Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor: Part 1 – Finding the Right Hotel

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I’ve walked you through some of my favorite sites for booking travel such as Google Flights and ITA Matrix.  But the 1 site I use most often is TripAdvisor.

Many folks know TripAdvisor as THE site for hotel reviews.  But you can also compare hotel prices, search for flights, as well as find interesting activities and places to eat during your next trip.

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

TripAdvisor Can Help You Travel Smarter!

I’ll show you some tips & tricks for using TripAdvisor to travel like a pro!

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor

Finding the Right Hotel With TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is a great tool for finding the right hotel for your next vacation, whether you’re planning an award stay or a paid stay.  Searching is easy and there are plenty of filters to customize your search.

Find the Best Price for Paid Hotel Stays

Although you can’t book hotels on TripAdvisor, you can compare prices.  Just enter your destination into the search box.

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

Start Your Search Here!

For example, there are ~500 hotels in Madrid, Spain.  Luckily, there are lots of ways to narrow down your results.

Filters

Instead of wasting time looking through 16 pages of results, you can choose hotels based on:

  • Price – Limit your search to hotels within a certain price range
  • Hotel Class – Choose 1 star to 5 star hotels
  • Style – Romantic, luxury, quiet, charming, and more
  • Hotel Brand – Loyal to particular brands?  You can choose to view only those hotels
  • Location Find hotels that are close to the airport or other important tourist destinations
  • Amenities  Select important hotel features such as free Wi-Fi, restaurant, or wheelchair access

Above the filter categories, there’s also list of quick links to commonly used filters.

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

TripAdvisor Has a Wide Range of Filters to Help You Sort Through Your Results and Find the Hotel You’re Looking For!

Sort Your Results

Next, you can bring the most relevant hotels to the top of the list.

The default is “Just for You.”  This feature allows you to save search criteria to your profile, so the results will be automatically catered to you each time.

“Just for You” hasn’t yet been perfected and because the hotels I’m looking for tend to vary with each trip, I prefer to use other sort options such as:

  • Availability – Bring hotels with available rooms during your travel dates to the top of your search results
  • Ranking – Sort by the average user review
  • Price – Organize your results starting with the highest priced or the lowest prices hotels
  • Distance – View hotels closest to the city’s center
Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

Save More Time by Sorting Your Results

Map Search

I like using the map search tool to get a better idea of which hotels have the best locations.  This is similar to Google Hotel Finder.

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

To Search By Map, Click “Open Map” at the Top of the Page

The blue circles on the map are hotels.

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

Zoom in or Zoom Out to Adjust Your Search Area

You can use the same filters you had with the basic list search.  Plus, you can also add markers for restaurants and things to do.

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

Find Hotels Near Places That Interest You

For example, if you’re looking for a hotel near the pedestrian plaza, Puerta del Sol, with a popular restaurant nearby, you can view your options on the map.

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

This Narrows It Down to 5 Hotels

Hover the mouse over the blue circles to get a quick view of the hotel name and reviews.  Or drop a pin to see the hotel ranking and a sample price per night in the window on the left of side of the page.

Out of these choices, I like Hotel Europa.  It has good reviews and it’s close to Plaza Del Sol.  Plus, there’s a pizza place nearby, which can help me avoid expensive hotel food.  I love pizza and I love saving money!  So what’s not to like?!

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

Click Through to Get More Information About the Hotel and Read Reviews

Clicking the hotel name will take you to a page complete with reviews, photos, ranking, and pricing.

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

But Does TripAdvisor Find You the Best Hotel Rates?

Does TripAdvisor Find the Lowest Hotel Prices?

You can’t book hotels directly through TripAdvisor’s website, but it will search for prices across several booking sites.  Then you click through to book the hotel.

However, you can book some hotels instantly on the Trip Advisor iPhone and Android mobile apps and the Trip Advisor mobile site.

Let’s take a look and see how TripAdvisor hotel prices compare to those found with Kayak.

1.   Madrid, Spain

According to TripAdvisor, the lowest price for the Hotel Europa is ~$70 when you book directly through the hotel’s website.

The lowest price on Kayak is ~$110 per night through Booking.com.

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

TripAdvisor Would Save You ~$40 per Night!

2.   Denver, Colorado

The Hampton Inn & Suites at the Convention Center is $199 before taxes on TripAdvisorKayak shows the same rate.

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

TripAdvisor and Kayak Found the Same Rate of $199 per Night

 3.   Charlotte, North Carolina

TripAdvisor found the Holiday Inn Express in Charlotte, North Carolina, for $126 per night, when you book directly through Holiday Inn.

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

Kayak Found the Same Rate of $126 per Night at Holiday Inn

TripAdvisor and Kayak search many of the same sites for finding the best hotel rates, including Hotels.com, Booking.com, and Expedia.

And for the most part, TripAdvisor and Kayak come up with the same results.

However, TripAdvisor did save $40 per night by checking the Hotel Europa website.

Choosing the Best Hotel for Award Nights

If you’re using points for your stay, TripAdvisor is a good supplement to Award Mapper or Hotel Hustle.

I like to use the latter to see which chain hotels are in the area and the cost per night in points.

Then I pick out a few that will work for me and visit TripAdvisor to check out reviews & photos and make my final decision.

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

Get All the Details About Your Reward Hotel Options With TripAdvisor

Reviews

I like to read what others have experienced to help me decide on a hotel.

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

Find Out If Other Travelers Enjoyed Their Stay

However, I still recommend folks take reviews with a grain of salt.

Folks are more likely to write reviews when they’ve had a bad experience instead of when they had a nice stay.  And while TripAdvisor works to prevent it, some hotels try to write their own glowing reviews or scathing reviews for competitors.

So the reviews in the middle tend to give a more balanced view.

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

“Very Good” & “Average” Reviews May Provide More Useful Information About Hotels

Photos

A quick scan of traveler images can also help you choose the right hotel.

Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor Part 1 Finding The Right Hotel

Get a Better Look at the Rooms With Photos Taken by Travelers Like You

Bottom Line

TripAdvisor is an excellent way to help you find the right hotel for your next getaway!

Filter and sorting features can save you time and money.  Plus, traveler reviews and photos give you a more realistic look at the hotel experience.

But TripAdvisor isn’t just for hotels, in the next post we’ll take a look at how you can use it to find cheap flights.

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3 responses to “Travel Smarter With TripAdvisor: Part 1 – Finding the Right Hotel

  1. Good tips; I honestly never noticed the map feature on Trip Advisor before, but like you I turn to that site as the final step in my decision making between hotel options. And BTW, the images of Madrid brought back a lot of memories of my time there this past May, celebrating my birthday with a cool Russian girl I met in Barcelona. I also spent 1 night in the Intercontinental there and got the upgrade of a lifetime: The Royal Suite! But I digress. Thanks again for the tips, as always.

  2. One other thing to look at is to see how many reviews someone has had, and how they rated the reviews. If someone has just a few reviews, that’s suspect, particularly if they rated either great or awful for a lot of them. There have been suspicious reviews, like when I was researching restaurants in Crete, many reviews were from Greeks, and either wonderful or awful, with few in between. Another thing that draws a bit more scrutiny is where the reviewer is located. If a reviewer is from Miami, it seems a little strange to review a hotel on Miami Beach.

  3. I concur with using traveler reviews for finding properties. This was VERY effective for me last year on my first trips to London and Paris. Having no frame of reference for either city, TripAdvisor was an enormous help. With a minor exception, I was very pleased with the properties I selected.