As we're winding down to the last official summer month, many of us are on the search for good flight and hotel deals before the season comes to a close. We have our handful of go-to sites we fall back on for this type of research, but recently started enjoying Google Hotel Finder as our go-to tool.
We love Google Hotel Finder for many reasons. Before it came along, we liked Kayak, Orbitz and Hotels.com but have recently used Hotel Finder to hunt for a place to stay in San Diego next weekend. As an experiential project, it's a useful and enjoyable tool because of its clean interface and integration with other Google applications. Here's what we liked about it:
Easy filters: Picking destination and travel preferences like location, dates, and hotel specifications is easy with big buttons and toggle features for price ranges. The interface really beats sites like Travelocity or Expedia where the buttons are tiny, leading us to squint at the screen to click on the options.
Color Coordinated Shortlists: We also love color coordination and Google Hotel Finder makes narrowing down your hotel search a lot easier by color coordinating the ones you add to your shortlist. Your shortlisted hotels appear in a separate bracket at the top of your list view or as pink dots versus blue on the map.
Quick Comparisons: Once the hotel results appear, you can get detailed information that pops up with a click from the hotel's description written by the owner, to user reviews, to large photos of the space. A nice tip we read about is quickly flipping through results using "J" and "K" as keyboard shortcuts in the list view.
Great UI: One of the most popular features is the ability to search within multiple locations. The "add shape" button lets you click on areas outside of your initial search and look for hotels in a different part of the city. This could come in handy if you like different areas for example in Los Angeles, and can search for hotels in both Santa Monica and West Hollywood at the same time.
Finding the Perfect Spot: Seemingly everyone's favorite feature (and ours too). Many times if you're traveling to a new city and don't have the luxury of a local friend to direct you in the right district or neighborhood, it's tough to know where to book a hotel that is close to where your interests lie in that city. The "highlight popular areas" feature lets you focus on a tourist spotlight or filter by a rough destination, like Union Square or Greenwich Village.
As much as we enjoy this new tool, there are a couple updates that we're looking forward for Google to implement:
- Ability to search outside the U.S.
- Package searches for both hotels and flights
- Reliability (the tool still has some bugs that create flaws in terms of price accuracy)
Which hotel hunting tools do you like to use?