Booking A Hotel Through An Online Travel Site May Not Be Worth It

In planning our recent trip to Virginia Beach I discovered that using an online travel site isn’t always worth it.  In fact they could be ripping you off!

every time we say goodbye

We finally decided on going to Virginia Beach and we wanted to stay as close to the beach as possible.  At the same time we really didn’t know much about the area.

My wife and I scoured the various travel sites such as Expedia, Orbitz,, etc…  Whenever we saw something interesting we checked it in Trip Advisor to see what kind of feedback people who stayed there had.  We tried to find out what we could about the area and what was available.  Because we waited so long to plan our trip many hotels were either booked on certain days or too expensive.  Finally, through one of the sites (I won’t mention which), we found a decent hotel with a rate we were OK with paying.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

So we found a good rate for a room.  We discovered that for $10 more a night we could also get a Continental breakfast included.  Ten dollars more a night to get the four of us going in the morning sounded like a good deal!

Before I was able to reserve the room, my wife, in her mighty wisdom, told me to check out the hotel’s site and maybe give them a call to see what they charge.  Good thing she told me that.  I checked the hotel site and I found that their rooms were the same price as the online travel site.

Ok, no biggie.

Then I discovered that the Continental breakfast was included in all the reservations!!  The travel site was going to charge me $10 a night for something the hotel gave out for free!  It gets better.  We found that the hotel gives discounts to AAA members.  I plugged in our membership card and was pleased to see that the room would be discounted another $18!

In all we saved $28 a night by going directly to the hotel’s site rather than booking through an outside travel site!  Over five nights that’s a savings of $140.

I’m sure there are real great deals out there on these travel sites but this proves that you have to do your homework.

Sometimes the best deals may be from the hotel itself!

What travel tips do you have?

Creative Commons License photo credit: [charlie cravero]

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Published or updated May 20, 2014.


  1. Those crooks! I love it – they tried charging you for something that was already included. I wonder how they can get away with something like that?

  2. I ran a similar experiment last year and got the same results. Cutting out the middle “men,” with deep emphasis on the word men in this case, is almost always cheaper.

  3. Another site to check out reviews on hotels/restaaurants, etc. is

  4. @ Pete – They get away with it when people don’t check up on the hotel itself! Knowledge is power!

    @ Marc – That good to know. In the future I’m definitely going to cross reference the actual hotel when I look up stuff on these travel sites!

    @ Bonnie – I’ve heard of them but haven’t used them. I’ll have to remember that next time I want to check some reviews. Thanks!

  5. It’s a good idea to do this with flight reservations as well. I often (well, as often as I fly, which is not very often these days) go to all the major sites to check who has the best deal. I then go to the website of that airline and look up the exact same flight to see if I can get the price without the extra booking fee, or with a discount run directly by the airline. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t, but it never hurts to check.

  6. @ Sasha – Great tip! Thanks!

  7. This post has been included in the 141st Festival of Frugality at Almost Frugal, going live September 2, 2008. Please make sure to link back to the Festival and or submit it to sites like Digg, Stumble Upon, PF Buzz etc. Thanks for participating!

  8. I have never in my life heard of a hotel trying to charge for cont. breakfast. Do hotels actually do that? I travel a bit that would have been a read flag for me.

  9. We learned this the hard way…took a 3-day weekend, booked a hotel about 4 hours from home (left in the evening).

    It was a small hotel, quite nice actually. As we were leaving, the owner told us that we should just book direct next time…he is required to pay the site we booked through $20 to book the room, so that got added to our bill!

  10. @ kdgriffin – Unfortunately I don’t travel as much. I saw the offer and though it sounded like a good deal. Fortunately I went to the hotel’s site and found out the truth.

    @ Marcia – At least you know now though.

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