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Top Hotel Booking Site Problems Revealed – Which One? News

It’s a weary traveler’s worst nightmare to show up at a hotel and find there’s no record of their stay. But that’s all too real a scenario for some hotel booking site users, according to research from Which? To travel.

Sites like Booking.com and Expedia allow users to scroll through hundreds of hotel listings, comparing room prices and guest ratings side by side.

But arranging overnight stays through a third party can create its own set of problems.

When we questioned 4,600 Which? members about their experiences using hotel booking sites, 7% told us they had problems. Here we reveal the five most common problems they faced.


For companies you can trust, check out our best and worst hotel booking sites.


Accommodation not as described

Our recent survey showed how different the reality of a hotel room can be from glossy promotional images.

It was the same story for our survey respondents: 14% of those who encountered problems told us that their accommodation did not match its description online.

A guest complained of a property that smelled of mold and mildew, with a clogged kitchen sink.

Another booked two twin rooms through Booking.com, only to end up with a small double bed and a sofa bed of “truly appalling quality”.

“The hotel told us that it offers its best facilities to guests who book directly with it,” they added.

The property is not aware of the reservation

Regardless of a substandard room, 13% of guests who reported issues ended up without a room at all.

Upon arrival, they discovered that the hotel had no record of the reservation they had made through a third-party site.

In many cases, the manager was able to honor the reservation. However, some were less fortunate and found no room available.

One of them told us: “We booked in good faith, but when we asked for our room, the hotel didn’t know anything about us. To their credit, they eventually managed to find us another hotel, but it was farther from where we wanted to be. I will be very wary of using Booking.com again.

Booking.com told us that giving guests a smooth experience was its “top priority.” A spokesperson added: ‘We are available to answer any questions or concerns they may have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, especially when, in very rare cases, something unexpected may happen to a property.

Payment problem

The third most common issue was with payment.

A common complaint was confusion over whether the room rate was paid by credit card in advance or was expected upon arrival.

This has led to some customers being charged twice for the same room.

One of them told us: “When we arrived, the hotel had no record of payment even though I had paid Travel Republic a few months before. I had to pay on the spot, but eventually received a refund.

Charged reservation fees

Following the coercive measures of the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority), the booking sites have committed to be more transparent about the additional costs.

From September 1, the package price must include all resort fees and resort taxes – so there are no nasty surprises at checkout.

However, 5% of those who encountered problems told us that they had to pay a booking fee.

As one confused user explained, “I paid a booking fee to Owners Direct, but thought I was paying a booking deposit.” Then the owner asked for a reservation deposit and everything got out of control.

The same customer was even more upset to discover that he could have saved nearly 15% by booking directly.

Charged cancellation fees

We have received several complaints that booking sites are not always clear about their cancellation policy.

A customer believed he could cancel 48 hours in advance without penalty, only to find conflicting terms and conditions in the fine print.

Another user, who had to cancel a trip due to injury, told us: “I expected to only be 50% responsible, but the guest house still charged me the total cost. Booking.com had not informed them of my cancellation.

Other problems

Less common issues included finding the same hotel cheaper on another site, double bookings, and special requests not passed on to the property.

Two percent of those who had problems even said that showing up to find accommodation did not exist.


Hurried offers, shady discounts and online scams: our team of investigators gives you reliable advice. Learn more about Which? To travel.