Google just dropped a hotel booking tool called Google Hotel Search.After testing it out for a potential stay in England this upcoming May (booking a hotel for a Saturday night in Newcastle is high on the to-do list) we have some opinions. Seven, in fact.
What We Like
The map is familiar
Easily the best thing the service has going for it, we're all hyper-familiar with this map interface. It's clean, it's accessible and it auto-updates with ease when you play around with the various filters. Meanwhile, Hotels.com and Expedia also launch maps, but both bring users to a new window, while Kayak and Airbnb uses a slightly altered version of Google Maps, which loads as a side-tab.
You can filter the hotels by guest rating
A crucial filter, and one available through most booking sites these days. But it holds some extra weight considering the ratings are being sourced through Google, Universal Arbiter of all Things Known and Rated. You can slide the rating tab from 0.0 to 5.0 (in increments of 0.5), and watch your picks get sliced down. Definitely makes the whole operation faster. Say you're in town for a weekend and just need a couple good nights' sleep, just gun for a 4.0-5.0 at the best price you can find.
Free Wifi, woo!
Now, if only Google Coffee Shops was on the way. Along with other amenities like pools, and dog-friendly stays, you can figured out which hotel meets your specific needs.
An emphasis on food and drink
A massive differentiator for hotels in the ongoing battle with BnBs: in-house restaurants and bars. Having a specialty cocktail bar an elevator away needs to be milked for all its worth. While booking sites generally include "Free Breakfast" tabs, cataloguing hotels with restaurants and bars (which are backed by Google's own review system) is a savvy move.
What We Don't Like
Google's "Partner" hotels are a little obvious
For hotels that Google has a partnership with, hotels offering low rates will get an all-caps spotlight. That's generally fine, and could prove useful, but can look silly on the screen when the featured hotel is noticeably pricier than similar hotels.
Would love some info on how busy the dates are
Sites like Hotels.com do a good job of notifying users how busy their selected dates or week is. (It'll say something like 67% booked! at the top.) Hopefully in the future Google will add a feature to that end.
No "surprise me" feature
We're willing to give Google Hotels time to learn by powerhouse Google Flights' example. But as it adds more features, we really hope there's an oppotunity to generate a "randomized" trip. On Google Flights you can put dates in the database without an end destination and the program will fire inspiration back at you. It would be fun (and efficient, too) to plan a trip by selecting dates and pricepoint.
To test out the tool yourself, head here.
Main image via Unsplash