or Direct with Hotel: Which is Better?

When planning a trip, one of the things I agonize over most is what hotel to stay at. And then once I finally find a great place to stay, I need to decide how to make my reservation. In other words: or direct with the hotel. 

Key Takeaways

  • Using is advantageous for those looking to book unique accommodations such as small inns, B&Bs, homestays, or apartment rentals.
  • Booking directly with a hotel is preferable for travelers interested in earning or using loyalty rewards points.
  • Both and direct hotel bookings may offer special rates, such as non-refundable rates for a lower price, rates with free cancellation, or rates that include breakfast.
  • offers a price match guarantee where they may refund the difference if a lower price is found elsewhere.
overhead view of a couple sitting on a dark wood floor planning a trip using a paper map and a laptop

Let’s face it, it can be a pain to check multiple websites for the best price on a particular hotel. Sometimes it’s worth it though, and you can score a particular deal or special perks using one site over the other. 

If you’re also facing the decision of whether to use or book directly with the hotel, then read on. This article will thoroughly compare the two options so that you have all the information to make the best decision for you and how you like to plan your travel.

This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See disclaimer.

Quick verdict: Using vs direct with the hotel 

If you’re interested in trying a variety of unique accommodations like small, locally owned inns, “mom & pop” B&Bs, homestays, or apartment rentals, then using is a great way to go. 

If you’re more interested in building loyalty with one particular hotel brand, then I would recommend you book directly with the hotel.  Many (I dare say most) hotel brand loyalty rewards programs don’t offer points on stays booked through third-party sites. 

You also wouldn’t have the option to book a room through with your points or a free night certificate. 

How to decide where to stay on your next trip

Side-by-side comparison of vs direct with the hotel 

Can book rooms onlineYesYes
Offers rates with free cancellationYesYes
Offers rates with free breakfastYesYes
Offers hotel brand loyalty pointsNoYes
Can book room with hotel brand loyalty pointsNoYes
Offers best priceSometimesSometimes

What are the advantages of booking your stay online? 

I love booking hotel stays online. It really makes travel planning convenient, especially if you’re like me and might be doing your travel planning late at night or early in the morning. 

Now before you say “Well of course you book your hotels online. I mean, who calls the reservations line anymore?” 

Not all hotel booking portals are created equal. And anything tech-related can break, or experience an outage. And usually at the most inconvenient time. 

In addition, some hotel brands are not set up well to handle unique booking situations and you might find yourself needing to make separate reservations for each night to continue booking online. 

All that to say, I’ve made many hotel reservations using both and directly with hotels. Overall, you can’t really go wrong with either. 

  • Both are safe ways to book accommodations online for your trip. 
  • Both offer ways to save money on your stay by prepaying at a non-refundable rate. 
  • Both offer rates with free cancellation. 
  • Both may offer rates that include perks like breakfast included. 
  • Both offer ways to communicate directly with hotel management if you have questions. 

Read More → Creating a Travel Budget that Works for You 

But there are some distinct advantages to each, which I’ve laid out clearly for you below.

What are the pros of using  

  • offers a price match guarantee. If you find a better price elsewhere online, you can put in a request with to get the difference refunded to you after you book. There are a few caveats, so read the policy carefully before booking.  
  • You can get special mobile-only discounts if you book your stay with the app
  • You can send messages to the hotel management, homeowner, etc. through’s message center. This works for any kind of accommodation from tiny B&Bs to large, major-chain hotels. 
screenshot of the mobile app home screen
When trying to decide on using or directly with the hotel, remember can you get mobile-only discounts on the app.

I feel like I do need to say that provides travelers the opportunity to make reservations with a small inn or B&B that doesn’t offer a way to book reservations through their websites, but they do list on 

For example, hubby and I booked a tiny B&B owned by a husband and wife on the Otago Peninsula on New Zealand’s South Island. The only other way to make that reservation would have been to call them on the phone from the other side of the planet. 

TIP: Keep track of all of your important travel details with a digital travel planner like this.

What are the pros of booking directly with a hotel? 

  • You can earn loyalty rewards points with your preferred hotel brand. 
  • You can use loyalty rewards points or free night certificates to book your room. 
  • It may be easier to make special requests with the hotel for your room. 
  • You might be able to get a better rate on your room if you are a member of the brand’s loyalty program.’s price match guarantee doesn’t cover those kinds of “member-only” rates. 

What are the cons of making a hotel reservation with 

  • The information for a particular property is not always presented in a user-friendly way on, so you have to be careful to make sure you’re getting the room you want at the price you want with the cancellation policy you want. 
  • You may end up spending more money if you don’t take the time to comparison shop and then ask for a price match. 
  • You (more than) likely will not be able to earn any loyalty reward points with your preferred hotel brand. 

Read my review for a full discussion of whether it’s worth it to use for your next trip. 

Screenshot showing the map view on website. vs direct with hotel: can overwhelm you with options and information that can be challenging to wade through.

What are the cons of booking directly with a hotel? 

  • Sometimes you can end up paying more when booking directly with the hotel if you don’t comparison shop. 
  • Depending on the way the hotel website is set up, the rate quoted for the room may not include all applicable taxes and fees leaving you with a larger bill at the end of your stay than you were expecting.  

So, there you have it. In short, sometimes using will be the best option for you. Sometimes booking directly with the hotel is the way to go. 

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A couple using a laptop to plan their travel with a text overlay that talks about the best way to book your hotel


  1. Thanks for the tip about how I should also look for loyalty programs when planning to book a hotel. I’d like to find a good one soon because I plan to go on a vacation with my children. My eldest would be coming home soon so it will be the first time in a long while when we could go on a vacation together.

  2. Hotelier Syl says:

    This article provides valuable insights into the age-old dilemma of booking accommodations: should you use or book directly with the hotel? The author presents a comprehensive comparison, weighing the pros and cons of each option. Whether you prioritize convenience, flexibility, or cost savings, this article will help you make an informed decision and ensure a smooth booking experience for your next trip.

  3. Anne Teknipp says:

    Can I trust availability on ?
    For instance , calling the 1-800 reservation line direct says , no rooms available for these dates . However booking .com shows availability . Do they get their own block of rooms reserved for their bookings ? I just don’t know if I feel confident rooms are really available before I commit.

  4. The last time I booked direct, the hotel accidentally charged my card twice. Made calls to the hotel and my bank regarding this and lodge cases with them. Still didn’t get my money back till now after 5 years. Never again shall I book direct; is still the safest for me even if the price difference is slightly higher.

    1. Darcy Vierow says:

      Let me start off by saying, if you don’t feel confident you shouldn’t book, no matter what platform you’re using. When in doubt, I go with what the hotel says when calling direct. Currently, if a hotel overbooks, there seems to be a trend of their cancelling on customers who book online through third party platforms first…so all that to say, in this case, I’d find a hotel that will take a direct booking. I personally would never book through any online platform when that same hotel has also told me directly that they are fully booked.

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