Find Cheap Hotels With Trivago

Sydney Opera House during Vivid Festival.

While researching hotel prices for a story on Sydney, I discovered trivago, supposedly the world’s largest hotel comparison site. My first thought was: why had I not been using the site before.

I had heard about the site previously, took a quick peek, but I have to admit I never spent any time on it. I wish I had now. But let’s face it: there are simply so many of these hotel sites appearing everyday, that I think I’ve become immune to them. What about you?

Once I hear about a new site, I’ll take a scan, try to quickly determine what’s different about it, what makes it better than the rest, and if I can’t figure that out in a few minutes, if it doesn’t look particularly useful to me or my readers, then I’m off. I probably won’t return again unless a fellow travel writer friend tells me they found it especially helpful.

When I’m researching hotels, after checking the hotel’s official site, I tend to go to TripAdvisor first. But I hate it. I absolutely loathe it. While it boasts some helpful features – I especially like the handy box with links to expert reviews – I can’t deal with the monumental amount of user-generated reviews, most of which are appallingly written and often factually inaccurate. Occasionally there is a gem of advice, but you have to wade through so much garbage to find it.

I primarily go to TripAdvisor because it’s a one-stop-shop for hotel information as well as offering a variety of rates that allow me to compare hotel prices on different booking sites against the hotel’s own rates. But as I said, I hate it. I dislike immensely how the windows for each booking site pop up individually and always seem to take forever to open, and then it’s awkward moving between each different site to compare rates.

Now Trivago, on the other hand – which claims to list 573,375 hotels and compare 117 hotel booking sites – is a breeze to use. I’ve been spending time on it today and just kicking myself for not having done so before. It’s so simple to use and gives me instant feedback with its results.

If you know where you want to go, you just click on the destination to take you to the main page. Take the search for hotels in Sydney for example. Once there, you click on the most popular hotels in the destination, and you’ll see a search box on the left hand side of the page with a slider that shows you the minimum and maximum hotel rates. For example, for Sydney the range of prices currently starts at $23 and tops at $683. As I move the slider left or right with my mouse to select the rate I’m willing to pay, the hotel listings in the space beside it fade in and out, changing accordingly, depending on whether the listed rates fit the price I selected. And it’s immediate. There’s no waiting for boxes to slowly pop up and pages to open.

Even better than this, in each hotel box are two columns listing the booking sites with the lowest rates, and you can click on another box to see all the prices on all the booking sites the hotel is advertised on. (The rates reflect the price of the day until you enter your dates and the room type you want.) And to the right of this, is another box highlighting the hotel booking site (HotelClub, Expedia, etc) that has the lowest rate of them all.

You then click on this, or whichever hotel booking site you want if you have a reason to book through another site. For instance, I refuse to use Expedia, no matter how cheap they might be, after they messed up our bookings on several occasions, leaving us without flights and hotel rooms, severely inconveniencing us, and leaving us out of pocket.

Once you click on the booking site you like, you’ll then be taken through to the site, and, admittedly that’s a tad slow, but no slower than Trip Advisor or any other sites. And by this time I can wait a little as I’ve already decided which booking site I want to use.

Back to that search box, you also have the option to refine your search and indicate what hotel category you’re after (4-star, 5-star etc), the distance from the centre of the destination, and other factors, like whether it has WiFi or a pool. And in the opposite column, on the other side of the page, you can build a list of your favourites.

And, look, if you really want to waste some time reading user-generated reviews, you can. There’s a number to the right of the hotel photo, click there and, along with a list of all the booking sites and the average reviewer ratings on those sites, there’s a box to the left indicating, the overall reviewer rating, the number of reviews, and where it’s placed in that destination. You can also write your own reviews and add photos. Click on the destination guides and you’ll also discover listings for sights and links to websites on that destination.

Now, not everyone makes decisions as to where to stay based on the price alone nor is the rate the top consideration. I, for one, don’t. A lot of other factors come into play for me and are more important in deciding where I’m going to stay: room amenities (fast internet, a desk for two), style/design, atmosphere, location, facilities, etc, and then I’ll look at price. Quite often in my work I’ll need to write about hotels in different price brackets and this tool really simplifies that aspect of my work.

I have only one complaint about trivago and that’s the design. It’s a bit drab, it’s too functional, and it doesn’t excite me. A site’s design should be visually appealing. It should make you want to look at it, so that it’s a place you want to go and spend time.

So, for me, I mainly use trivago as a research tool. I was comparing a heap of hotel prices today and I did it so much faster than I would using TripAdvisor. I’m curious to know if other travel writers use it and how you find it, or if you have another similar site you prefer and why. I’m also interested to know how budget travellers find it, because it looks as if it would be an indispensible tool for the cost-conscious traveler.

Update: In December 2012, Expedia paid a reported $632 million for trivago, according to this report on Tnooz. I’ve never been a fan of Expedia, but I really like trivago. It’s a good move on Expedia’s part and it will be interesting to see what they do with the tool.