If you want to book a hotel room online these days, you have a lot of choices. Therein lies a problem.
If you’re booking a holiday or long-awaited getaway, it can be fun to browse options for hours, comparing and contrasting pools and rooftop views. But if you’re a frequent traveler, booking a business trip, or embarking on an impromptu city break to make use of credit card miles, the glut of options on major booking platforms can be a hindrance to a swift booking process.
That’s one of the reasons sites like HotelTonight have grown in popularity. Their list of vetted hotel options—suited for hotel snobs and designed-focused millennials alike—feels less overwhelming than websites like Booking.com or Hotels.com. (HotelTonight, which made its name offering last-minute hotel deals, expanded in 2017 to allow users to book up to three months in advance of a stay.) You might find three options in your price range and desired area, rather than thirty—meaning you can theoretically book a hotel you feel good about in ten minutes, rather than spending an hour tirelessly switching between tabs.
But the days of curated booking sites with intentionally limited choice seem to be going out of style. The Wall Street Journal (paywall) reported last week that Airbnb had been in talks with HotelTonight about an acquisition ahead of their long-awaited IPO. Talks had reportedly stalled, and HotelTonight said it does not comment on such rumors. However, Airbnb’s interest in adding HotelTonight’s inventory of “boutique, independent, and/or distinctive hotels” reflects the belief that more options are always better for the traveler. But is that true?
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