6 Secret Tips to Score Best Deals on Booking.com

I know I know, you have probably booked your stay on Booking.com so many times already and what is there to learn about anyway? Just pick a hotel, dates, click click, insert your credit card details, arrive at the property, enjoy. And true, it can also be done this way, but if you give me a couple of minutes and read on, there is actually some new tips you might learn – tips, which might not only save you some money, but also land you in a much nicer hotel bedroom.

I have been actively using Booking.com for the last five years and by no means can say that I know all the tricks of this site. For example, I just learnt the one about very last minute booking very recently on our Christmas road trip from Lithuania to Hungary. And I am sure there are some more treasures and booking.com secret deals to be discovered, so stay tuned and I will update this post as I learn new things.

This post contains affiliate links and I may receive commissions for the booking made through this link at no extra cost to you.

1. Get a Booking.com Genius Status

Booking.com genius status is a loyalty status of the Booking.com website.  Wondering how to become a genius member on booking? It is much easier to become a genius on booking than in any other area of life, so use this chance. To achieve this status you only need to book your stay at five times within two years, which is rather easy if you are travelling a lot. Just be sure to log in with the same username every time you book. Let’s look closer at the perks being a genius can bring you. While we go through them, please note that this will not be relevant for all the hotels – some offer genius discounts and some don’t. The ones you want will look like this:

Booking.com genius status

So, these are some of the genius perks you get:

  • 10% discount on bookings
  • 2 hours earlier check in
  • 2 hours later check out
  • airport shuttle
  • special booking.com phone number for genius members.

Well, sometimes it can still take ages for them to pick up, but just a couple of centuries shorter than for the simple mortals without the genius status.

2. Book last minute

Well, of course, if you can. If you are planning a whole family trip with your aunts, uncles and granny two years in advance, then this is not relevant, scroll. If however you are young at heart and flexible, and the circumstances allow to wait with the booking until the very last moment, then do it! The hotels would usually offer discounts starting from 20% going all the way down to (and I have really seen this!) 70%. So you can save a lot of money and/or stay in a much nicer place than your budget would normally allow.

Booking.com last minute booking

Let me describe you a typical situation when this might work:

My husband and I are on a road trip in Eastern Europe, in the area where there are rather many hotels. We have enough sandwiches and water in our car to survive an extra couple of hours. We are not afraid of driving in the darkness. And because it is a road trip, we want to keep our schedule as flexible as possible, so we never book our stays in advance. We just check the areas where we might stay. Then around 4-8 pm we stop for a late lunch and decide, how long further we want to drive that day. This can be one hour, three hours or so.

Then we check the booking.com app for the hotels on our way and usually most of them would be at least 20% off. So if our budget (in this case for Poland) was 50 euro, we instead get a 4-star hotel room with breakfast for 45 euro, which normally costs around 70 euro. And have we booked in advance, we would have paid the same price for a two star motel.

3. Complain if something is wrong or makes you uncomfortable

You got your special booking genius phone line for a reason! And this is one of the main factors, which makes me use booking again and again, instead of going through a hotel directly. Yes, when I travel I want to meet the locals and interact with them. But I do not want to depend on my very limited language skills and personal charm, when it comes to the comfort of my stay (especially now travelling with a toddler). If something goes wrong, I really want to be able to explain what I need. So, for if for some reason you are not able to agree on something with the hotel, you pick up your phone, call the line and discuss it with the Booking.com staff. If there is a need, they can later communicate with the hotel themselves.

Here is another example of a situation:

When we were looking for a place to stay around Lomza in Poland, I noticed that several properties had a note in their description, informing you that this place also hosts wedding and other parties and can be noisy at night. All right, well noted, so I made sure to check that we get a hotel without this note. We booked a hotel, arrived there and went to sleep like a boring old couple around 10 pm. The disco downstairs started at 11 pm, and the ABBA songs came through the walls so clearly that we could sing along. Luckily, our toddler slept through the night, and we only could fall asleep when the dancers got tired around 3 am. In the morning I asked the reception, if some form of reimbursement would be possible, as this was really not the way we planned to spend this night. I was offered a 3 euro (not joking!) discount – probably to buy an extra coffee to not fall asleep on the road.

