How to use Google Hotels to always get the best deal
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Google Flights has long been my go-to site for searching for cheap flights. But Google also has Google Hotels, a simple search engine for finding and booking hotels and vacation rentals.
Google Hotels has features that make it easier to save money — and just like Google Flights, the site will let you know whether or not you’re getting a good deal. It’ll give you a laundry list of booking options, including the hotel website — so you’ll still have the option of booking directly with the hotel (if it’s the lowest price) and using your favorite hotel credit card.
Perhaps best of all? It’s simply the best at showing the location you’re searching for. It’ll show you accommodation other booking sites don’t even register. I’ll show you what I mean! And if you’re not trying to pay for hotels at all, check out our 7 hotel award booking tricks.
Benefits of using Google Hotels
Google is a powerful entity (too powerful, many would say!!), and with it comes unignorable perks over other search engines. It integrates with Google Maps, which has long been my favorite way to find hotels:
- It’s quicker at redoing searches
- You can view all the sites you have saved. (And use the 360 views)
- It shows hotels that other online travel agencies don’t recognize as a hotel
Booking far-flung and rural accommodation
There are a lot of expert ways to find cheap hotels. In our guide on the best websites to find cheap hotels, we name a couple of our favorite hacks. But Google Hotels is now one of two sites to search for hotels or homestays in really far-flung places.
If you’re in the boonies, you may not find a single hotel without Google. The site most commonly used for these kinds of destinations is Booking.com. Similar to Airbnb, it’s easy for small business owners to integrate without crazy software — just email.
However, Google Maps shows anything classified as a hotel or homestay and everything on other online travel agencies like Booking.com. Compare these two shots of northern Sumatra.
Here are Booking.com’s results:
And here are the Google Hotels results:
First, notice that Google Maps also found the only three hotels that Booking.com found. It’ll often find the same hotels for cheaper prices on other (perhaps less prolific) OTAs. This is the benefit of using a site like Kayak, a site that searches other booking sites.
However, Google Hotels found many off-OTA examples, too. See those dots without price tags? Those are other hotels not identified by booking.com.
Why would I want non-online bookable hotels?
Because sometimes it’s the only thing there.
They aren’t all low-quality, either. Just because they don’t have a fancy website doesn’t mean they’re a dump. Most of the time an off-OTA hotel won’t be great, but it’s certainly not a rule.
What to do for small hotels not showing on any booking site and no site of their own
In my experience, lots of them do have Facebook pages.
Just Google the hotel name, and likely you’ll find the best information possible. Sometimes they have an email with a contact form, sometimes they have social media, and sometimes there is an email that someone will share on a forum or TripAdvisor post.
How to find cheap hotels using Google Hotels
Let’s take a look at how easy it is to navigate Google Hotels. Again, the platform allows you to easily search for hotel and vacation rental prices across multiple websites at the same time. I found the search filters useful and the map feature particularly handy. This is basically Google Flights for hotels – and that’s a good thing.
Here’s how to use Google Hotels.
1. Enter your search information
First, you’ll need to enter the city, travel dates, and the number of guests. You can also adjust the minimum and maximum price of your results. Once your search is complete you’ll be able to see the results in a list or on the map you see on the right side of the screen.
Google Hotels also has a bunch of filter options for your search.
2. Filter your search results
You can narrow your search to hotels with a specific rating, by the amenities you want, brands or other features, such as whether or not the price is a deal. For example, to limit your results to a specific review rating click on “Guest Rating” and choose the one you want.
Once you’ve selected the rating you want, click “Apply” to update the search results. You can click “Amenities” to further limit your search to hotels with perks like free Wi-Fi, free parking, or whether they are pet-friendly.
After you’ve selected the amenities and click “Apply” your search results will update. If you’re looking for a specific class of hotel or the best deals, then click the “More Filters” button below where you entered your search information. Make your choices and click “Apply.”
One thing to note, if you search for “Just Deals” you’ll only see hotels that are priced below what you would normally expect for that specific hotel. So you may not necessarily be seeing the cheapest hotel in the area.
For some locations or dates, vacation rentals may not be available, so you won’t see that option in the search.
3. Book your room
Once you’ve found a place you want to book, click on it and you see a page like the one below. You don’t book rooms directly through Google Hotels; instead, they give you options for which site you’d like to book through.
As I mentioned earlier, this is handy because you can quickly compare prices, and you have the option of booking directly with the hotel. That’s important if you want to earn points and elite night credits.
For this particular search, you could book this Hyatt Place hotel directly through the Hyatt website for ~$229 a night, once taxes & fees are included. Or you could book the same room for only ~$213 a night through Priceline or Agoda.
Being able to compare prices on different sites makes it easy to figure out whether it’s worth it to book direct. In this case, you’d save ~$16 by booking with a third-party site, but you’d sacrifice one elite night credit and 1,145 Hyatt points (Hyatt members earn five Hyatt points per $1 spent with Hyatt). You could be sacrificing even more if you have Hyatt elite status or if there are any Hyatt promotions you qualify for. On top of that, you can earn an extra 4x Hyatt points for eligible Hyatt purchases if you have the World of Hyatt Credit Card. So there’s a bit to consider before making a reservation.
Using Google Hotels to compare prices may also make it easier to take advantage of a hotel’s price-match guarantee. I’ve never put in the time and effort to use a hotel’s price-match guarantee because the fine print is thick and it can be a hassle. However, Hyatt has a simple best rate-guarantee policy. You are eligible for either 5,000 bonus Hyatt points or an additional 20% off if you find a cheaper, publicly available room-only rate within 24 hours of booking your Hyatt stay. If you’d like to comb through the terms of Hyatt’s guarantee, you can find them here.
Using Google Maps to find hotels
If you begin your hotel search through Google Maps instead of Google Hotels, you’ll get the same results – but you can use Google Maps to save travel destinations. I’ve tried online notes in Evernote or Google, there never was a great system for my bucket list. But with Google Maps, I have hundreds of destinations saved on my account, and trips basically plan themselves. It’s amazing.
Now, I can view hotels that are in the middle of all my saved destinations.
Drop pins for 360 views
I like to show hotels on Google Maps, as I’ll see points of interest nearby, and then drop the 360 view guy on that spot.
I did this when researching a screenshot for a Mexico hotel not listed on an online travel agency and with no official website. I noticed this blue text of “Cascada el Salto” with a camera…
So I grabbed that little person in the bottom right and dropped him on that waterfall and got this amazing view! That’s the beauty of doing this in far-flung places – finding spots I wouldn’t have found on a blog.
Alternatively, you can click on that text in Google Maps and see photos of almost any place.
I prefer being able to see my hotel location. Really, I just prefer a hotel in a great location. It matters more to me than if it’s a five-star hotel.
Using Google Flights and Google Hotels
Before you use Google Hotels to book your accommodations, you should book your flights first. Google Flights is just as easy to use as Google Hotels, if you want a few tips, read our guide to using Google Flights. I like to use it to find cheap airfare by comparing flights from my home airport to entire regions all at once. You can even set up Google Flight alerts and you’ll be notified when the price drops.
Google Hotels is a great option for comparing hotel prices across many different sites at the same time. And it’s particularly helpful if you have specific needs or wants in your accommodations because there are all sorts of different ways to filter your search results. It’ll find hotels that sites like the Chase Travel Portal just won’t.
I also like to Google Maps hotels in my desired area just so I can save them and view my bucket list destinations in a fun and interactive way!
Have you tried out Google Hotels before? What do you think of it?
Featured photo by EQRoy/Shutterstock.
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