How to book a hotel yourself - my instructions and life hack

The most important thing to start planning an independent trip is buying tickets and booking accommodation. Tickets are a separate topic. Now let's figure out where to start and how to properly book online accommodation for your trip, be it a hotel (hotel), guesthouse (guest house) or hostel. Now there are many booking systems (such as Booking, Agoda, etc.) and services (for example, RoomGuru), where you can search for hotels and compare prices for it in different booking systems.

The content of the article

How to book a hotel yourself

First, everything is in detail. At the very end of the post, I will tell you how I book hotels myself, in what order.

What do you need

To book a hotel yourself, you need a little time and three simple things that most already have:

- Access to the Internet. Now it is almost everywhere: home, mobile, in cafes, shopping centers, hotels, etc..
- Bank card (debit or credit) Mastercard, Visa or similar. You need to do it in advance, before the trip, in your hometown.
- Email. Its address must be specified when booking, there you will receive a confirmation email and a booking code.

By the way, some systems now allow you to book a hotel without a card.

How to book a hotel yourself

How to book a hotel yourself

What is a booking system

A booking system is a website that allows you to book a hotel; in fact, it is a database of hotels around the world. Hotels themselves are added to it in order to be able to rent their rooms via the Internet. Booking systems do not charge users a commission for using its database, but receive money directly from the hotel. That is, as a rule, the cost of living in a room via the Internet or on the spot (at the reception) does not change for you. But it all depends on the specific hotel, because it is he who sets these prices, for example, he can conduct a promotion that when booking in advance you get a discount (and there will be no discount on the spot).

In any booking system, you can select hotels according to different criteria - country, city, dates, number of people, availability of certain services. Payment is made by bank card (my travel map selection). After payment, you will receive an email with your booking details (booking confirmation).

The booking confirmation always contains the booking reference

The booking confirmation always contains the booking reference

Which booking system should you choose? There are no clear rules, it's a matter of habit, some people understand one interface, others understand another. However, the number of hotels in different countries is different in the booking systems. Therefore, there is such an unspoken rule: Agoda has more choice of Asian hotels, and Booking is more suitable for Europe and Russia..

List of hotel reservation systems

The most popular booking systems:,, Islet,, There are also booking systems specializing in hostels, but now the same Booking and Agoda have become very large services, and they have hostels, apartments, and even houses with villas..

And here are my instructions for each service:

- How to use Booking
- How to use Agoda

You can search for hotels in different booking systems and compare the results. Somewhere the interface is more convenient, but somewhere there is a larger database of hotels. Therefore, it is best to use the Search Engines for hotels, which are searched for at once in all booking systems. In fact, these services do most of the work for you. More about them below..

Apartment booking system

I want to make a separate point to Airbnb. This is a service that offers private accommodation. Most of them are apartments, rooms in apartments or even houses of local residents. This service helps homeowners earn money by acting as an intermediary between them and you. By the way, you can also rent out your apartment for daily rent in this way, if you wish (anyone can participate).

Sign up here and get $ 32 off Airbnb on apartments worldwide. Valid for the first booking, the booking must be from $ 70. If you are not yet familiar with the service, then be sure to read my detailed post about him, which tells about what it is, how to register correctly, how to book accommodation, etc..

Get $ 32 Discount>

So, Airbnb has some really cool options that are primarily interesting for families with children and companies of several people. Because often the apartment can accommodate not two people, but 4-6 or more. And with this approach (you usually pay for all accommodation at once) it comes out several times cheaper than in a hotel. Indeed, the hotel would have had to take several rooms for such a number of people. Moreover, living conditions in an apartment can be much better than in a hotel. For example, most apartments have kitchens, and many also have a washing machine. These are very relevant points when traveling with children..

What are hotel search engines

The hotel search engine is a service where you can search for hotels in all popular booking systems at the same time. That is, such a service looks for the hotels you need right away, both in Booking, and in Agoda, and on Ostrovka, and in other systems. Manually would be tortured to sort out them. Hotel search engines are also called aggregators, metasearch engines. In fact, this is such a hotel Google.


How does this happen? You just also set the search criteria you need (country, city, dates, room services) and the search engine gives you the results - a list of hotels. And then, having selected a specific hotel, you will see the cost of living in this hotel in various booking systems (Booking, Agoda, Ostrovok, etc.), that is, you have the opportunity to compare and choose. When you decide on the choice, the search engine will redirect you to the website of the selected booking system, where you will make your hotel reservation. That is, the search engine itself does not sell anything, it only searches. There are no additional or hidden fees. The principle of operation reminds everyone already familiar flight search engines. You can read more about services in my instructions:

- How to search for a hotel on RoomGuru
- How to search for a hotel on Hotellook

One of the best hotel search engines in my opinion is RoomGuru. It has very good integration with Booking and other systems, it has all the necessary filters, the hotel's rating is immediately displayed. I also personally like the display of hotels on the map, as I often look for accommodation in a particular place. And when you move the map, the hotels are shown throughout the entire territory, even if initially I indicated a different city in the search. Thus, it is easy to find hotels between cities or on specific beaches without even knowing their names. You can also try to search through the form below..

Book a hotel in advance or search locally

Local search is more relevant for low-cost Asian countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and where there are many small hotels at every turn. But in Hong Kong, Singapore, or Europe it is cheaper and easier to book everything in advance. However, I still prefer to book everything in advance, if possible (when I know the exact dates), so as not to waste my time searching, there are all the tools for this, it is foolish to ignore modern technologies.

