I’m not going to lie I’m not faithful to one app, hotel, etc… I have a list of my requirements and I search for the option that comes the closest for the cheapest price. My requirements vary based on my destination and type of trip, but they usually go something like: wifi, safety, cleanliness, and price. If I am looking to network and interact with locals, I’ll look for sharing options (room in a house, hostel, farm, etc..). If I’m looking to isolate and get away or if I’m travelling with people, I’ll look for private options (private house, hotel, etc…).
The two I tend to default to or find the best options at are airbnb and booking.com.
I’ve stayed at some amazing places with airbnb, from various homes on The Big and Honolulu islands in Hawaii to a beach house in Salem, MA, to a private Paris decorated room in Nashville, TN, to Galveston, TX, to homes in Mexico, Thailand, British Columbia, and Lanzarote Spain. I am not a host on airbnb because, well, I don’t have a permanent residence, but I recently listened to an episode on How I Built This with Guy Raz where the founders talked about getting started and how they helped their hosts succeed, which in turn helped them succeed. While not all of the host profiles are 100% accurate, or rather, might be missing some details you might find useful to know, I tend to find that airbnb ranks up at the top for most useful in giving you an accurate profile of what to expect when you arrive. You can find my airbnb profile here, which is probably not useful to you since it doesn’t list the places I’ve been.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about Booking.com other than I use it because you can find great last minute deals. It’s my go-to when I need to find same-day lodging. I also appreciate the fact that if they’ve accidentally overbooked you, which happens since these discount sites over sell just like airlines do, they give you an emergency number to call and they’ll find availability and move your reservation somewhere close by (if possible, of course).
Hint: I recommend sticking with name brand chains or closely looking at the ratings. If you’re not familiar with a hotel/location, it’s not always easy to tell by the pictures and descriptions if you’re going to end up at a hotel that might be less than desirable.