You may be familiar with hotel loyalty clubs. You may have heard of Hilton Honors or Marriott Rewards, but have you heard of the loyalty club which makes a total lack of loyalty rewarding?
Yes, this is a loyalty club which allows you to stay in any hotel of your choice worldwide, be it bargain basement hostels, or swoon worthy luxury. Every stay earns you rewards which can be redeemed worldwide. Again no loyalty required….
Pretty awesome right?
I have earned three free hotel nights this year from this scheme. To earn them, I stayed in windowless rooms with back-breaking beds, a home stay, a spa hotel without a spa, uber-trendy boutique hotels, and luxurious city centre hotels. A somewhat eclectic mix…
Let me introduce you to Hotels.com
Hotels.com is an online booking site which allows you to book accommodation around the world. You can access Goan beach huts, Vietnamese home stays, boutique hotels, budget hostels and ultra-luxurious hotels all on one site.
What makes it different to other sites, is the ability to earn rewards for all bookings made through the site. The sheer diversity of properties is also unusual.
Bookings.com for instance, (another favourite due to the buy now, pay later feature) doesn’t offer as many budget options.
The Zfreeti hotel is one of my top picks. It offers the best breakfast I’ve ever had in Asia, a fabulous pool to cool doff in (desperately needed!), comfortable rooms and a relaxing poolside bar.
Seven reasons why it pays to book with Hotels.com
This site has rapidly become my first port of call for hotel bookings, and here’s why.
1. One free night with every ten nights stayed
For every ten nights booked, you earn one free night. The value of the free night is calculated by reference to the average spend of your ten nights, and is clearly indicated on your account.
Typical hotel loyalty clubs may include access to a number of brands. For instance, Hilton Honors includes Waldorf, Doubletree, and Hampton Inn. None of these would be considered budget options, but they do provide different options for different budgets.
With Hotels.com, there’s no need to be loyal to a specific brand, which is great if you prefer more unusual, quirky or individual properties.
Furthermore, many large chain hotels simply do not exist in more remote locations, or less travelled routes. For instance, few brand hotels exist in Myanmar and Cambodia. I haven’t been to Central Africa but I am guessing that there is no Waldorf Astoria in Uganda!
Even backpackers can benefit from this loyalty scheme. Ten hostels booked will earn one free night, although it probably won’t be at the Ritz!
3. Choice of payment in advance or on arrival
I always used to use Booking.com because I liked the idea of deferring payment until the date of my visit. However on our recent Asian trip, it helped with budgeting to have pre-paid accommodation.
If you want the choice, Hotels.com offers the ability to pre-pay, or search for hotels which allow payment on arrival.
4. Priced in your home currency
If you make a booking, and need to cancel, a full refund is made (assuming you didn’t book a non refundable room). You pay a confirmed amount in your home currency, and are refunded that exact same amount should you cancel.
With many companies you pay in the local currency, which is then converted into your home currency. You only have a vague idea of what the actual cost is until you get your statement.
Likewise, other companies refund the amount paid in the local currency. Due to fluctuating currency rates, there may be a difference between what you get back, and what you paid.
You will likely incur two lots of costs in converting the currencies, and potential overseas card charges which are avoided with Hotels.com.
Refunds are quick to action online, and rarely take more than a few days to be processed.
5. Earn AVIOS
Now this is where things get really exciting. Not only can you earn free nights, but you can also earn AVIOS on your bookings.
If you haven’t already, simply set up an account with AVIOS. Go to Avios.com, register then navigate to Collect > See All Stores > Hotels.com.
Click on the Hotels.com button to be redirected to the home site, and book in the normal way. It is a few more clicks for you, but earns you 4 AVIOS per £1 spent.
AVIOS earned can be used to book more hotels, or help you on your way to business class flights, and if you want a triple whammy, pay with an AVIOS or British Airways credit card to earn even more.
6. Great service
My travel approach is a little fly by night. This has resulted in diverse consequences including a missed honeymoon flight, a stranding in Bali and inadvertently booking the wrong dates on a non refundable booking.
So the first of the two issues I’ve had with bookings made through Hotels.com is entirely of my own making.
Someone can’t read the calendar (yes, that would be me!)
I simply made a non refundable booking for the wrong dates. Hotels.com would have been perfectly within their rights to refuse to change my booking.
I called, spoke to a lovely chap who didn’t hold my stupidity against me, and was granted the change I requested.
Maybe it was as a result of my then Silver status. Maybe it was because of my amazing Yorkshire charm. Personally, I think it was really because Hotels.com are a decent company who value their customers.
A spa hotel without a spa
The second issue which arose was the aforementioned spa hotel without a spa. In desperate need of some relaxation and rejuvenation, at the end of a six week whirlwind tour around Asia, I booked the Kor Sor Spa and Resort for a few nights.
The marketing blurb advised an isolated location, perfect for chilling by the pool, and indulging in spa treatments.
I was pretty disappointed to discover that the hotel in fact had NO spa.
That disappointment was further compounded by the discovery that there would be no sunbathing by the pool. The vegetation was so overgrown that no sun could penetrate the jungle like foliage, most of which was malting into the pool.
I wasn’t even able to enjoy a swim in the pool, as it resembled a murky, disease ridden cesspool rather than an actual swimming pool.
The longed for calm turned into something more akin to imprisonment in Fawlty Towers.
I raised my grievances with Hotels.com, and they promptly contacted the hotel who rebuffed my concerns. Apparently the lack of a spa in a spa hotel is not grounds for complaint in Thailand.
With no aplomb, Hotels.com simply applied a $20 voucher to my account as a gesture. This was totally unexpected, a strong indication of how seriously they take customer service, and a big thumbs up for Hotels.com.
For every booking where you complete a quick feedback form after booking, you will be further rewarded with 10% off your next booking.
Be warned, any nights booked with a discount coupon do not count towards your ten nights, but if you are going to book infrequently you may prefer a discount as you go instead.
A word about gold status
There are three tiers of membership. You reach silver after ten nights and gold after thirty. If I’m honest, unless you are status obsessed, this is not a reason to use Hotels.com. The benefits are shown below, so you can decide whether they motivate you.
I appreciate that Hotels.com are trying to differentiate, but whether you are standard, silver or gold status really makes little difference. Everyone benefits from the same reward nights.
So clearly I am a big fan, but if anyone else uses Hotels.com I would love to hear your thoughts. Have you had any experience with them, good or bad? If so, pop your thoughts in the comments below.
I earn a small commission for any clicks through to Hotels.com which result in sales. This is absolutely not why I’m recommending this company. As you can see, this is a company I regularly use, hence why I signed up as an affiliate.
I’m bringing this scheme to your attention because their service rocks!