  • By booking in advance, you will be sure to have an overnight stay on arrival. You can fine-tune and plan the entire trip at once and, thus, the probability of getting out of the schedule is minimal. This is especially true if you are traveling to a popular place during the season, you can just stay on the street and not find empty seats..
  • Again, during preparation, you can read real reviews from guests in booking systems and take into account all your wishes: distance to the beach, air conditioning, pool, WiFi, etc. On the spot, you will have to go to all the hotels in a row and ask what is available, and it will also not be entirely clear what the service is, not asking people on the street.
  • The most important thing in booking in advance is to save time and energy. The fact is that searching on the spot is far from a romantic activity, and not everyone will like spending even 1-2 hours walking around various hotels in the heat and after a long flight. No, of course, if you have arrived for several months and you need to carefully select accommodation for this period, then this may be justified.
  • It often happens that the prices when booking online are lower than directly on the spot. I remember that I made a reservation right at the hotel reception (it was almost 2 times cheaper), no matter how strange it may sound.
  • When obtaining a visa, printouts from the booking system may be required to confirm that you have a place to live. For example, the French consulate (and many other European countries) accepts printouts from
  • Despite the fact that the databases of booking systems are huge and they include hundreds of thousands of hotels, the smallest and cheapest hotels may not be available (sometimes such hotels do not even have their own website). Therefore, if you have time, and you have very little money, then it makes sense to go and look for housing directly on the spot..
  • Some nuances when booking

    • Specify the check-in time (usually around 2 pm) and check-out time (around 12 noon). Some hotels are very strict with this and may charge you one more day if you are late. You also need to understand that if you come earlier, the hotel will be able to accommodate you only if it has such an opportunity, otherwise you will wait.
    • Check the opening hours of the reception, otherwise, if you arrive late in the evening or at night, you can come to the closed doors.
    • The withdrawal of money for a hotel or the possibility of booking a hotel without payment (with payment upon arrival) depends entirely on the particular hotel and its policy.
    • Please read the cancellation policy carefully, especially if there is a chance that you will need to cancel your reservation. Usually, a reservation without any penalty can be canceled some time before arrival. In some cases (for example, there was a special offer), the reservation is not canceled and the money is not returned. All this is indicated on the page of a particular hotel. Also, in case of no check-in, they may start to write off money for accommodation..
    • Sometimes it is possible to book a hotel not only without prepayment, but even without specifying bank card details. Of course, you can score and not cancel your reservation later, but I would not recommend doing that, there is a risk of being fined (the cost of one night). Alternatively, you can register a new account every time, but IMHO it's easier not to bring it up to this.
    • If the type of bed is very important (large double or two singles), it makes sense to contact the hotel or at least read the reviews, since it is not always clear what is meant in the room description. Although personally I have never encountered problems.
    • It is best to always have a printout of the hotel reservation (voucher) with you or a file with it on your phone to display on the screen. But usually just giving your last name or booking number is enough..

    How do I book hotels and life hacks

    A life hack for those who are used to Look for a hotel on your usual Booking’That is, copy its name and paste it into the search box on RoomGuru for the dates you need. Thus, you will find out if the hotel is offered at a cheaper price, for example, on Agoda, Ostrovka and others..

    With a little use of various sites, both booking systems and search engines, you yourself will figure it out. There is nothing difficult in finding and paying for a hotel or guesthouse. I am looking for accommodation in the following sequence:

    • I go to RoomGuru and start searching: I set the city and dates, and then compare the prices. As a rule, I always know the area where I need a hotel, so I switch directly to the map. I am looking for it on the map, but most importantly I watch how the price changes from the living conditions in order to understand for myself how much I am willing to pay (I am looking for my price / quality ratio).
    • I go to Booking, then to Agoda to read reviews (about 10, no more) about a particular hotel. It also has a rating system, which makes it very easy to find out which hotel is good. I deduced such a rule for myself: if a hotel has a rating of 7 and above, then it is normal, if below 7, then it makes sense to strongly doubt and study the reviews more deeply in order to draw a conclusion for yourself. And if the rating is higher than 8, then you can safely book without delving too much. As a rule, I do not book hotels with a rating below 7, or only in cases where there are no other options.
    • After analyzing about 5 options, I go from RoomGuru to a specific hotel in a specific booking system. As a rule, I choose a booking system from those I know, usually Booking or Agoda, depending on where it is cheaper. They are both proven, I have used them many times. It also happens that the Islet or Ozone dampens, then I take in them. In fact, only these 4 booking systems I end up using.
    • I fill in all my data: full name, bank card details, etc. I pay if the hotel requires payment immediately. If the hotel allows you to book a room without prepayment, then just book.

    In Thailand, if I don't know exactly when and where I'm going to stay (for example, I'm driving 800 km by car), then I'm looking for accommodation right in the direction of the service. But again, not without the help of services. I have a mobile application from Hotellook (Android, iOS, Windows Phone), the convenience of which is that it can show hotels right next to your location. Sometimes it is enough to walk 100-200 meters and there will be the desired hotel. Actually, these are not all the possibilities, there you can search and book hotels in advance, which I also do..

    But in general, it is better to book in advance, at the peak of the season in Tae it happens that all the suitable hotels on the day of contact are already completely occupied and you have to settle where, in other situations, you would not.

    P.S. Add if you forgot something 🙂