We're spoiled for choice in 2024 with an almost unlimited number of online booking platforms - deciding on a reliable site to use for your trip can be overwhelming.
One name that frequently pops up is Booking.com — a platform renowned for its vast selection of flights, accommodations and activities to book.
However, you might ask, "Is Booking.com truly the dependable travel companion it claims to be?".
Hold onto that question as we delve into an exhaustive analysis in this Booking.com review, packed with honest user feedback.
Low on time? Here's a summary of this review;
Yes, Booking.com is a reliable booking platform. Its extensive network of hotels and accommodations offers a wide range of options for travellers. While individual experiences may vary, Booking.com has established itself as one of the largest and most reputable online travel agencies. It is essential to read hotel reviews, consider factors like safety and conditions, and review their refund policies before making a reservation.
Is Booking.com Reliable?
When booking your trip online, reliability is a critical factor to consider. So the question remains: Is Booking.com reliable?
Typically, yes, Booking.com is a reliable platform in the majority of situations.
We've personally used Booking.com dozens of times, for trips both in the UK (we highly recommend Cwm Chwefru) and abroad. Each booking has been simple to organise and quick to complete, and luckily we've never had any issues, neither on the platform itself or with any of the hotels we've booked.
User reviews on platforms like Booking.com provide mixed feedback, with both positive and negative experiences shared. Positive reviews highlight excellent customer service, professional representatives, and swift resolution of issues. On the other hand, negative reviews mention unsafe and unsatisfactory hotel experiences, difficulties in getting refunds, unhelpful customer service, and problems with booking and reservation systems.
While there is a significant contrast in feedback from users, it's important to remember that customers are far more likely to post a negative review than a positive one.
When I've worked with large online retailers, only the most enthusiastic of customers will write a positive review without being prompted, but almost every customer with a negative experience will publish a review - even when negative experiences make up just 1% of all experiences. This means that even when you see lots of negative reviews online, it's usually because it's heavily biased by a small number of customers.
Your takeaway from this? Don't blindly trust negative reviews online, and take them with a pinch of salt - while there's a chance you will have similarly poor experience, it's likely going to be a rare occurrence with most large businesses.
Payment Methods and Security
No matter what site you're using, it's essential to make sure it uses modern and secure methods for taking payments.
Booking.com offers various payment options, including credit cards and alternative methods like PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay and various other . This provides users with flexibility and convenience.
Booking.com utilises SSL encryption technology to protect user data during the booking process. This encryption ensures that sensitive information like credit card details are securely transmitted and stored.
However, it's worth noting that despite these security measures, some users have reported negative experiences related to payment issues. This includes overcharged amounts or unauthorised transactions. While such cases might be isolated incidents or the result of external factors, they highlight the importance of vigilance when using any online booking platform.
Think of using an online booking platform as crossing a busy street - even if traffic lights and pedestrian crossings are in place for safety, it's crucial to remain alert and cautious at all times.
To reduce potential risks further, it is best for you to read and understand the terms and conditions and the cancellation and refund policies of each booking. This will help you make informed decisions and be prepared for any unexpected issues.
Quality of Services and Facilities
The most important thing I look for in a booking site is the quality of hotels available.
So, how does Booking.com fare in this aspect?
They offer an extensive range of options, from budget-friendly to luxurious accommodations in various destinations worldwide. The platform provides detailed descriptions, high-resolution images, and customer reviews to help you make an informed decision.
If I'm looking for a cheap place to stay and really don't care about getting all the amenities of five-star service, I can book a two-star apartment near Faliraki, Rhodes, for just £166 for a week. Meanwhile, in the same area I can book a high-end spa hotel for £1,322. Both on the same platform, and both with plenty of customer reviews so I can read a bit more about what to expect.
Booking.com has a robust rating system that allows users to rate their experiences based on different aspects such as cleanliness, comfort, location, staff friendliness, and more. This ensures you have access to valuable information before making your final booking decision.
The next most important things I look for are; functionality of their search, depth of filtering, and robust booking systems.
Booking.com does a great job at all of these, and is popular enough that most properties get enough customer reviews that you can reliably filter to show only the highest rated properties.