I called Booking, described the situation to them and asked them at the very least to add the similar note about the noise to their description of this property.

4. Use your search filters smartly

Filters is one of the things I love about Booking.com almost the most. Sometimes I put so many of them that the results come back as:

Booking.com using filters

Ok, don’t use as many! But do use some, and use them smartly.

Location: Is the specific location really important for you? If not, and you just don’t want to end up in a dodgy place – use the location score from 7 or 8 upwards. This will give you a wider area and help in finding a good location which you maybe were not aware of.

Stars and accommodation types: I really couldn’t care less. I discussed star policies with some hotel owners, and it seems that the number really depends on certain facilities you need to have in order to achieve them. For example, a hotel needs to have a telephone in each room, if it wants to be a three, not two star hotel. Or it needs a minibar, if it wants to rise from three to four stars. The question is what do you need? Booking.com normally has filters for your specific wishes, like gym, breakfast or WiFi, so you can check your needs without narrowing your choice with stars.

Some of my other favourite filters to check are the following:

  • Breakfast included (you can like or dislike hotel breakfasts)
  • 24-hour reception (if I don’t know the exact time of my arrival and don’t want to worry about being late. Relevant during a road trip)
  • Parking – essential for driving holidays and road trips
  • Free wi-fi – is available almost in all of the hotels, but check just in case.

5. Booking.com overall rating is there for a reason.

Don’t drop your standards while hunting after booking secret deals! The lowest I would go on the general booking.com score of the hotel will be 7. And this would be only for the location, where (or during the time when) the choices of accommodation are very limited. Normally I would strive for no less than 8. Believe me, you can find hotels for different budgets with those score, so it does not means unaffordable luxury. For example, this hotel in Brussels was not too expensive.

Once I went for the one with the score 6 by accident. Here it is. Don’t repeat my mistake.

6. Check for other costs, like heating or air-con

If you are not careful, this can really change the price of your stay. As usual, let me illustrate this with an example:

We were once going to Northern Italy in November. November there is better than in Lithuania, but no beach holiday. The temperature can be around 5-10 C, and you would like to have your room warm. When I checked the accommodations around lake Garda, all the budget ones had heating NOT included in the price, but to be paid on the side. So if you wanted your room warm, it would be cheaper to stay in some 4 star hotel (where the heating is included in the price) than in a little dodgy B&B (where you would pay it separately). The same goes for the air conditioning in warm countries in summer.

Booking.com additional fees

So, check the fine prints and calculate your real accommodation cost in advance. Mind you, I see less and less of those recently, so hopefully at some point those fine prints will disappear.

Know it all now? Try booking something!

I’m serious, go on and check some dates and destinations you were considering for your future trips. Try playing a bit around with them, until you get a better price. Practice makes perfect!



Booking.com

Do you have any special tricks on booking with booking.com? Do you use this site often?

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29 thoughts on “6 Secret Tips to Score Best Deals on Booking.com

  1. Denny says:

    Hi! I had a recent experience with booking.com and I would like to share it with you and your readers. I’m currently traveling around Central America and planning my staying day by day. I booked a room for Christmas in Granada, Nicaragua for two nights but after a day I decided to prolong my stay with one more night. I went to the reception to ask if it would be possible to keep the same room and what the price would be. After I was assured I can keep the room, I was offered a quite high price. So what you think I did? I booked the same room on booking.com with all possible discounts and paid around 10$ less!
    Another tip I would share is the Refer a friend program. On my way I meet daily travelers with which I exchange our links and we save so much money! It’s really worth it a try ?

    Safe travels!
    Denny
    http://www.lazyroadtrips.com

    • merrygoroundslowly says:

      That’s an interesting case! I’ve also had a couple of similar situation, so I always check the prices on booking now. Especially now when they introduce this price-match policy.

