lisbon, Portugal, Wizz Air canceled my return flight and put me on a flight two days earlier than scheduled. I paid two nights of accommodation in vain, as I was not able to use them any longer.

How and When To Use Booking.com

Use booking dot com whenever you want to compare several hotels or apartments side by side, in order to find the best value for money. Use it whenever you visit a new place, either solo or with your friends or family.

Don’t use booking.com if you want a circuit type vacation with a guide. Also, if you plan trip to remote places with poor internet connectivity, you may want to rely on local sources for your bookings. When I’ve done the Everest Base Camp Trek, for instance, I couldn’t find good tea houses on Booking.com. For some of those villages there were no listings at all on booking.

I use Booking.com to find and book the best accommodation for my travels. I’ve been using them regularly over the past 10 years and I’ve only had an issue once. Briefly, the hotel in Dublin I had booked a few months in advance decided to close on a very short notice. I had to find another accommodation in Dublin for that period, as I couldn’t cancel that leg of my trip at that time. The new accommodation was also nice, but very expensive, because I had to make the booking on such a short notice. Even though I had gotten my answer to the question “is booking.com legit?” I still felt sad for them not being able to find me an equivalent replacement to that closed hotel.

Are There Other Legit Hotel Booking Sites? What about Hotels.com?

Yes, there are many websites where you can search for hotels and book your stay. Hotels.com and Agoda.com are two reliable and legit alternatives to booking.com. Just take a look at the Agoda results for Lisbon and see how cool such tools are!

If time allows, you can take your accommodation search one step further and compare rates for similar hotels and apartments on all three reservation platforms.

 

Violeta Matei
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