I do slightly prefer the functionality of LoveHolidays, which shows reviews from Tripadvisor, but Booking.com's internal review system seems to work better for smaller properties, as they seem to ask customers to write reviews (resulting in more of them).
Price Match Guarantee
Price-matching isn't exactly unique these days, as most platforms seem to offer this. Booking.com's Price Match Guarantee policy is a good way to make sure you're getting the best price while also making use of their excellent rewards program.
The platform aims to offer competitive prices for accommodations and promises to match or beat any lower price found elsewhere.
The best thing about Booking.com's price match guarantee is that you can contact them any time between the date you made the booking, and the day before the check-in date.
So, if you find the same booking available on another site a week before your check-in, you can make a claim to get some money back.
Just look for the 'Found this room cheaper somewhere else?' link on the booking confirmation page in your account to contact their customer support team.
Remember what I said before - customers are more inclined to write a review when they have a poor experience than when they have a positive one.
Unfortunately for Booking.com, they are a victim of third party providers.
Booking.com is a marketplace - they don't sell their own products, and instead they connect buyers (you) with sellers (hotels, airlines, and activity providers).
So if you book a hotel through Booking.com, and then you arrive to a room full of rats, where do you write your review?
If you thought that you should review the hotel and not Booking.com, you're right!
Unfortunately, not all customers think alike, and Booking.com gets thousands of negative reviews for situations far beyond its reach and control.
In my opinion, this makes the 1.2/5 review rating on TrustPilot rather unreliable.
Positive Customer Reviews
Customers have frequently praised the platform's user-friendly interface and intuitive booking process. Many have lauded the wide range of options for accommodations, including hotels, vacation rentals, and apartments, allowing them to find the perfect fit for their needs. The convenience of making reservations seamlessly online and receiving instant confirmation has also been highlighted as a significant advantage.
Additionally, guests have expressed satisfaction with the customer service provided by Booking.com. The platform is known for its responsive and helpful support team, ensuring that concerns or issues are addressed promptly. Visitors appreciate the assistance they receive when encountering problems during their stay or needing to make changes to their bookings.
For instance, one user mentioned in their review how they had accidentally booked the wrong dates for their stay but received immediate assistance from Booking.com's customer service team, who helped them rectify the situation without any additional charges or complications.
Negative Customer Reviews
Some common grievances include difficulties with cancellation policies, miscommunication between the property owner and guest, and discrepancies between advertised amenities and the actual condition of accommodations.
The review pictured above is a good example of a situation that could have been resolved by being better acquainted with the terms and conditions.
The most likely situation is that the terms either stated that the booking was non-refundable or the customer should cancel before a certain date to be eligible for a refund. The review clarifies that they cancelled the previous day and that the hotel would not reimburse them.
While that leaves the customer out of pocket, it's unfair to blame Booking.com for a policy set (and enforced) by the hotel, as it is outside Booking.com's control.
Another recurring theme in negative reviews is unexpected fees or hidden charges. Guests have reported being surprised by additional costs upon check-in or requested to pay fees that must be communicated during the booking process.
This can be likened to purchasing a flight ticket and discovering numerous extra charges for baggage, seat selection, and other services that were initially kept secret.
But in reality, that rarely happens - from experience, I have never had an unexpected charge. Occasionally, a charge might be mentioned in the terms of sale, and if I had not read the terms, that might lead to a situation like this.
This is why it's so important to read the terms and conditions of every booking you make, and Booking.com's reviews make it clear that, unfortunately, many customers don't do this.
It is important to note that every individual experience can vary, as factors such as location, property type, and specific circumstances play a role. While negative reviews should be considered, it is also essential to consider the overall feedback trend and weigh it against positive experiences.
Final Verdict on Booking.com
After a comprehensive review and analysis of Booking.com's reliability, and after using Booking.com many times myself with no problems, the platform is generally considered reliable for booking hotels, flights, and activities.
With over 20 years of experience in the industry and a wide range of options available, Booking.com has established itself as a reputable and trustworthy platform for travellers worldwide.
So, there's no need to worry - in most situations, you should have no problems using Booking.com. If you are one of the unfortunate few who experience issues, their customer service team should be able to help you in most cases.
I highly recommend reading and understanding the terms and conditions every time you book, especially the cancellation and return policies, as some travellers have complained about not getting their money back for last-minute cancellations.