  2. Lillian says:

    I love using Booking especially since many of the hotels and guesthouses have generous cancellation policies. Their review system is also pretty good that I never feel the need to look elsewhere for reviews. Good tip about last minute booking. Sometimes you think booking last minute will be more expensive but definitely not the case. #blogpostsaturday

  3. Malini says:

    I’ve had the same experience as Denny! I always check booking.com prices now. I had no idea about the booking “genius” status – what a great tip!!!

    • merrygoroundslowly says:

      Thanks! I actually did register as an affiliate with them, but with my numbers it doesn’t work yet. So this post is with no affiliate links, although it would be nice to use some. 🙂

  4. Jessica says:

    Love my Genius status! That 10% off can really come in handy if the hotel participates in the program. And I am very strict about my search filters! 8 or above, or on the app, you can even go to the points below a whole number, so a 7.8 or 7.9 is also usually fine ?

    • merrygoroundslowly says:

      I try go even higher than that, but these good scores are not often available for the good price. So yes, 7.8 should still be decent.

  5. pip_says says:

    I love booking.com as I have got older I prefer staying in hotels and air bnb properties on my travels, especially as i work on the road now. Thanks for the great tips, this is a super helpful post. xx

  6. Michelle says:

    We love using booking.com, and you’re right the Genius status is awesome. I also love how specific you can be with their filters. You have given such great tips here, thank you!

  7. Dilrukshi says:

    Hi,
    We’re running a Booking.com home stay with one room at the moment . Our score is 9.2.
    We pay 18% commission to booking. com. If we use genius program it will be 28% from the price. So we will be left with 72% for expenses and income, which is not enough.
    We do give seasonal discounts. Also provide the best possible in all areas to the guest.
    Dilrukshi

    • PJ says:

      Agree with Dilrukshi – small independent boutique hoteliers cannot complete in the market if they join to be a genius provider – the commission we have to pay is too high! Also, have you tried booking direct with a hotel or B&B – their rates are normally the same as booking.com – and you get to make your booking direct. The star rating system is not accredited on booking.com, the star assessment has nothing to do with phones in the rooms.

  8. PJ says:

    In fact, I believe that accommodation owners can make up their own star rating and booking.com will add it for them! Here in the UK, the only accredited star systems for hotels and B&B are the independently inspected AA, and the Visit England assessment. This is completely different to what booking.com adds to its hotels and B&B’s. So, next time you book a room on b.com because it says 5 stars – buyer beware!

    • merrygoroundslowly says:

      Yes, I gave up on stars long ago. Once we stayed in an amazing new hotel, which only had 2 stars – although it looked and felt better than many 4 star hotels I’ve visited.

  9. Tee Bee says:

    Watch out for places needing pre-payment by card – my card expired between booking (when a deposit was taken) and when the final payment was due. I entered my new card expiry date (same card number) on b.com but my reservation was cancelled because the system tried to take the payment with the old expiry date as both versions of my card details were still on their system – It was a nightmare to sort out – I discovered b.com takes the money and holds it for the hotel / apartment when they don’t have a card facility and sends them the money they owe them at the end of each month. The apartment owner was understanding and helpful – but b.com genius call centre staff were mixed – some gave incorrect advice and it took several email, messages via b.com and phone calls over 2 days to sort out.

    Otherwise I agree with most of the advice above – do try and get in touch with foreign accommodation via WhatsApp

    • merrygoroundslowly says:

      Oh wow, that must have been such a hassle! Last thing you need on your holiday is worrying about the cards and cancellations. Thank you so much for sharing this, it’s good to know.

  10. Amy says:

    I was very disappointed with a few of the hotel descriptions on my last trip. I have used booking.com for a number of years and get very good genius discounts. However I can’t find a contact number for them anywhere! Where should i look?

  11. Mick Pelling says:

    The problem with booking.com genius is that not all hotels participate in this.the best way to save money is to find the hotel or B and B on booking.com then google the hotel.most will give you a cheaper rate than booking.com because they do not have to pay 15 or 18 % to booking.com.you are also dealing direct with the accommodation provider who look after you,clean your room,cook your breakfast.help the small business not a multi billion pound faceless corporation.

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