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    Just thought I’d share how I do my searching as the choices of places to stay sometimes is quite overwhelming. I remember looking at Bali thinking – I have NO idea where to stay! There were so many areas.


    I go to google maps first and type in “accommodation near Sydney cbd” or some equivalent (eg airport) which brings up a bunch of options but you can then target the area you’re really interested in and see if it’s close to transport also as the bus/metro icons are usually on the map. You can also see if there’s shops etc close by on google.


    A long time ago I stayed in Toronto with friends close to transport then with some other people and was trudging through snow to get to the metro and realised the value of being close to transport even if you were further out from the city.


    I do look to see if any of my favoured loyalty programs are in the vicinity, then check out the pictures google maps brings up. There are regular people pics uploaded as well so it’s not all professional hotel pics. Pictures of course can be misleading and you can still end up with a right lemon. There are reviews on the google maps page or you can go to tripadvisor as well. I usually just read the worst ones to see if someone is moaning over ‘nothing I care about’ and if that’s as bad as it gets then I’m happy to book. With chain hotels I guess most of the time you know what you are getting. Flyertalk is quite good for chain hotel reviews as well. Chances are someone else has stayed at that property. But you can still get caught out with certain properties within the chains. If it’s a special occasion then it’s worth doing your homework.


    Ultimately you need to go to the hotel website to check actual prices for your dates but it gives you a good idea of the hotels in the area you want to stay.


    If the hotel chains are pricey I go to hotels.com. There are other aggregator sites like Trivago as well. Generally order the results by price and aim for 4 star and above. It gives you a good idea of how far away these places are from the cbd, save the favourites to a short list and start eliminating. There are some helpful review bars eg location, cleanliness etc. Cleanliness is one thing I don’t like to compromise on. I book a fair number of work stays through hotels.com and use the free nights accumulated to redeem for personal use. Really easy to get receipts from as well. Even if you’re not using these aggregator sites as loyalty programs it’s still good for searching and then enquiring directly with the hotel for prices to see if it’s cheaper. I do like the idea though of getting help from hotels.com if any issues PLUS the cancellation policies can be quite good through hotels.com so I’d take this into account when looking at price differences between direct and hotels.com bookings. Hotels.com is especially good when you’re in more regional / remote areas.


    We are in the Cook Islands later and actually booked a hotel with Qantas as it wasn’t available on other websites and I figure I may as well collect some points for the same price. The hotel booking comes up in your qantas app which is handy and never had any issues chasing points. So I’ll check airline websites also.


    I still think the entertainment book can be good value for chains. The whole idea of getting points within the loyalty programs is to save money on stays so I just view this as a way of saving money up front. It’s not always cheaper than booking direct but you may find some gems.


    There is always word of mouth. I suppose if the status perks are important to you on that particular stay then I guess you go straight to the website.


    For Bali there were too many places so I actually started with the chain that was going to be useful first.


    Probably worthwhile checking in with the loyalty lobby website as well to see if there are any promo’s you should sign up for if you’re going with the loyalty chain. Some chains give you extra points or discounts booking with the apps rather than desktop so might be worth keeping in mind. You can check you tube as well for the property.


    I’ve yet to really use Airbnb but I think it has its uses also. You can accrue Qantas points with Airbnb. This would be another go to if other options were pricey or if you just needed more space than hotels/motels typically allow or are keen to cook to reduce costs.


    I think in total there’s ~ 15 or so websites I could check but I only go that far when it’s personal. It’s pretty excessive otherwise.


    Thanks for putting your thoughts here. It can be really frustrating when trying to navigate through the search button of many of these travel sites while picking a place to stay due to many search results.

    I often find myself often in this kind of selection dilemma, too…

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