Priceline Hotels Review
Ease of Use
The most important thing to get out of the way is that Priceline belongs to Booking Holdings, also the parent of the world’s most popular hotel booking site, Booking.com. This therefore means that the hotels and pricing it has access to are generally the same, however the presentation on it’s website and some minor details are different. Where Booking.com is positioned as a worldwide brand, Priceline remains a predominantly North American affair.
Something particularly unique about Priceline are their Pricebreaker Deals where they present you with three different hotels in a certain city or area and the final price, however you don’t know which of the three hotels you actually get until you make the booking. Typically these hotel rates are well below the normal price so you know you’re getting a good deal no matter which hotel you get, but of course you don’t get to choose. They’re also non-cancellable so if you don’t like the hotel they choose for you it’s too bad. We find that the search experience on Priceline is above average. For most basic queries it works very well, although it doesn’t support state or country based searches, well not very well anyway. What it does offer though that most other sites don’t is the ability to search by address. Enter an address, for example that friend who’s house you’re visiting, and the system will show you the closet results to that address. It seems that most of the hotels reviews, at least for those outside of North America, come from Priceline’s parent company Booking.com. While the number of reviews is quite good, we found that the functionality wasn’t so impressive. It’s possible to filter by type of traveller, but not by anything else, which means you can’t sort by room type or by bad reviews to find the ones most relevant. On the individual hotel page the map is very disappointing. Although it clearly shows the hotel, it doesn’t have any other data points for things like attractions or restaurants, and there’s not even anything like the distance to the nearest airport. In fact, distance to the airport and major landmarks and airports doesn’t exist on the hotel information page at all. From our point of view, this is a massive shortcoming when it comes to booking hotels on Priceline, especially when all the other travel sites have been providing this for a long time. Priceline offers both prepaid and pay at hotel type rooms, as well as refundable and non-refundable rooms. What we found a little bit odd if that often the non-refundable room rate was more expensive than the refundable one, and sometimes the rates were the same price – it’s a little bit of a mystery why Priceline even displays these rooms.
As with the other major hotel booking sites, Priceline doesn’t charge any kind of booking fee or payment fee. From our testing, we returned similar pricing to Booking.com for most of the hotels although some had some significant different, indicating that at least sometimes, they run different pricing strategies. If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest price, Priceline wouldn’t be high on our list, but definitely worth checking if you want to cover all bases.
Since Priceline is partnered with Booking.com, their availability is excellent. Both the number of hotels and accommodations, as well as the availability of those accommodations can’t be matched by other travel sites overall. As their primary focus in on western countries, you can sometimes find that in other regions local competitors have offer a better selection.
Flights can be booked via Priceline’s mobile app, website or mobile website. What’s unusual though it that Priceline only offers an English interface, which really emphasizes that its product is built for the North American market.
Credit card options on Priceline are a little bit limited, but it will depend on which currency you are paying in. If you’re paying in USD, you can pay with MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover, however with some other currencies only MasterCard and Visa are available. PayPal is also accepted, but once again not for all currencies. If you’re paying in USD you also have a “Pay Over Time” option, where you can make four interest-free payments through Affirm.
If we compare Priceline’s ratings with other travel sites on platforms like Trustpilot, they are generally fairly high, although these ratings platforms are always subject to a degree of manipulation.
Priceline offer a local phone number for around 50 countries worldwide, but it will take a bit of digging through their menus to find them. They also appear to offer customer service by text message. When compared to other travel sites though, they don’t appear to offer and kind of online chat option or even email.
We wouldn’t hesitate to book with Priceline, but at the same time we also wouldn’t highly recommend them, as their offering is fairly generic. The Pricebreaker deals are definitely worth paying attention to though, especially if you’re traveling around North America.